You've often heard us say things like having a gun isn't a magic talisman. And, “going to investigate” a suspected burglary is likely a bad idea. We've said these things in podcasts and in articles.
Stories like the one I'm about to tell you are the main reason why. This is a true story that took place last week in Arizona, and the ending is still unfolding as a good Samaritan was fighting life-threatening injuries as the weekend started.
First, the news:
Last week in Mohave County, AZ, a shootout occurred between a suspected burglar and the neighbors of the burglarized house.
Reports show the two people, the neighbors, checked in on their neighbor's house and when they did, they came across a person they didn't recognize leaving the house.
At some point during this ordeal, though reporting is thin, the two men were shot at by this person who was armed with an unnamed rifle. Though the neighbors returned fire, hitting the suspect, one of the neighbors was also hit and, last we heard, was still listed in the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The 51-year old suspect ran off, and was later found dead in the local desert where he succumbed to his injuries.
It's being reported that only one of the Samaritans was armed.
I hate stories like these for more than one reason. First, it's never easy to talk about because one person died and another is fighting for his life. Still, there is an incredible lesson that we can learn so we'll attempt to do it with as much respect as we can.
First, a disclaimer. We don't know everything about this story. In fact, we don't know much about it because the reporting is thin. What reporting is out there doesn't give much detail. On one hand, this is a good thing because it means the good Samaritans may be being careful about what they're saying to the press.
It does, however, also make it hard for us to learn from. It makes it hard for us because we have to assume certain things happened that we cannot be certain about. All we can do is make assumptions based on the information given and the reported outcome.
Having said that, I believe that in order to get to point C, you have to first travel from A and through point B. So, while these are assumptions they are likely true to at least some degree and led the men to a shootout.
I want to say it again because many people skim articles, these are assumptions, not facts.
But there is a common thread among other, different stories with similar outcomes that have shown similar instances to be fact, so I feel as though presenting what I do here is a good learning experience and things to keep in mind for our own defensive gun use should we be presented with a similar situation.
Let me lay my assumptions out there.
Such assumptions are as follows:
- The neighbors may have gone to investigate what they suspected was a crime in progress
- They might not have called the police before the shootout
- They might have thought they had the upper hand because one of them was armed
- Maybe they assumed that the other person was not armed
- They could have thought they were better prepared because there were two of them
Now I want to debunk three of my assumptions because this is also important for the learning process:
- They may have been just making rounds to the home as house sitters and stumbled upon the suspected burglar
- Maybe they did call the police but felt the need to act based on circumstances they saw
- Maybe they knew the burglar was armed, or that he stole guns from the neighbor's house and attempted to stop him
The rest that follows is the analysis based on if the above assumptions are true. And, even if they're not true in this particular story there are a ton of lessons to be learned here because, after analyzing a lot of stories like this, these are common themes among concealed carriers.
Let's take a look —
Investigating a crime in progress, and the police:
Rarely is it a good idea to investigate a crime in progress. We don't know for sure if this is exactly what happened, and there is a chance that the two neighbors happened upon the criminal as he was leaving. But one of the reasons why you don't go investigate is because you have no idea what you're walking into.
Things you just don't know are as follows:
- How many bad guys are there?
- What is their state of mind?
- Are they on drugs?
- Are they armed?
- Fresh out of prison and unwilling to go back?
Unless they had camera footage they didn't know what they were walking into. In this case, the bad guy had a rifle and the ability to use it.
Another reason, is because it's rarely a good idea to startle someone in the middle of committing a crime. You don't know how that person will react if interrupted during a crime. Are they willing to open fire to prevent going to jail? To some criminals, dying, or at least chancing death, is the better option than going to jail.
If you have time to call the police and let them investigate, don't be a hero unless your life is in danger.
On being armed:
This one is two parts because, on one hand, the neighbors may have thought they had the upper hand because at least one of them was armed.
We see this a lot, unfortunately. People think that because they own and carry a gun that they're invincible. But here's the thing, carrying a gun doesn't make you bulletproof. To some degree tactical training helps, but just as Recon Marines and Navy Seals can die, so can you even if you spend every day of the week training.
Another thing is that they may not have thought about the possibility of the criminal being armed. In a gun fight, going up against a dude with a rifle is not desirable.
We must never fall victim to the thought that because we're armed we automatically have the upper hand. Nor must we fall victim to the assumption that we're the only ones armed. By definition, criminals are willing to break the law and we should always at least assume that there's a possibility that someone we may encounter is not only armed, but so unwilling to go to jail that he's willing to commit murder to eliminate witnesses.
If that person has determined in their mind that they're unwilling to go to jail for their crimes, they're going to do everything they can to stay out of jail — to include shooting a rifle at you.
Remember, just because you're armed doesn't make you invincible.
Strength in numbers:
It is true that there is strength in numbers. But, only so far and when other things are taken into account, like what you may be walking into. It's always better to have a friend with you in a situation like this. But, the strength in numbers doesn't play out well if only one of you has a gun and you find yourself going up against a criminal with a rifle.
Strength in numbers plays out differently if there are two guns at play in the good guy's hands. But again, I wasn't there and don't know how the story actually played out.
This is tough because we make a lot of assumptions here on things that may have led to other things. On one hand I hate doing that, and on the other it's necessary to do because it opens up conversation and allows us to better understand how we'd react under similar circumstances.
Important things to remember are that just because you own a gun doesn't mean you're invincible and, really, if you suspect a crime is taking place you should call the cops. If your life is in immediate danger that's a different story altogether.
If your own life is in danger, defending yourself with vigorous determination is the best way to stay alive. Just don't needlessly put yourself in those situations by going and looking for trouble. If trouble finds you, fine. Otherwise, call the police.
It's our hope that the good Samaritan involved in the shooting comes out on top of this.
Here are some more resources that we've put together: