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By Brandon via

A St. Paul, Minnesota man with a permit to carry a concealed firearm did everything by the book, until he decided to give chase. I wish this story had ended better, but we’re using it as a “what not to do” example to implement into your decisions . . .

The would-be victim, who was walking outside near the North End intersection, was approached by two men armed with handguns, according to a preliminary police investigation.

As the men were attempting to rob him, he pulled out his own handgun and exchanged gunfire with the two men. Police said the man had a permit to carry his handgun.

After the exchange of gunfire, the bad guys took off after realizing they didn’t want bullets flying in their direction. What an interesting reaction to someone with a gun. </sarc>


This story sounds great so far. We have a legal gun owner who successfully defended himself against a pair of armed criminals, sending them in the other direction. That’s what we want to do: when confronted with a threat, we do what we can to eliminate that threat. Sending them running in the opposite direction is a successful elimination of the immediate threat.

But then…

The would-be assailants fled in a car — and the man got into his own car and chased them, police said. They drove just over a mile, before engaging in a second gunfight in the 900 block of Thomas Avenue.

Where to start. The most important thing here: Once the bad guys were far enough away to not be considered a threat anymore, that’s when you retreat. The first argument that comes in with this is: “The criminals have guns, they can still shoot at you from a distance.” This is true, which is even more reason for you to get yourself to a safe place, out of the line of fire. The absolute last thing that you should be doing is going after the armed criminals. You are not the police. It is not your job to chase down the bad guy.

Second, this armed citizen engaged in an unnecessary second gunfight with the criminals and possibly put other people in danger. One comment on the sourced article hit the nail on the head:

Screenshot 2015-03-31 at 10.19.02 AM

In the end, one of the robbers was shot in the foot and ended up at the hospital seeking treatment and will be facing numerous charges. The other robber is still on the loose. The intended victim was not injured.

According to the app LegalHeat, there seems to be a duty to retreat in Minnesota:


The moral of this story: If you want to actively go after bad guys, become a police officer. Sorry to put a fellow concealed carrier on blast like this, but you’re doing it wrong.

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  1. And let this be a lesson to those who are under the misconception that the police are just ordinary citizens. Our intrepid defender was not only violating the law in a duty to retreat state but in a stand your state as well. You only get to stand your ground until the threat ends. It doesn’t entitle you to chase after the perp(s). This is an important distinction between you Mr/Ms. Armed Citizen and the Police. The police not only has the legal right to pursue, they have the obligation and duty to pursue and apprehend.

    Note: Since the bad guys didn’t grab any property the Texas exemption to the hot pursuit by the citizen would not have applied.

    • Nice catch re Texas–that thought jumped into my head as well. I still wouldn’t do it, myself, if the BGs were armed. At least not until such time as I had convinced myself they had property I was willing to die for.

    • This didn’t occur in Texas it occurred in MN, and while he shouldn’t have gotten in a car, the laws here are very very vague. This is less an issue of we have a guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing for defense and more of an issue of good lucky staying within the confines of the law.

      In MN you cannot kill-shot unless its an absolute do or die situation (which is probably why he shot in the foot and not the chest). You also need to remain close to the scene of incident if at all possible so while generally that means retreat, ensuring you aren’t being chased isn’t the worst.

      This is a huge issue on the problems with MN law that leave open options of idiocracy with normal self defense tactics, but it’s hard to criticize the guy knowing what the actual MN law is.

      • I know where it happened but when you point out that a private citizen can’t pursue the threat some joker will bring up Texas law. I wanted to make it clear that even had this DGU occurred in Texas you still could not pursue since the perps didn’t collect any of your property.

  2. So the guy WANTED further confrontation? If I made it through the first encounter… I’d be very relieved… after the shakes that start happening about 20 min after the encounter(from your body crashing down off the adrenalin). No thanks.

    But that’s just me.

  3. I can see cases where pursuit can and should be given (and such is recognized in some Stand Yor Ground laws, like California). But they are fairly narrow cases, e.g. in one’s own home especially if there are others in the home, say your children, in the direction the assailant ran.

    But chasing them on public streets? Not so smart

  4. I couldn’t imagine backing down after a gunfight. I would chase too. I could possible regret it later, but its not in me not to finish a fight. In my state there is no duty to retreat and you are allowed to make armed citizens arrests. I don’t know about the legality of chasing someone down but its probably not kosher. But like I said, I don’t care, if the person went on and killed someone else because I decided to do the legal thing and not the right thing I would end up eating my own gun anyway so there really is no choice but to finish the fight.

    • What do you mean by “finish the fight?” Kill them? Take them into custody? In either case you are stepping outside the reasonable boundaries of self defense, as well as exposing yourself to unnecessary danger. If you kill an assailant after he’s fled from the initial attack, you’ll be likely prosecuted at the very least for manslaughter. If you attempt to take the assailant into custody, you could not only be bushwhacked by one or more of his buddies, but you might also even be liable to civil prosecution for false arrest.

