There are two videos that should go along with this, but the brand-new, handy-dandy, high-speed/low-drag "video" option on Blogger isn't working for me.
The videos will be posted later -- if Blogger gets the problem worked out.
A Gentle Reader sent me an e-mail detailing an encounter she had earlier this year, an encounter she believes was intended to make her a victim. Attached to the e-mail were videos from two separate security cameras, one showing the the incident and the other showing actions of ...
Since my Gentle Reader was not harmed, nor the victim of crime, we shall not refer to her opponent as "Critter". He may -- doubtful, I believe -- have been an innocent man in the wrong place, at the wrong time. While, as I stated above, I have no doubt that he did intend an assault or other crime, he did not follow through. Since everyone is innocent until proven guilty, we shall refer to him as "Person of Interest".
The camera-view of the actions of the Person of Interest -- POI -- following the incident are particularly interesting.
I have spoken with the young lady, and with her kind permission, I will reprint pertinent paragraphs of her report -- redacting personal and ID information as per usual for The LawDog Files -- and add my own commentary following.
Before we start there are two things I feel I must make clear.
The first, and least important thing is that gratitude should not be rendered to me. The young lady makes a point to thank me for advice I have written on this blog. I was not there. It was not my instincts, nor my reflexes, that carried her through the incident.
Yes, I have posted some advice -- however -- the initiative to read that advice, to remember it, and to apply it when necessary, is all hers. Not mine.
Second. Above all else, remember: she came through this incident without being harmed or victimized. Survival is not a graded test. You do not survive an encounter with an 80%, or a 90, or a 70. You either survive it, or you do not. It is, simply put, pass or fail.
My Reader passed. Which means she did everything right. As I comment on her report, I will mention things that I would wish that she had done differently; and other of my Gentle Readers will doubtlessly feel other tactics would have been more viable. Maybe so, but bear in the front of your mind: she came through the incident without being harmed and without being victimized -- therefore she did everything right.
So, we begin:
My story begins early on Friday the [redacted]th of [redacted]. I live in rural [redacted], but work in [redacted], on the edge of what is rapidly becoming known as the bad side of town. Never knowing what traffic is going to be like, I leave pretty early to make it to the office on time. This particular Friday found me arriving exceptionally early due to a lack of utter fools on the road (for once. Every once in awhile, it DOES happen!), so I decided to swing into a local establishment to grab a breakfast kolache, then head back to work. I pulled into a side of the drive that’s not normal for me and noticed a Character walking along the back edge of the lot. Not unusual as we’re pretty surrounded by apartments and we’re between them and the local bus stops. Fortunately, I have assigned covered parking at my office. Unfortunately, it’s in the back far corner of the lot from the building, and right close to where said Character is walking. I keep my eye on the guy as I pull past him and turn down my row and park.
I sincerely suggest that my Gentle Readers read Gavin de Beckers' book 'The Gift of Fear'. While I do not agree with some of Mr. de Beckers politics, his book about intuition and survival is priceless. Please do not order it from Amazon.com -- Barnes and Noble has it in their on-line section.
The intuition of my Gentle Reader is warning her about this man. Many people these days ignore that tiny voice in the back of their minds. Person of Interest is a minority male. It would be all-to-easy for the lady in this situation to write off the warning note of her intuition as being the product of stereotyping, or of unconscious racism. She did not do so, and thus managed -- in my mind -- to avoid becoming a victim.
That was my first mistake.
I should have kept driving. I drive a small Rav4, and I’ve got a huge Ford with a truck bed top parked on one side of me, and a huge suburban parked on the other side, so when I park, I can’t see anywhere but right behind me. Not sure of what the Character is doing, I decide to wait in my locked car for awhile, and watch for him to pass along the back of my Rav4 on his way (presumably) to the bus stop. I put on some lipstick. I listen to an interview on the radio. I gather all my belongings. The entire time I’m trying to watch the back of my truck in the rearview mirror to see when he passes by. He never does. So I try to look through the windows of the Ford next to me to see if I can see him. They’re tinted, and while I can barely see through them, I certainly don’t see my Character back there at all. So I make the assumption that he went a different way.
This is where things begin to go pear-shaped. The POI has broken pattern. If he had followed the pattern he was in when she first saw him, she would have seen him pass her vehicle. He didn't, and the way his pattern was broken suggest he was hiding from her. Why?
