Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Situational Awareness...

Had an interesting experience in Pittsburgh on Saturday. Since Unc and I were staying at the hotel, and I had the shiny minivan, we decided to save on parking and carpool to the convention. I picked up Dennis and Weer'd and we headed in, and we parked at a municipal lot a couple of blocks from the convention center. We left the convention early to get back to our hotels to freshen up for the "gunnie prom", and on the walk back to the car, we were shadowed by, shall we say, a person of questionable integrity (gang tattoos on the neck kinda make me think he wasn't part of the welcoming committee).

Dennis chastised me as we walked into the parking garage, saying that I had no situational awareness. I replied, "You think I didn't see the guy following us *way* too closely? Look at my hand". He looks down, and I'm gripping the handle of my new personal defense spike (more on that later) tightly.

I was observing the yoot as he followed us. He was close to bad breath distance, and observed Unc's openly carried Glock 30. He then noticed my Smith & Wesson J-frame, also openly carried, and that's when he veered off sharply and started walking at a pace that could be described as "brisk", except that the rate at which he left us would make "brisk" seem like a slow amble...

Unc was on the lead and didn't notice the yoot in question; Weerd was too busy surfing the internet on his fancy smartphone. Both Dennis and I had him well in sight; I suspect that any suspicious movement on his part would have ended very badly - for him. His victim selection was poor, but at least his situational awareness was good - he noticed the two openly carried firearms and got out of Dodge post haste.

Now, I can't say with absolute certainty that he had something nefarious on his mind. Maybe he just wanted to ask us the time, and us eeeeevil NRA member gun nuts scared him with our brazenly displayed arms. We'll never know for certain; however one thing is clear - your first line of defense is to be aware at all times. Carrying a firearm for protection is a great step - you have the best tool available for the job of defending yourself. However, if you miss the early warning signs and have to be accessing that tool after the attack has started, you're way behind the power curve.

Be careful out there - even when you think you are safe, you might not be...

That is all.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was trying to find the restaurant on the smart phone. Condition white is OK some if you have good company.

-SayUncle

Freiheit said...

Doesn't add up. Single potential aggressor against a group of 4-6 adult males?

Dave H said...

He might have been an innocent pedestrian, or he could have been a scout for a gang. Finding out which would likely involve assault, or at least hurt feelings.

ZerCool said...

Frei - when you think you have the element of surprise and you might get one ... well, sometimes the risk is calculated. And victims tend to be just that - victims. "Here, take ALL our wallets!"

Jay - I was much more comfortable walking from Lidia's back to the garage with five or six other folks with guns.

Jay G said...

Freiheit,

I've had it happen to me personally.

Dave,

He also could have been panhandling - we noticed a lot of homeless in the Pittsburgh area.

Zercool,

As was I. Thanks for watching my back.

Laura said...

that story made me shudder a little the other night...not for the potential injury to you guys, but for the potential attacker's punishment.

boy would have been in a heap of trouble.

related: leaving Lidia's was like walking around certain parts of Baltimore at night.

Dave H said...

Jay: Could be, but most panhandlers I've encountered (we have a good crop in Rochester) will speak as soon as they're in voice range, and if they follow you it's because they're still begging.

You mentioned a personal defense spike, so I wanted to ask you a philosophical question. What's your thinking on drawing a weapon when threatened by someone not obviously carrying: a measured response (the spike in this case) or a show of force (a gun)?

Mike W. said...

Did you see the characters who pulled up outside lidia's just as we were leaving?

Definitely Pittsburg's most upstanding citizens...

Bubblehead Les. said...

When I ended up parking out by the Consol Friday morning, and walked in to the Convention center, it was a warm, comforting feeling to know my Smith was where everyone around me could see it. Same thing Saturday Night with my Cane and my Baby Browning (Formal Attire, after all!), yet T-Bolt and the Miller and I received no hassles from the street people as we strolled back to our vehicles from Lidia's. Act like a Sheep Dog, the Wolves tend to think twice. Those who aren't vying for Darwin Awards, that is.

Pamela said...

A welcome reminder about awareness, whether one is in Pittsburgh, Boston, or in the 'burbs. More and more, you see young women (and men) so wrapped up in talking or texting on their cell phones or listening to iPods with headphones that they wouldn't see an attacker until he was on top of them.

Dragon said...

It wasn't chastising, my friend...I was trying my hand at channeling R. Lee Ermey. :-)

Anonymous said...

Dude!
Prepare for Instalaunch!
Mycroft

Marc said...

Instapundit visitor here...

I had a similar, but closer encounter in the somewhat dark parking lot of a big box store.

I guy jumped out behind us from between two cars... "Hey buddy, you've got a nice car there, I'm sure you can spare some gas"

I guess my slight crouch, and gun hand half out of my pocket, and my repeated "Dude, you'd best get the fuck away from me, NOW!" he decided it'd be healthier to do so.

By the way, he DID stop his forward motion toward me about 15 feet away, and he never showed a weapon, so I didn't draw my pistol more than about an inch out of my pocket. He coulnd't see what was in my hand, I think he had a pretty good idea because he vanished FAST.

