A video from a ring doorbell camera captured a deadly encounter between two men. One of the two men involved walked away, the other is dead. Looking at the brief encounter gives us a good perspective of just how fast your day can go from routine to extreme.
Before we get into the video, I think it's important to point out a few things. First, I don't have any information about the men in the video or what led up to the shooting, other than what we can glean from the video.
Next, anytime we analyze one of these types of incidents, there are some people who think that I'm just “Monday morning quarterbacking,” and that is not the intent. Rather, I think we can learn a lot about violence and civilian defensive gun uses, that we can then apply to our defensive strategy.
Lastly, I just want to point out one of the many observations we can get from this brief video clip. Most likely, you'll have opinions and observations of your own. Feel free to share those thoughts in the comments below.
Now on to the video.
Some Gunfights Are Won Before a Round Get's Fired—
In no way am I discounting the importance of training with and using a reliable everyday carry (EDC) gun and holster. The one of the many things we focus on here at Concealed Carry dot Com, is to help people become safer and more proficient with their firearm. However, many well-trained professionals and civilians have died in an ambush.
Because, mostly, as defenders, we are reactionary in that we respond to an attacker. We don't typically get to choose when, where, or how a defensive gun use will go down. Try as we might, training can't really replicate real world violence in a safe way. Even force-on-force training, which is some of the best training one can participate in, can't recreate the suddenness of an attack. You're either in the training scenario or you're not. You know something is likely going to happen when you're training. In real life, it can happen just at that brief moment you drop your guard or mentally check out.
No one can have 100% situational awareness every moment they are in public. Lots of people think they do, but it's not only impossible, but unhealthy. Consider a thing called the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which essentially describes how we have a propensity to overestimate our abilities. The lower or ability is, the higher people tend to estimate their abilities.
But this doesn't mean we shouldn't be aware of our surroundings. We absolutely need to pay attention to who and what is around us. The point in all of this is to point out that in the video, it was the victim's awareness that gave him the best chance at winning this fight.
The Victim's Awareness—
We see the victim return home with grocery bags carried in his left hand. We can see he has a semi-auto handgun tucked into his waistband on his right hip. He has his door keys in his right hand and uses them to unlock and I think, open his apartment door.
As he's doing this, we hear someone calling out to the man saying something like “hey bro.” He turns to look and grips his handgun with his right hand. He sees the man, which we later see is wearing a t-shirt, pants, mask and hat. I don't know the timeframe of this video, but it doesn't seem like the guy was wearing a mask because of cold weather, as he was also wearing just a t-shirt. Now it's possible it happened when it was fashionable to wear face diapers. Even after 3 years of 15 days to flatten the curve, I don't feel comfortable when I am around someone wearing a mask.
The Draw and Holding Items in Your Hands —
The victim here blades his gun away from the masked man and draws his handgun with his right hand, keeping it shielded from the attacker's view as he engages the man is brief conversation. I think it's important to note that the defender grips his handgun while still holding onto his keys in his right hand. He may even be still holding the grocery bags in his left, but we can't see this. I bring this up because there are some different schools of thought on carrying items in your hands.
Method One —
One method is to carry items in your non-dominant hand. This way you can draw your firearm even if you have something in your hand. However, if you're carrying concealed, you need to clear a cover garment, and typically this is done with your non-dominant hand. And while it may be easy on the range to practice dropping things to free up your hands during the draw stroke, it's not uncommon for people to hold on to things in their hands during a stressful incident.
I'm sure you can pull up multiple videos of officer involved shootings at the window of a vehicle, where the officer draws his gun, engages the bad guy, all while holding an FI pad in their other hand. I have experienced this same phenomenon as a patrol cop in a busy southern California city. This is a good plug for practicing your draw from concealment using only one hand.
Method Two —
The other method is to carry things in your dominant hand. This way, it somewhat forces you to drop items from your hands when you move to draw your gun. It also leaves your support hand free to begin the draw stroke by clearing the garment. I see this as a viable option that I've seen work, however that didn't actually happen in this case. Now, to be fair, the keys might have been entangled in the defender's fingers, so he might not have been able to drop them easily. This could happen with other items besides keys.
The point is, when we're focused on defending ourselves, we may not perform exactly how we thought we will in respect to dropping things from our hands. My advice is still to practice carrying and dropping items from both hands, and working on drawing one handed so that you have reference points to access, no matter what hand you might have something in when you need to draw.
The Defender was Ready —
The defender felt something was off and drew his gun before the attacker drew his. He didn't draw it and immediately shoot, but he had it in his hand, ready to go. The defender also positions himself, placing a bit of the building's corner between him and the bad guy.
The defender was ready, the bad guy wasn't.
The bad guy's “draw” began from his left pants pocket. This isn't ideal, as he was a right-handed shooter. So the bad guy needed to draw the gun, then transfer to his right hand, then raise it to bear on the defender. This gave the defender perhaps an extra second of time to process what he saw, and then react. What's telling is that even though the defender already had drawn his gun, the bad guy was able to bring it to bear on him at almost the same time he broke his shot on the bad guy.
Fortunately for the defender, the men were just outside arms length distance, and he was able to break a shot on the bad guy and get the first significant hit. That hit seems to impact the attacker in the face or head. The attacker's head goes back and he begins to slump forward. The defender is able to break a second shot which is difficult to see if it impacted the bad guy or not.
If the second shot missed it likely missed horizontally, and not vertically. Meaning that it could have entered the apartment directly behind the bad guy. Another side point, this is a reason jacketed hollow points are preferred for your everyday carry gun. Over penetration of a human body is one concern for sure. But misses are something that while we want to avoid, are a reality in many defensive shootings. At most, there is probably a 60% hit rate when looking at all defensive shootings. This means upwards of 40% of rounds miss the mark. If our defender missed here, a JHP projectile is still going to penetrate the apartment walls, but ideally with much reduced velocity, compared to a full metal jacketed (FMJ) projectile.
Reasonable Questions —
Understanding that this doesn't represent every defensive gun use, I still think we should ask ourselves a few questions. I'm not going to include my personal answers here. I would rather use this as an opportunity for you, the reader, to come to your own conclusion.
—Would the defender have survived had he not preemptively drawn his gun? That is to say, recognized something was wrong, and acted on that intuition.
—Do you regularly pay attention to people and things going on around you? How about when you reach your home? We've covered many DGUs on the Podcast that involved a suspect following the victim's home and attacking when the victim is about to enter their home. What steps do you take to secure your home? Do you even have a home defense security plan?
—Had the defender been carrying the gun without a round in the chamber, would he have been able to rack the slide before using it?
—Do you think the defender thought this was the day he would need his gun? Do you carry every day, or just when you go to “the dangerous part of town?”
In Conclusion —
Again, I just wanted to focus on the defender's mindset of readiness and situational awareness. We talk about having a wholistic defensive mindset. Do you have one? I don't know, but don't suspect the defender was a master class IDPA competition shooter. He didn't have a tricked out 2011 with a fancy red dot. He might not have even been using a holster, or at least if he did, it was one that collapsed when he removed the gun. Yet he survived an intense, deadly confrontation. It all started with being ready. The question is, are you?