That was my second mistake.
I decide to go ahead and grab my stuff, get out, and head into work. I lock the car behind me, step out from behind my truck and make the realization that the Character had hidden on the other side of the Ford and had waited for me that entire time. I usually walk at a pretty good clip, so I was walking fast when I came out from behind the cars and I keep going. He proceeds to get in step behind me. Huge warning sirens are going off in my head. I start looking all over the parking lot. Unfortunately, I’ve timed it well. There’s no one else out there. And since he’s walking right behind me, it’s pretty obvious that he’s got something nefarious in mind. I make a point to look over my shoulder at him a couple of times so that he knows I know he’s there. That doesn’t deter him in the slightest. By now I’m starting to get frantic. I’m making sure to stay in as open an area as possible as I cut under another set of covered parking and finally get out in the open parking. I don’t know if he’s after my purse, or after me and I’m on the verge of panic. Yet, I’m also flying through things in my mind on what to do, and a lot of things start popping up. The thought crosses my mind that my body language will have a huge effect on what occurs. If I act like a victim, I’ll be one. Also, I’ve heard in situations like this that one of the best things I can do is confront the guy and a lot of times they’ll back down when they see you’re not afraid. So I pull my hands up and grab my purse strap in front of me (lesson number 1 from you: don’t leave your hands at your sides, use ANYTHING as a weapon). Then I abruptly turn around and ask “Can I help you with something?” while making sure to stare straight in his face. When I did this, I discovered he was not more than a couple steps behind me. He had gotten way too close. My abrupt turn and question caught the Character off guard. The look on his face was priceless. He managed to mumble a ‘no’ and walked past me as I stood there watching him. I let him get a bit in front of me then started walking, keeping him right in front of me and in sight until he started off to the side of the building and I turned to go into the front door.
The video shows a parking lot, bordered on the far side by a covered parking structure. The parking lot is two spaces wide, and a minimum of twelve spaces across, with five vehicles parked. Gentle Reader and POI are the only two people ever seen. The two enter the field of view at the top right, with POI about 8 to ten feet behind Gentle Reader. At the time she turns to confront him, he has advanced to somewhat under lunging distance -- well within her comfort zone.
This is a wide open outdoor parking lot. It is not a bar, checkout line or other choke-point where we accept others inside our personal space. So, why is he so far into her personal space?
She turns to confront POI, and he walks away ahead of her. I would have preferred that she wait by the end of the car where the confrontation was initiated, then leave the area 90 degrees to his route -- but she got through the incident without being injured or victimized, so my preference is only that -- a preference.
As POI exits the area, he surreptitiously removes a cell phone from a pocket on his left side -- away from Gentle Reader. This is the end of the first video.
On the second video, we see POI walking away from the camera. He operates the phone, and then begins speaking into it as he walks away. I count four glances back at Gentle Reader before POI breaks into a leisurely run and disappears off the top of the screen.
Why is he running? He is wearing khaki slacks and what looks to be a knit short-sleeved shirt. He is in the Deep South, in summer -- why run? It is not a panicked run, nor is it the run of a man responding to a threat.
My gut tells me that Person of Interest was considering an act which he believed that my Gentle Reader would probably object to. When she turned to confront him, she disrupted the flow of events that he expected to occur -- or that he had experienced conducting similar acts in the past.
When she didn't respond the way he expected -- when she became more difficult prey -- he broke off and called a friend for either back-up or a more speedy escape from the situation. The glances back were to see if Gentle Reader was doing something threatening -- calling police, summoning bystanders or the like.
Finally, unexpended adrenaline that he built up during his expectation of committing his act, together with the need to get away from his unexpectedly-difficult intended victim caused him to break into a run, evac-ing the area.
I do believe, based on the videos and on information provided by my Gentle Reader that she did, indeed, avoid an assault or other victimization.
She further identified where she thought she could have done better, and decided upon further training to increase her options, should a similar situation present itself.
She did very well, and I thank her for sharing her experience with me, and allowing me to share it with the rest of my Gentle Readers.
Bloody hell, they're up.
One thing I should have pointed out in the original post is that the area that POI runs through at the end of video #2 is the same area that he and Gentle Reader first appeared at the beginning of video #1.