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By Rich E.

We ran a post by Rich E. yesterday who described a defensive gun use in which he was involved. Rich sent the following in response to some of the comments under that post. 

Recently I submitted an article for the P320 competition on TTAG. It described an incident that took place at my front door in New Mexico in 1988 where I was involved in a DGU with a guy trying to break into my house. The replies that followed were astonishing to me. Most of them were supportive, but some of them I had a hard time reading. Those who didn’t believe the story don’t bother me. It’s their choice to believe or not and if they don’t. Oh well. The fact remains that the story is true and happened as I wrote it, and if you live in Clovis, New Mexico it’s probably a matter of public record . . .

Maybe it wasn’t written well, but I’m an engineer, not Steven King. The focus of this follow up article is to address those of you “shooters” who say they would have shot the guy without hesitation.

First I’ll give a little more of my background. As I stated in the article, I was trained as an Air Force Security Policeman in 1975. I wasn’t law enforcement, rather I was a security guard who protected nuclear missiles and warheads at Malmstrom AFB in Montana. At the end of my Air Force career I was on the Edwards AFB combat pistol team. I put thousands of rounds down range under professional environments.

A large part of my training was devoted to the use of deadly force, as in when to use it and when not. For instance, if you’re guarding a nuke and someone tries to climb the fence to get TO your nuke, you shoot them off of the other side of the fence.  You don’t wait for them to get to your side to see what their intentions are. National security and all.

If I was on a patrol away from the nukes, such as on the flight line, I was often called upon to back up law enforcement during a domestic dispute or a traffic stop that went south. I was also trained to deal with that, where the use of deadly force is not so cut-and-dried.

To those readers who think they would react differently than I did by blowing the guy off of the porch, I salute you. Your willingness to take a life is honorable. Your ability to make a snap decision to end someone’s life is admirable.

Of course, the above paragraph is complete bullshit. I don’t admire you in the least. Someone made a comment that the world and our society has changed a lot since 1988, and indeed it has. But the willingness to take someone’s life without knowing why, other than he’s trying to get into your house, still astonishes me.

During the incident I remained calm, as my training dictated. I evaluated the situation as it was happening.  As most people who have been involved in a life-and-death situation know, time slows down while things are happening. Sure, I could have shot him. But I saw no reason to. Not to mention the fact that my young GI neighbor, his wife and daughter, and parents-in-law were outside unloading their truck after returning late from a visit in Texas. Yeah, I saw them through my picture window.

I was holding a gun in my hand that had a round in the chamber and the safety on during the entire episode. A simple flip of a switch and squeeze of the trigger and everything is done. And the rest of my life would have just gotten really complicated and, for me, filled with second guessing and sorrow.

I was in control of the situation, not the bad guy. I had the ability to shoot him and I made a conscious decision not to. Given the same situation and time frame, I would probably make the same decision again.

The fact is, our society has changed so much since then that I now have a GLOCK 21 sitting on an end table next to my front door, and another one on a nightstand in my bedroom, and a gun in every car (I now live in a city much bigger than Clovis). I also have a small dog that barks furiously at any noise he hears (he was recently asleep on the floor when I lowered the foot rest on my recliner…I thought he was going to bark the vocal cords right out of his head). I don’t know how the same situation would end today, nor do I want to find out. But I’m ready. And well-trained.

It is my guess that those of you who said they would have shot the guy immediately have never been faced with a similar situation, nor have you been trained to make those types of decisions. You may have gone through your required CCW class in order to carry your gun around. Congrats. But don’t think for a moment that your CCW class has armed you with all the tools needed for decision making or the reactions you need to successfully live through an armed confrontation. Or, more importantly, that you know exactly how you will react when faced with such a situation. Even with all the military training I’ve received, I’m not sure you’re ever trained well enough for those situations.

If I’m wrong, I’m wrong and I can live with that. I’m human. Amazing how that happens, huh? I’m all for our Second Amendment rights. I’m all for protecting my family and I do that quite well, thank you.

I’m not at all for having people shoot others unnecessarily, and those of you who do just because you can are part of the problem with our society and the reason things have gone so far wrong as they have. There have been many situations where people have shot someone needlessly through their doors believing that someone on the other side is a bad guy. I’m not going to do the research for you, but I do watch the news (don’t believe everything I hear) and I read sites such as TTAG to see what’s going on.

