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The rabbi is armed to the teeth, more accurate than the Congressional Record and nowhere near as fast as a speeding bullet. Which is why he preaches avoidance of armed conflict. The rabbi has a simple recipe for not getting shot: avoid stupid people doing stupid things. For people who generally follow that recipe, we’ve discussed the importance of not interacting with drug dealers, no matter how “recreational” the habit. What we haven’t examined are those cases where stupid people find you. What then?

David Driscoll [above], a student at Sinclair Community College, and two of his friends from school, Kelly Altic and George DeLavergne, attended a party at an apartment in Harrison Township during the early morning hours of February 7, 2009. At 3:30 a.m., Driscoll and his two friends walked to the Marathon gas station and convenience store at 4351 Riverside Drive to buy cigarettes. As Driscoll and his friends approached the store, Defendant sped into the lot and parked his car at one of the gas pumps. DeLavergne and Altic were startled by the way Defendant pulled into the station because Defendant acted as though he might run over them.

Once again, gives us invaluable insight into what goes down in the real world. And once again, we need to grasp the concept of TTL: Time To Leave. If you’re at a gas station at 3:30 in the morning (a truly wretched hour) and someone attempts to run you over, it’s TTL. Gas? Cigarettes? Payment? Nope. TTL.

That said, determining TTL is by no means an easy process. You have to jettison years of social conditioning. We live in a country where people are free to conduct their legal business without molestation from the government or fellow citizens, right? A nation of laws. Unfortunately, there is a law that trumps our entire social and legal system: the Law of the Jungle.

When someone is out to hurt, rob or kill you, your rights are meaningless. They disappear. Pretending your rights are still in force when someone has cast them aside and puts you in their sights is nuts. Defending your rights against an unknown adversary is nuttier still.

The evidence presented by the State, including the surveillance video, demonstrates that as Driscoll and his friends stood at the checkout counter, Defendant entered the store, stopped and stared at them, and then walked to the back of the store. Moments later, Defendant came back up to the front of the store where he bumped into DeLavergne, saying, “Out of my way, homeboy.” DeLavergne did not respond, and he and Altic went outside to wait for Driscoll, who remained waiting in line at the checkout counter.

You know the joke about the guy who’s stranded in the ocean and refuses help several times because “God will take care of me”? Like that. If someone tries to run you over, then acts suspiciously, then tries to initiate physical conflict while uttering an deliberately inflammatory remark, God is telling you it’s TTL.

In this case, the objects of the defendant Kyle McClendon’s assault were not packing heat. It is crucial that you understand that this rule applies to armed as well as unarmed civilians. You’re NOT in one of those movies where the 98-pound-weakling whips out a gun and teaches the punk a lesson. You are in deep shit. Your gun is not your ticket out. It is your last defense.

Defendant walked up to the counter, cutting in front of Driscoll. Driscoll told Defendant that he was next in line, and asked Defendant if he had any manners. Driscoll nevertheless allowed Defendant to go ahead of him. While paying for his gas, Defendant pointed outside and told Driscoll they should take it outside. Driscoll was not physically aggressive toward Defendant inside the store and never threatened Defendant.

Yes, but—the Driscoll didn’t attempt to deescalate the situation either. I reckon moments like this call for escalated deescalation. In other words, Driscoll should have made nice with McClendon AND called the cops. As for leaving the station, yes, by all means. Quickly. Without comment. OK, let’s call this strategy what it is. Run! Run away!

On the surveillance video, Defendant exits the store, walks over to his car, and then starts to pump gas. Driscoll pays for his cigarettes, exits the store, and takes off his jacket and lays it on the pavement as he approaches Defendant. Defendant leaves the gas pump and the two men stand face-to-face near Defendant’s car. Driscoll has his hands up in a fighting posture. By this time Defendant has pulled a gun, which he holds in his right hand and shows to Driscoll. Seconds later the two men appear to relax, they shake hands and embrace briefly. Driscoll walks back to get his jacket and Defendant walks back to his car. Suddenly, Driscoll turns and walks toward Defendant’s car. Without hesitating, Defendant shoots Driscoll five times, gets into his car, and speeds away. Driscoll died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds. His friends, DeLavergne and Altic, ran into a nearby woods and called 911.

Oh dear. That wasn’t too smart of Mr. Discoll, was it? Fisticuffs? Marquess of Queensbury Rules? At 3:30 a.m. at a gas station? Once McClendon drew his piece, it was TTL X Infinity . . . and beyond! We’ll never know why Driscoll walked back to McClendon’s car. But it was, literally, the last thing he should have done. The last thing he ever did.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Detective John Clymer interviewed Defendant at the police station. Defendant admitted to Detective Clymer that he shot Driscoll, but stated that he didn’t know why he shot him. Defendant said he did not see any weapon on Driscoll, and wasn’t threatened by Driscoll or afraid of him.

McClendon just wanted to shoot someone, for reasons that needn’t concern us here. The lesson learned: don’t go to gas stations at 3:30 a.m. Did I forget to mention that? And the other moral: when thing are going south, head north.

There is no dishonor in choosing flight over fight. Not getting shot, not dying, is winning. Of course, if you have people to defend who can’t skid-addle with you, that’s different. Defend them. But keep this thought uppermost in your mind: it’s better to avoid a gunfight than dodge a bullet.

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  1. Taking responsibility for the lives of both yourself, your companions, as well as the strangers who appear to be threatening you, requires a rational maturity and willingness to give up asserting “rights” in favor of deescalating situations, walking away, even escaping and hiding. Producing a weapon for civilians should be the last recourse, as your chances of provoking a more aggressive response skyrocket.
    These characters all appear to be hormone-infused teens deep in situational blindness; either one could have basically saved two lives by recognizing the recipe for nitro was being cooked, repeatedly. So many opportunities to just go away were wasted. Self-awareness means thinking, every so often, about what you’re saying, doing, and asking “What are the consequences if I keep this up?”
    Too many people, not enough brains to go around.


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