      If by some rare chance you find yourself in a situation where you successfully defended yourself in an armed encounter, you should really just be thankful you made it through, then point out the blood trail to the arriving officers. They have radios, backup, dogs, and other technology that you don’t have.

    • ” don’t know about the legality of chasing someone down but its probably not kosher. But like I said, I don’t care…”

      Don’t complain when you end up being bubba’s best friend with this attitude.

    • Said the armchair commando with no knowledge or regard for the law and willing to further the perception that all law-abiding gun owners are vigilantes…..

  5. I hope we hear the final outcome of this case. All too often we get the initial news story but never find out how it was eventually resolved.

  6. Thanks for posting this, RF. Now it’ll be all over Shannon’s twitter feed. Irresponsible, wannabe cop, children at risk, looking for a fight, small penis, blah blah blah.

    • If Shannon Watts posts the story, it won’t be because of TTAG. It will be because the thirteenth richest man in the world owns one of the largest information services companies in the world and funds MAIG to a fare-thee-well.

  7. Whatever happened to the citizens arrest?? I like Rothmans statements made from the articles provided source:

    It’s not unlawful for someone to follow suspects, Rothman said, adding that he’d need more information about what happened in the St. Paul case to assess the second part of the incident.

    “At some point, if they (the suspects) initiated a second encounter, he may have again been in a situation where he was authorized by the law to use deadly force,” Rothman said.


    Common law:
    Most states have codified the common law rule that a warrantless arrest may be made by a private person for a felony, misdemeanor or “breach of peace”. A breach of peace covers a multitude of violations in which the Supreme Court has even included a misdemeanor seatbelt violation punishable only by a fine. The term historically included theft, “nightwalking”, prostitution and playing card and dice games.


    What say you!?!

    • I say it’s dangerous to pursue someone who you know has a gun and the willingness to use it to avoid capture.

      It may be legal, but that doesn’t mean it’s smart.

      • I never said it was smart. But if it’s legal and this guy is willing to put himself at risk so the rest of us don’t have to – more power to him.

    • Since all government derives its power from the consent of the people, all laws belong to the people. If I recall some history/civics class way back, constables, police and sheriffs are empowered by the people to enforce the laws of the people.

      Essentially this where the concept of the badge does not confer special rights concept comes from. Cops and people are equal except the cops enforce the law so the people dont have to do it themselves, but the right of enforcing the law is still maintained by the people.

      A city town or village can dissolve its police department at any time at the will of the people, thus leaving the enforcement of it’s laws to the people themselves. So yeah, in the end all arrests are by citizens.

      • As I understand it, in Texas anyone has the power to make an arrest if a felony or a “breach of the peace” occurs in his presence. Someone shooting at mea qualifies for either one. But I still wouldn’t do it under most circumstances.

    • I’m not qualified or equipped to chase someone down and arrest them. All kinds of bad can happen, I can however call the LEOS, give them descriptions and details and let them with their available manpower, backup and equipment take it from there.

      My goal in self defense is to keep myself and my loved ones alive, preferably uninjured. If the bad guy gives up and stays put, ok, I’ll have to deal with it and hold them at gunpoint. Chasing down bad guys doesn’t align with the goal of staying alive. And frankly, the police are more likely to be successful with their resources available in apprehending a suspect than I am operating alone.

    • It’s dumb — you aren’t pursuing to bring the person(s) to justice – you are just pissed and want revenge.

    • Common law in ‘most states’ gets beaten by statutory law in a specific state where an incident occurs. A duty to retreat means if you are using deadly force in an attempt to apprehend someone you are on the knife-edge of justification, at BEST. A citizen’s arrest does not allow one to break other laws in the process (even something as banal as the speed limit).

      It’s funny but all those movies where anti-gun actors go around getting vigilante would end up with the main characters in jail if not dead most of the time.

  8. Always keep the mission in mind:

    The goal of self-defense is to stay alive, your loved ones to stay alive and with minimal injury to any of you.

    If that is the mission goal, how does chasing after folks who are running away support it?
    Don’t do things that don’t support accomplishing the mission, corollary- realize when you’ve accomplished the mission.

  9. Doesn’t seem quite fair that the cops and the criminals are the only ones that get to run down the street waving their gats and busting caps in random directions.

  10. All of you misunderstand Minnesota’s duty to retreat law. It’s not so simple. When the investigation is complete then we can make reasoned judgments. BTW, in a “similar” situation last year a man gave chase but was not charged in either gun fight.