I won’t address the school or theater shootings and such. There’s enough out there about that, and I do believe an armed citizen or student could have saved lives. Case in point is the student with pepper spray who stopped the shooter at a Seattle school a few days ago.

As for the red Fruit of the Looms…it was the 80’s. At least I wasn’t wearing spandex and moon boots.

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  1. The article was very well
    Written, that’s why myself and others confused it as fiction. Has the author considered writing a book.

  2. Rich, I hope I would react as you did. Perhaps not following him to his car, but who knows, during the heat of the encounter. As for not pulling the trigger, my understanding is it can cost someone 10’s of thousand of dollars in legal fees even if you are in the right, plus the mental effect it can have on you for the rest of your life. You did good.

  3. There were literally NO comments that said “I would’ve shot him” I just re-read that post, all 42 comments. None said to shoot him, just a bunch that called b.s.

  4. Ha! Very nice, and measured reply. Don’t pay attention to the haters, Rich. Thank you again for sharing your story.

  5. This is exactly why I rarely talk about my DGU’s. I’ve got no documentation, no news story, no police report… Just my version of the stories. If I ever do share them, I know I’ll have to take the attitude of, “It’s none of my business what other people think of me.” Too many e-warriors out there that want to play Monday Morning QB. But as anyone who has actually used their firearm in self-defense will tell you, we are Monday Morning QBing our own decisions. Sometimes for years after the incident. That is how you come up with a better plan for the future. Furthermore, stories like this also help in a “lessons learned” sort of a way and I thank Rich for sharing his experience.

    • I shared a DGU once on another site. The response I got (from supposedly pro freedom, 2nd amendment types) convinced me to NEVER share anything again unless there were police reports and/or injuries involved.

      Granted, part of the backlash was how I wrote it. Like the author above, I wrote eloquently. I was also still having adrenaline jitters so I used wording that I would not have normally used – disparaging the person who almost attacked me outside my own door.

      Anyway, I learned a few things from that. Apparently, if you write too well, you are assumed to be a scamming, lying liar.

      I should have known better. Years before that, while a brand new infantryman at Fort Bragg, someone stole my laptop in its bag at the PX food court when my back was turned.

      I filed a police report.

      Instead of going after the person who stole my computer, CID started investigating ME! I had to get a lawyer to defend me, the whole 9. When I asked my lawyer WTF was going on, know what she told me? My police report was too well written, made too much sense, and placed myself in too specific of a location. The correct grammar and punctuation I used as well as the observations I made tripped the bullshit alarm of CID and they thought I was running insurance fraud.

      So there you have it, folks. If you share anything, with the AI, or the cops, or just about anyone I guess, make sure you do so poorly.

      While cheesy teen novel series about creepy repressed vampires having the hots for perpetually depressed, Mary Sue teen girls a la “Twilight” are allowed to be written poorly, your personal accounts of crimes that took place or what you did to prevent them /must/ be written poorly.

      …or The People of The Internet will assume you’re writing fan fiction. Real writing from real situations looks like something an 8 year old wrote, apparently.

  6. Rich, as a lawyer and trainer of police and civilians in self-defense law, I applaud your actions, your coolness under a rapidly-changing situation, and your concern for the value of human life. You could have legally taken his life, but chose not to. Well done!

  7. I read your first post from yesterday; sounded true to me. Especially after having Military security background; the first instinct would have been to chase the guy down. The people that posted as believing your story was BS were just projecting what they would have done in your circumstance; which probably would have been to curl up on the floor a start balling like a baby.

  8. Here’s one aspect you may not have considered. Just as you believe you learned something or at least enforced something you already knew the perpetrator did too. Odds are much greater that rather than saying this life ain’t for me the perp got a little smarter and most likely deadlier too. What are the odds that down the road he ends up hurting someone and you find yourself saying I should have shot him when I had the chance. Mad dogs stay mad.

    • Did you read the OP? The ‘purp’ was another young airman who happen to be drunk at the time. What he did with his life was suffer the consequences in loss of rank and continue at least that tour with the Air Force. Actually reading things before commenting isn’t required, but it does help keep you from looking silly.

      • I think we found one of those guys who would put rounds through their own door without consideration.

  9. Do not worry about the keyboard commandos around here. They are laughably ready to attack everyone and anything. And of course they do so all the while hiding behind their fake name.