He had avoided the well lighted part of the parking area as well as a gas station not 50 yards from where we were standing. It was a ruse and I have NO doubt that if I hadn't been aware and prepared, the outcome would have been much different. For various reasons, I don't look like "prey" but I guess the guy saw the car, it was dark and figured he'd give it a go.

And some of my friends think I'm paranoid or deranged because I carry. Go figure.

Marc said...

Instapundit visitor here...

I had a similar, but closer encounter in a somewhat dark parking lot of a big box store.

I guy jumped out behind us from between two cars (where he was obviously crouched because I LOOK when I walk)... "Hey buddy, you've got a nice car there, I'm sure you can spare me some gas"

I guess my quick turn on him, slight crouch, and gun hand half out of my pocket, together with a "Dude, you'd best get the fuck away from me!" convinced him it'd be healthier to do so.

He had avoided the well lighted part of the parking area as well as a gas station not 50 yards from where we were standing. It was a ruse to get me to think him harmless and I have NO doubt that if I hadn't been aware and prepared, the outcome would have been much different. For various reasons, I don't look much like "prey" but I guess the guy saw the car, it was dark and figured he'd give it a go.

And some of my friends think I'm paranoid or deranged because I carry. Go figure.

RightWingNutter said...

I think your spike is what I used to call a yawara stick. Quite legal if there was no metal involved. Mine (I made them) were hickory and turned so that a rather conical not-quite-point stuck out an inch past my thumb and a blunt hammer end projected about half that distance beyond the pinkie.

Amazingly effective on quite a number of target areas.

Jum said...

What a perfect example of the utility - hell, the very purpose, even necessity - of the open-carry statutes. Well done, and I'm glad one of you had some situational awareness. A weapon in the hands of a head that's asleep is no weapon at all.

No firearm owner I know wants to have to use a firearm: they want a firearm's presence to prevent the necessity of its use.

John said...

When my daughter was going into Boston every week for tutoring session, I made her a 'Hair Stick'. It was made from African Blackwood - so dense that it will not float in water.

It had this crescent moon handle and a spike about 4 inches long.

Just so she could keep her hair out of the way when studying of course....

LakeLevel said...

I was walking out of a night club late at night in Saint Paul with a date. About 150 feet from the door I noticed 2 disrespectable looking gentlemen get out of a car across the street and start angling across towards us. They where they were going to come onto the sidewalk between the cars, one of them on each side of us. I'm not sure if it was the way they were looking at us, but I did not hesitate in wheeling my data around and picking up the pace back to the night club. When I looked back, they ran back across the street, got in their car and drove away. Two dudes do not get out of a car in the middle of the night to ask for directions. If I had hesitated even a second, they would have had us surrounded. It's not just awareness, but awareness and being willing to act quickly.

Jum said...

Dave H., you're absolutely right about panhandlers speaking as soon as reaching voice range. They understand the danger-distance equation, and know to signal their non-violent intentions so as not to spook their potential donors.

That's how I know the guy who was 15 yards away and fast-walking toward me, who then immediately broke at about 150° angle (after having shadowed me for 3 blocks) just as soon as he saw the pistol at the small of my back, did not have peaceful intentions.

I love these folks who weren't there and have no idea what happened, but somehow think they are so much smarter than the guy who was there that they feel free to suggest what "really" happened.

Anonymous said...

I've had that same thing happen to me in Phila. and that same breakaway when I pulled my jacket back, exposing my holstered Glock.
You can always wonder if your suspicions were accurate, but better safe than sorry!
BTW, I always thought something like the spike you mentioned was a "prohibited offensive weapon."

Orion said...

Had a similar thing happen when I lived in Tucson with my fiance'. Fairly late in the evening, we were just coming back from a night-time shoot out in the desert. We had a shoot-n-scoot type course set out there in the middle of nowhere where we could all train on various scenarios. Tonight's was responding to a night home invasion.

This means we were both wearing blue BDU's and boonie caps and openly carrying our Kimber .45's - ProCarry II for me and an Ultra Carry for her in Fobus Combat Holsters. Kinda obvious.

Anyway, Tweedledum and Tweedledee come screeching up to the front of the Safeway and Tweedledee piles out of the car leaving the door open. Tweedledum keeps the engine running. Tweedledee sprints into the store, gets one look at us and stops dead in his tracks. Stares briefly at the pistols and spare mags and begins shopping for...tampons...maxi-pads...that sort of thing. Looks at yesterday morning's paper for a while...Then runs back to the car and they squeal off into the night.

PCSO said they were probably going to rob the place. Pity...we were fresh from training! It would've been fun! LOL

Orion

Marc said...

I have mixed feelings about open carry. I'm not ambiguous about the RIGHT to carry openly... totally in favor of that. Here in Florida, they are in the process of passing open carry, actually it's more about an accidental exposure of a CCW holder not being a crime...but anyway... I've always thought that there is the possibility that a thug or psycho or two coming in to rob or shoot up a place might see someone carrying openly and shoot that person first. I'd rather have the element of surprise. But perhaps the deterrent benefit outweighs the possibility of being the first target. Regardless of which is actually best, I would think that carrying openly would at first make one feel pretty conspicuous.