  11. Beside the legal aspects of pursuing the attackers, it is still a bad idea assuming you value your life or the life of your family. Suppose the bad guy retreated to acquire more affective firearms like a rifle or shotgun? Perhaps the bad guy retreated to get some buddies for a counter attack? Suppose it was a ruse to get you to run into a trap? What if you are defending your family in the first encounter, would you really leave them undefended to pursue the bad guy? Probably not. What if the bad guy ran toward cover so he can turn and engage you again from a better position? Sure, you are armed, but can you hit a target at 25, 50, or even a 100 yards with that pocket pistol you carry? Probably not. In most cases, chasing an attacker is for fools. The smart choice is to live to testify. Move yourself and your family to a defensible position, call for backup (police), and be a good witness.

  12. When I’m off-duty, I look for a nice margarita with Reposado Tequila and Grand Marnier rimmed with sea salt. Or a nice, smoky scotch. I’ve never had a job where I can drink on duty, so either having a drink or thinking about one reinforces my off duty mindset. And I usually don’t chase or arrest people off duty. I also usually don’t look for trouble or to escalate my situation.

    • But, if you were accosted by two guys with guns . . .?

      Just to complicate the discussion a little more, Texas law would seem to allow a private citizen to peruse and arrest a fleeing felon:

      Citizen’s arrest:

      Texas Code of Criminal Procedure
      Art. 14.01. [212] [259] [247] OFFENSE WITHIN VIEW.
      (a) A peace officer OR ANY OTHER PERSON, may, without a warrant, arrest an offender when the offense is committed in his presence or within his view, if the offense is one classed as a felony or as an offense against the public peace. (Emphasis mine)

      With the proliferation of armed citizens, events like this are going to be happening with increasing frequency. This law is going to have to be incorporated into common law enforcement protocols. Apparently it hasn’t yet happend.

  13. This sort of case could be a legal nightmare for a CCW holder. The initial confrontation is pretty clear; approached by two men who attempted to use force to obtain money/goods. The CCW holder has a right to defend himself at this point is he fears harm.
    The issue comes after this. If the two men then retreat and the CCW holder takes off in pursuit does the CCW holder now become the aggressor who is seeking confrontation? The threat has passed so why would be continue to hound his would-be-attackers? Furthermore if this is a Stand Your Ground state would the two individuals been able to use this law, and/or claim self-defense for any injuries after the chase?

    In this type of scenario the only winner may be the lawyers.

    • Probably not since they created the situation to begin with. The DA gets to prosecute all three if he so chooses.

  14. everyone just look out for numero uno. do not, under any circumstances, actively protect your community from vile reprobates. when the wretches rob and murder someone else tomorrow night, keep warm with the knowledge that at least they didnt get you, and that its someone elses job to defeat villainy. afterall, youre not a police.

  15. I can understand where he’s coming from. If someone triggers your fighting instinct, that instinct isn’t always going to shut down when it steps over a particular statute. Guess we’re still stuck being human after all.

  16. While I don’t think I would give chase, adrenalin is a funny thing. I’m willing to cut the guy some slack, after all it was the bad guys that injected it into his otherwise peaceful day….

  17. I would say the one exception would be moving to a tactically superior position for defense, assailants could very well return and obtaining the best possible location to deal with that eventuality is a good idea. But that isn’t really giving chase as much as it just might happen to be in the same general direction the baddies have fled.

  18. The answers to all the questions are going to be very fact specific. If good guy reasonably believed that the two thugs were likely to continue their crime spree and were imminently going to kill or harm someone else, then it is entirely appropriate to give chase. It’s going to be up to a jury to decide if that belief was reasonable.

    If, say, they left and yelled, we know your wife and kids are around the block and we’re going to kill them in revenge, then it’s pretty clear that giving chase was reasonable.

    Common law is common law. I’ve never heard anyone say that common law is state specific. Common law exists in all common law jurisdictions, from England to Australia and everywhere in between. If they’re going to rely on common law, then I think there’s a lot of room to argue on exactly what the common law says.

    Personally, I hope our culture continues to grow and require self defense. I once read of a Norse society, I think it was Iceland, but I’m not sure, where if you didn’t resist a highway man’s theft, then you were considered an accomplice, even as the victim.

  19. This all could have been avoided if he had just been a better shot in the first gunfight.

  20. Adrenalin is a powerful drug.

    Guarantee you there was no rational decision going on there. He was acting on instinct.

  21. As someone in Minnesota, it’s hard to condemn his actions. The law to defend yourself is an extremely vague line. Essentially you’re not supposed to leave the scene of where the incident took place for when the police arrive, but obviously you can’t just twiddle your thumbs waiting 15 minutes for the cops to show up. The details per news reports have been real vague about how the chase took place or whom may have witnessed it, but I’d suspect he also wanted details on the get away vehicle.

    Normally this would be a case of should have killed them and moved on in life, but MN being as liberal as it is makes shooting to kill very difficult for a defender (thus probably why he hit the perp in the foot).

    I think this is a case less on “what not to do in a gunfight” and more of a case of “time to point out the flaws in MN concealed law.”

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