  10. I re-read all of it too. Sorry but you seem awfully touchy & whiny to call anyone a keyboard tough guy. I take EVERYTHING I read on the internet with a grain of salt. I honestly had NO reaction to what you wrote. Suffice to say in 1988 I wouldn’t have shot him. At 60 in 2014 I WOULD.

  11. Anyone that says it’s easy to pull trigger & take a human life likely has never been in the posistion or should not be carrying a firearm. Not counting military I’ve shot 3 persons, all were either shooting to kill me or another officer. But not fun, happy or a good feeling doing it. Not something proud of either. Something had to do, & anyone that thinks it’s fun is dangerous.

    • +1 I think most people who have been in such situations, short of actually being fired on, have hesitated and that’s a good thing. It shows that most of us would rather think about it before we kill someone, to look for some other way of dealing with it. As long as there is still time I’m not shooting anyone, and what constitutes still having time is up to me, or you, it’s based on the perceptions and abilities of the people involved. It’s even likely that on different days the same person would react differently to the same situation. As for all these ‘shoot first’ types, they’ve either got to be inexperienced, or psychopaths.

  12. As a fire lt in a very urban dept. I thank you. We often have to enter buildings and houses where ya know they’er not on fire,check the welfair,alarms going off, waters flowing into a lower apt from above,that sort of thing. Getting shot at is in my mind.

    At night I light the house up,always yell ,” fire dept” over and over ,yet so can the bad guy I guess….. I also wear my helmet as it’s pretty recognizable . But most important I send the probie in first and hope if anyone is inside they take a second to Id their target.

  13. I read the article several days ago and did not comment. However, the one thing that jumped out at me was the repeated warning that I would be FOREVER changed if I had to shoot another human being…….nonsense! I have a close friend who shot and killed an attacker in 1999…..he told me he’s never felt a moment’s grief over it. The little thug was 17 too and tried to rob him with a toy gun. My friend put 4 ball rounds of .45 caliber into the boyz chest and said the look on his face was priceless. He even jokes about the hissing noise the guy made as he expired. I have never shot anyone but I think it’s very naive to assume everyone carries loads of guilt and self doubt after snuffing out a life that needed to be snuffed out. Not everyone is the same. He even took me to the place (Lake Underhill Park, Orlando FL) where it happened and showed me exactly what transpired and the route the kid tried to take to escape after being ventilated (ran about 50 feet before collapsing). I asked if he ever felt bad but he just laughs and says, “yes, I feel bad his mother wasn’t there to witness it!” Okay, regardless of how you would feel it just goes to show that not everyone is overcome with grief after killing a bad guy. Wasn’t it Audy Murphy who killed 200 Germans and went on to be a motion picture star and live “guilt free” after the war? Sometimes killing needs to be done.

    • It just goes to show, it’s not the gun…it’s a hard heart that kills.
      I do believe that sometimes, the dirtbags just need killing, but I”m human enough to leave some room for doubt and questioning on the subject. While I hope I would be a fierce lion in defending my family or myself if it comes down to it, I also hope that I have the time and ability for a small amount of leeway in case the dirtbag is just making a terrible mistake (as in the author’s tale).

      It’s not a bad thing to retain some compassion, or to have a conscience…and that conscience is what can haunt the memories of the good guys who were put in a bad position.

    • As an ex-Gulf War Army infantryman, I never had to shoot at anyone (it wasn’t much of a war for me). That said, I knew soldiers who had killed. Most were at a mid-point between your semi-cold friend and Oprah-grade emotional basketcase-ism. They simply didn’t want to talk about it at all. Which I think is healthy.

      I’m sympathetic to Rich E’s original post. I especially like his take on training; outside of select special ops unit training (where the budget is ~$50K/man annually for range time), it’s tough to know how any specific person will react in a true SHTF situation.

    • “Forever changed” does not mean only riddled with guilt. There are other way one changes.

    • A person doesn’t have to be devastated by the event to be forever changed. For some people taking a life is empowering, it boosts their confidence, and that’s ok. Really any reaction including none is ok, but for most people taking the life of another is a seminal event, either something that teaches them that they never want to do it again or which teaches them that they are up to the task and can handle the fall out. It’s not always negative, but there is usually a reaction. I doubt your friend would have taken you to the scene to reenact it if he really felt nothing about it at all, just as you wouldn’t take him to show him where you once parked your car. It clear the experience impacted him, it’s just not clear how.

  14. Yeah, the original post really had no impact on me. But this whiney response to criticism made me re-look it. Glad you didn’t feel you needed to shoot someone who violated your home. And glad he didn’t kick your backside all over your front yard when you decided to play superman in your underoos. Whatever, man. Whatever.

    • Didn’t play superman, didn’t have time to put on a tux, and the punk might have had an ability to shoot me that I didn’t recognize, but kicking my butt all over my front yard? Hardly, man. Hardly.

  15. Maybe it wasn’t written well, but I’m an engineer, not Steven King.

    King writes fantasy, not true to life stories. Your true story was written quite well. As for the negative comments, well, haters gotta hate, so set your bullshit-o-meter on “ignore.”

    My gauge of your truthfulness was that nobody would admit to have been wearing red Fruit of the Looms if it wasn’t true.

    • I didn’t say anything one way or the other about Rich’s entry, although I’m wholly supportive. Any DGU that ends without a shot being fired and the good guy winning ends well in my book. Nor do I take ‘forever changed’ at face value. I’ve studied enough psychology to know full well that everyone feels guilt differently. You have to look at the context of the DGU in order to judge. And even then you might be a bit early. Humans are pretty resilient creatures when they need to and are allowed to be. The vast majority of well-adjusted individuals who have taken a life will recover and be none the worse for wear. But not if they are thrust into a destructive, hostile environment (spouse, legal investigation, etc).

      Oh, and about red FTL’s. I thought it was funny. I’m a boxer guy fwiw, and I happen to have some red Fruit of the Looms. Plus a blue pair, a green pair, a black pair and a gray pair all from the same package – bought it at Walmart about 3 months ago. But I’ve worn all manner of colors. You only live once, amirite?


  16. The way I see it, no one really knows how he or she will react in a situation like that until they actually get there. You can have all the training, make your plans beforehand, and still freeze up like a deer in the headlights when it comes–or overreact, or suddenly find yourself in an amazing state of mental coolness where you see that your original plans would not work and you adjust accordingly, or–well, just react the way your were trained and planned ahead of time. So I can’t really say what I would or wouldn’t do. But I will say that if someone is literally breaking down my door after I have warned them that I am armed and will shoot if they come through, and they do come through, my expectation is that I would pull the trigger. I’m not as wiry as used to be and I have to expect I would come out a poor second in a physical tussle with a larger, younger opponent. Especially one who has shown himself too aggressive to heed a warning, and physically able to break down my door. And who, if he indeed comes out on top physically, will then have access to my gun. Again, maybe I would suddenly find myself “in the zone” as they say, and react with extraordinary coolness to see that the situation really didn’t merit a shot just yet. But as I sit here, it appears to me that punching someone who has just charged through a door he has just busted in with the barrel of your gun is just asking for that barrel to be grabbed. Or at least taking a high-level risk that it will be. I don’t think it makes me a murderer-in-waiting to say that as I sit here and consider that situation, that level of risk is not one I would plan on taking.

  17. “I now have a GLOCK 21 sitting on an end table next to my front door”

    That’s obviously your decision, and you have WAY more training than me, but I’d like to ask you to reconsider the gun near the door. I propose the following scenario:
    Someone breaks into your house unarmed, and before you can reach the front door (I don’t know how your house is laid out, might not be an issue) and grabs your GLOCK. Suddenly, you have an otherwise easy scenario turning into a gunfight.

    Your dog may alert you ahead of time, as in your DGU story, but I think it’s something to consider.

    Just my .02

    • I don’t know about Rich but I keep a gun near my front door, but well out of sight. For that matter there are 2 in the living room and two in the kitchen, if you know where to look. Finding one of them with my dogs barking before I get to the intruder seems unlikely to me. What’s more likely is that I’ve left my EDC on the bedroom catch all and there is a knock at the door. Having one near the door speeds up my response. Different strategies for different people I guess.

  18. This reminds me of a show I saw on the boob tube years ago. A cop checking out the back entrances of stores, came upon a guy trying to break in the back of one of the stores.
    He pointed his gun at the guy and told him to drop his weapon. The would be burglar also had his gun pointed at the patrol cop.
    After hesitating for a brief moment, the cop fired and killed the guy! Then, they found out he was, I think 21. A lot of the neighbors where the young man lived criticized the cop, and after a while he started feeling bad for shooting the guy.
    Come to find out, when the ballistics came back with the gun report, the 21 year old had actually fired at the policeman. they found a complete live round in the chamber, with the primmer indented!

  19. I don’t really know what I would do in a similar situation. I am older now, have come through much experience of life, and some preparation for a similar event, should it occur in the future, but I don’t really know what I would do.

    Some of that preparation I have been through is training with a firearm and rifle and much hunting and target practicing, but that is not killing another human being. Some that preparation I have been through was two distinct incidents in my life, one of which as a youth I encountered a rape ungoing as I took a cut across an alley about a mile from my home then. I jumped on the attacker and screamed for help until finally police did arrive and arrest the pervert. A big deal was made of this by the police, the local DA, the news media and all back then, and I just wanted to get away from all that attention and just continue my life without the spotlight.

    Another incident happened during one of my many trips to cities on business as a young man. A mugger in NYC wanted the few dollars I had and was obviously strung out. I told him what little money I had and refused to give it to him. He began agitated and fired several shots at me point blank but missed and then threw the gun, which he thought was not working at me and hit me in the shoulder. That hurt. The sound of the shots had alerted a police patrol and they took him into custody and solicited eye-witness reports from those who witnessed the incident. This miscreant had a long record and pleaded guilty and served some years as a multiple offender.

    Other incidents required only brandishing a gun to change the minds of the attackers of others and/or myself. I think I am prepared to handle such an incident, Rich E., I hope I am, but I just don’t know.

  20. My lawyer told me that you can, under warranted circumstance, legally shoot an assailant, but your life will never be the same, even if the police don’t arrest you.

  21. I, like others that read your post yesterday, thought it was well written and factual. I do firmly believe that society has changed a lot from the time this happened to you, and not for the better. I used to think of a pistol as a target tool and something I carried when out hunting or when traveling. I now have one within easy access 24/7. I hope that I never have to use one of them other than a deterrent, but will if needed to protect life or family. Will it affect me later? I really hope so. I don’t want to be so hardened that I feel nothing more than recoil when that time comes. For now we are not in a war zone here. In a war zone things are different. I fully support your good choices and non lethal outcome. Good training shows through. Excellent follow up as well.

  22. I agree with the poster. That is EXACTLY why I come here so little any more, and typically I refuse to comment. It amazes me that so many are such experts. I find it sad that so many newcomers to the world of firearms and concealed carry are so influenced by the BS.

    I can understand why the antis hate us so much at times. A guy goes to a CCW class one week, and the very next we he has transformed into a YouTube TactiKewl Mall Ninja Paul Blart Superstar.

    The Internet sucks in that a person can share a true story along heartfelt emotions, and he/she gets grilled by asshat flamers from all sides.

    • +1 The best content on the internet is drown out by the myriad gibbering voices of morons and wannabes.

  23. Good story, and good follow-up.
    The purpose, and responsibility, of legally carrying a firearm is to protect innocent life; not to take guilty life.

  24. In my misspent youth (but over 21) Had over indulged in alcohol, drunk as a skunk. Got a ride back to my apartment, was trying to unlock my front door, for some reason it would unlock the door. Resident of that unit woke up, looked out peep hole and said, “hey chick, you live in the next building over”

    Fortunately, no gun shots, only injury was to my pride when encountered the guy in the laundry room a week later.

    “Discretion is often the better part of valor” I applaud author’s restraint!

  25. Something just occurred to me while I was mulling this situation again. But first let me address the BS or not issue, just to say I have no reason to think the narrative isn’t true, I was actually kind of taken aback at the first reply that was posted. But just as a practical matter, if someone is actively breaking in the door, wouldn’t it be better to take up a defensive position in a back room with the family, etc rather than post up just on the other side of the door and have that shoot-or-not dilemma put on you immediately? Or not? Obviously glad it turned out with no fatalities (assuming the guy doesn’t decide to ‘talk sense’ into someone else sometime, with bad results for someone), but I still think it was a helluva risk to take a charge like that.

    • I’d say it was very risky, but we each accept as much risk as we care too. I’d not have done it the way Rich did either, at least I can’t see myself doing it that way. I’ve done things that were likely as risky in an attempt to avoid shooting. Like Rich’s experience, mine worked out too. I suppose that ‘tactically sound’ depends a lot on the threat and who’s threatened. Confidence in ones own abilities and the calm to assess the situation go a long way to preventing legitimate but ultimately unnecessary shootings.

  26. Well written. Was in a different career field, but life and death decisions were frequent. Your training was apparently excellent, your situational awareness likewise. Wish there were a way to train those skills without living them.

  27. I’d be a little careful about what I would say I would do.

    The Internet, texts and email are forever. An an engineer I’ve worked for many attorneys. They scan your life looking at Facebook, your Internet postings if they can, even Twitter. They are looking for intent and your profile. If you are ever in a DGU, the police will do the same.

    Taken out of context and presented to a jury might make it difficult for you if you have ever posted anything saying “I would shoot”. It just doesn’t look good.

    Remember the gray man theory. Have I ever said be afraid of the police because they will kill you?

  28. Thank you for writing Rich.

    Here are a couple of my thoughts when I read the article. Please do not take these as a rant or attack on you. Think of them as someone else’s perspective which may reflect and clarify the thoughts of many readers.

    (1) There certainly are many huge benefits for the victim when the victim can successfully defend themselves without having to kill their attacker. You obviously enjoyed those benefits and I am honestly happy for you.
    (2) Distance, cover, concealment, and the element of surprise are your friends when someone is attacking you. And you gave up all four to an unknown person with uncertain intentions, weapons, and accomplices … a person who was violently trying to break your door down.

    My main concern is point number (2). While I sincerely hope I never have to deal with such a situation, much less have to pull the trigger, I cannot imagine gambling my well being and my family’s well being on the hope that the criminal who is violently trying to break down my door will somehow “come to their senses” once inside. I cannot take that chance when I have no idea how violent their intentions are, what kind of weapons they have, and how many accomplices they have. The simple fact is that they have no business breaking into my home and they are there to harm me and my family. Keep in mind that their breaking-and-entering causes property damage and emotional injuries even if they leave after entering. And they could also cause financial injuries (theft) and physical injuries.

    I think the farthest that I am willing to go, in consideration for the attacker, is to issue a verbal warning. I recognize that means I give up the element of surprise. There is also a good chance that their attack ends then-and-there without any more actions on my part. And that is a good thing.

    I am glad everything worked out well for you.

    • Points well taken. Thank you for your advice, and you are correct… I should have put distance between us.

    • …is to issue a verbal warning. I recognize that means I give up the element of surprise.

      Most of us have thought this trough ad infinitum, but, most of us have also never been put to the test. As I think it through, I absolutely do not feel inclined to having any kind of conversation with anyone who has broken into my house in the middle of the night. I hope I will never discover what I will do or if it is the right choice.

  29. I think a lot of people that were saying the story sounded polished, practiced, or untrue are forgetting something. This happened over a quarter century ago. Rich has had decades to tell this story, mull it over, and think about it. This story feels polished… as it should, he’s been carrying it around for 26 years. With that in mind, it’s quite easy to understand the “feel” of this story.

    With that being said, I find it strange that Rich says his training had to do with his actions. If anyone can show me a security/police/military force that trains anyone to actually PUSH the barrel of their weapon against the body of a threat…. I’ll eat my hat.
    It simply doesn’t happen.

    I respect that Rich was willing to use non lethal force (increasing the risk to himself) in subduing this man… As he said, a life is not something anyone truly wants on their hands. However the way he went about controlling the man, gun barrel pressed to body, was not smart… and I would be willing to bet it ran 100% counter to any training he had.

    A barrel pressed against a body is a great way to create struggle for control of the gun, or an unintended trigger pull.

    • You are correct sir. Some of the things I did was completely counter to my training. Sometimes being pissed about a situation doesn’t help your decision making process. The only excuse I have is that this was happening at my home and to my family, not inside a fenced and secured area where other cops were there to help out.

      • Hello there Rich, thanks for the reply.

        I hope I didn’t come across as with any of the “I would have” attitude. I don’t know what I would have done, as I wasn’t there. I’ve both too aggressive, and too passive, too dangerous, and too cautious.
        We all operate within a certain range of ability, training, and situations.

        If you weren’t there, inside the body and mind of the person, you can’t really presume to know how you would have reacted.

        Anyhow, good on you for saving the life of a man who made some bad choices.
        I don’t think he “deserved” to be shot, neither do I think he “deserved” to be given a chance as so many scream when someone they care for is killed in a DGU.

        Anyhow, your restraint means someone is alive. I fail to see how people can give you a hard time about that…. Just be careful that you look out for yourself first friend. None of us are as young as we were in the 80’s.

        • No, you didn’t come across as anything other than concerned about the mistakes I made, and I thank you for that concern.

  30. “I’m an engineer, not Steven King.”

    Come on, guy. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You couldn’t possibly be as bad as King.

  31. To those who question Rich’s decision to stand near the door when the perp was busting in vs creating distance, remember:

    1.His military background taught him how to face danger differently from how civilians training would.

    2. His security trainingtaught him how to face danger differently from how civilians training would.

    3. The fact that he was able to see beyond his potential target and see his neighbors at their vehicle.

    4. You’re doing quarter century quarterbacking. None of us were there. None of us are him. None of us really knows how we’d react to the ever-changing situation.

    5. No one died that night. That’s actually a good thing.

    • Points well taken–but I see that Rich has now said that some of the things he did like position himself right at the door and take a full-on charge went against his training and probably were not optimal. Can’t disagree regarding the outcome. I’m not like some of the folks here with multiple training courses to their credit, so I’m glad to get the benefit of others’ experience.

  32. My reading of the story was that your reactions were consistent with those of a trained individual.

    Lots of folks here are way too eager to risk prison for rather inconsequential reasons.

    As one who has seen the result of a number of incidents and have people die in my care for some stupid reasons, i would be reluctant to use deadly force if I had any safe and reasonable alternative.
    Thanks for your service.

  33. I understood and related perfectly to what Rich described in his article. Once upon a time something Really Definitely Scary Bad happened to my friend and I. The guy didn’t kill us, but he sure as hell tried and damn near lost his life in the process. The details aren’t important except to underscore that, in most people’s lives, something like this never happens. I continually encounter people going about their daily lives who’ve apparently never really had someone really, really mad at them, much less encountering someone intent on doing them physical harm. For obvious reasons the military has long been interested in how people respond to sudden deadly threats. There are cultural factors and physiological factors that influence people’s behavior in such situations. Central to these is the fight/flight response. Simply put, some people freak out and some don’t.

    When the Bad Thing was happening to us, my friend and I remained absolutely calm. I can attest that it was an uncanny feeling and totally unanticipated because neither of us had ever been in that kind of situation or been that threatened before. The best way I can describe our response is that time did, indeed, seem to slow down, we both felt an emotionless clarity that we’d never experienced before that helped us act with a deliberation that was both cold and sure. Doing that undoubtedly save our lives. When we got back to the shop, that was when the emotional jolt hit and we both became babbling idiots for the next hour or so. I’m told that the military looks for these traits in people. I don’t know if what we did was response to a “trait” or not and, frankly, it isn’t something I want to field test again. But if another Bad Thing happens, I hope I’m as well prepared for it as Rich was and I hope I see the situation with the same clarity he used in his.

  34. Other than the family there is nothing in our home worth dying for. Also, other than the family there is nothing in our home worth killing for.

  35. I will be honest, I skimmed through this but I get what you are saying.

    No matter how easy and justifiable it is to kill someone, doesn’t mean you should. I am a quick shot/draw, still I practice drawing the gun without shooting. Clapping people on instinct might pay well but will end horribly later on.

  36. Dude. Chill. I just asked what year was this given the F111 trainers. A simple “in 1988. ..” Would have done wonders for your story

  37. I don’t know whether I would have shot the intruder if this happened to me. Hopefully I will never be in a position to find out.

    Ever since I decided how to learn to use a firearm, I’ve acknowledged I might someday have to make a life-or-death decision about someone else. Taking concealed-carry training led me to think more deeply and clearly about it. It didn’t give me the attitude that I now have a license to kill.

    But circumstances do matter. For me personally, I’m about 6′ tall, solid build and I lift weights. But, a month or so ago I had knee surgery. At the moment I cannot run; I cannot even twist on my knee without risking serious (and basically irreparable) damage to what remains of my cartilage and other important bits.

    Prior to surgery, someone physically strong and / or massive enough to break down my front door would perhaps be someone I could sustain a tackle or other physical altercation with, with no serious side effects if they happened to not be armed.

    Now? Not without the risk of disabling myself permanently, regardless of what weapon or reason the intruder had.

    Does that change my thinking? Should it? You tell me.

    • Absolutely and 100% it should. Even the law recognizes this; force disparity. You don’t know for sure what shape your attacker is in but you know you risk serious, permanent injury just from wrestling with them due to your health status, your clear to use lethal force.

      Tactically speaking, the fact that you could easily become crippled in a melee strongly recommends that you maintain standoff and use your gun rather than engage in a physical altercation.

      Morally speaking, they instigated the violent situation, ultimately it’s on them. You’re set to offer the only effective resistant you can, and if now that means that you’re going to shoot them rather than fight hand to hand, then that is what you should do.

  38. You controlled the situation. You were not hurt and the adversary was not killed. For the last 26 years you have not lost any sleep because you did it your way. Blogs encourage replies of coulda, shoulda and woulda without any personal experience. The condition of our society and bravery through anonymity account for the rudeness. Fortunately you only need to live with yourself.

  39. I agree 100% with your assessment. Eight year marine vet, infantry for five of those,Marine Security Guard at four embassies abroad after that. There are simply times when you know what you’re legally justified doing, vs what your experience tells you the situation calls for. The only thing I’d fault your judgement is charging the guy and tackling him, but I know how things like that go once the juices start flowing. Using deadly force takes responsibility. Kudos

  40. People simply reacted to the information they had, naturally, assumptions then were made. That’s about it.

    Was there ample armchair quarterbacking? Yup. Keyboard Operators talking out of their rear ends? Yup.

    This sort of forum reaction is typical of any firearms related forum where anonymity allows anyone to pretend to be an operator or whatever floats their boat.

    Thankfully a decent percentage of responses are usually thoughtful and bear fruit (ie. useful insights and things to take away), but most are just the usual internet antics.

  41. I concur with Rich E even though my government issued training is less extensive and differently focused than his. I see too much emphasis here on police style situations and tactics when the subject of DGU and training comes up. Private citizens need focus first and foremost on threat avoidance and not on the shooting part of a DGU. Since we operate in an environment where we aren’t (or shouldn’t be) interested in trouble but trouble may be interested in us the firs order of business is to identify potential trouble before it becomes real. That allows you to get out of the way or at least buy more time and decision space before you have to go to guns.

  42. Marine 03, I think your friend has some mental problems. I would stay as far away as possible

  43. Rich, thanks for your story- it seemed real to me, and I appreciate your taking the time to share it. I was interested enough to google Air Force bases in New Mexico, and the kinds of planes based there, as I’d forgotten which one I’d flown into there on cross-countries in the early late seventies, early 80s, in training.

    Very interesting. Reminds me of the warnings of crossing the yellow warning lines painted around the SR71 parking areas at Kadena.

    The AF security guys were very serious and if you made the mistake of cutting a corner you would be politely asked by someone with an M16 to lay down and handcuffed until you could be id’d, or so the warnings went.

    Thanks for your service.

  44. I have been working on a training guide for Bail Enforcement Agents. One of the sections in that guide is an examination of the proper use of deadly force. You’d be amazed at how many people get it wrong when talking about the use of deadly force to defend themselves and/or others.
    Example; danger to PROPERTY is not a justification for the use of deadly force. Yet, I see it all the time where a Keyboard Kommando talks about “blowing away” the bad guy like Dirty Harry.
    Another example; if your life is not in IMMINENT peril you are not justified in the use of deadly force. But, again, I’ve seen defensive gun use on a lot of closed circuit videos showing the good guy chasing after the bad guy and firing at him when the only thing that bad guy wants is to get the “F” out of Dodge; and isn’t that what you want him to do? Yes it is! Let him do it; it’s not your job to take him into custody.
    Another example; warning shots. Whether firing through a door, wall, or into the air (as recommended by VP Joe Biden), you are NEVER justified in firing a warning shot. In fact; it’s illegal to do so in all 50 states. Unless you have a target, and a safe backstop, you are taking an innocent person’s life into your hands. Suppose that warning shot flies all the way over to the neighbor’s house and kills his 6 month old baby?
    My whole point here is; KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE DOING before you decide to pull your gun and fan fire at a dirt bag. And keep it in mind that that “dirtbag” is someone’s kid.

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