Tuesday, August 28, 2007

After Action Report

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.

Anyhoo.

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.

LawDog

Edit: Finally!


video


video

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.

LawDog

32 comments:

Xander said...

My curiosity has gotten the better of me. May I ask why you suggested that we avoid Amazon.com when looking for the book that was mentioned?

LawDog said...

http://tinyurl.com/2sgmfr

While Amazon.com has the right to publish poetry by paedophiles glorifying child molestation, I also have the right not to support those who support paedophilia.

LawDog

Annie said...

Thanks for the heads up on a few things:
#1 - this near tragic incident and things to be aware of. Sometimes we can't help where we are (the back of an empty lot) or who we have with us (traveling alone).

#2 - Amazon.com. I didn't know what the heck you were talking about so I googled it. Holy Moly! They won't see one dime from me and I'm sending a few "heads up" emails around as well.

#3 - blogger video.
I can't seem to load my own personal video either. But ones that I have saved from elsewhere load fine. With mine, blogger seemingly is saving them and then near the end it says "unable to connect to blogger". Every time.
What problem are you having? And have you tried the difference between your own video and one that was already on the net somewhere?
BTW, the net video file was larger than my personal one... seems like it should have gone the other way around. Guess I'll still be muddling through with YouTube embeds until I figure it out.

Squeaky Wheel said...

You can literally find almost anything on Amazon.com, and that bothers me.

Good for her! I don't know what I would have done in the situation, but chances are good that I would have looked right at them while opening my cell phone to dial 9-1-1 (while still walking away from them, of course), which could either get me immediately killed, or scare the person enough to have them run away. Sometimes you just have to make that gamble.

Anonymous said...

This is why I want my wife to start carrying a gun. I have a Kel-Tec 380 that would be a perfect purse gun.

Heck, it weighs less than her Treo.

Good thing the POI was startled, because although she didn't say so, I betcha he outweighed her by 50 lbs.

It's bad to be grabbed from behind, but it's much worse to have someone break your nose from in front.

Unix-Jedi said...

Re: The Gift Of Fear

Truely an excellent work, marred only by Becker's elitism and inability to resist preaching "The Only One" religion at the end.

He spends the whole book telling you, demonstrating that you're the best judge, evolution has crafted you to have instincts that you should trust, but then at the end; Don't Get A Gun! You Can't Be Trusted! without noting how that rather fatally wounds the rest of the book's hypothesis.

Read it til he starts talking about guns, then put it down, and you'll appreciate it much more, IMO.

LawDog said...

Yeah, those would be the politics I don't agree with.

However, much like everything else, "take what is useful and discard the rest."

Xander said...

Ah, gotcha. I'm not sure how I missed the earlier post, but thank you for the re-explanation and the link.

Simeron said...

I knew about the Amazon thing and have done what little I can to alert people...might add another note to the blog, not that many read it.

Confrontation is not a prey response really. Its only cornered prey that normally turns on the attacker. She wasn't cornered yet it sound like so her action seems to have changed the predator (I would call him that but hey, I understand POI too) to prey. He felt, apparently, as if he became the hunted. The glances back reinforce this I think as he now is concerned OTHERS are looking for him.

As you said, we can critque all we like, what she did worked thankfully. Therefore, she passed this test. Further kudos (again as you pointed out) that she seeks to improve her skills in these areas.

I'm reminded that during the Virgina Tech massacre, students allowed themselves to be shot while kneeling. Whenever I think of this, or hear similar events, my gut ties into a knot. That goes against every fiber of my being, mental, physical, spiritual, emotional.

I've said it before and will probably say it again. My idea of gun control is hitting a moving target at range one handed and they can take my gun when they pry it empty out of my cold, dead hands.

Don't ever go down without a fight, make them pay for ever inch they manage to take. You may not make it, but you might save someone else in the process of losing the fight. And at the very least, you've bought a few more seconds for someone else.

Course, I've been told I'm playing with 26 cards in my deck by some (half a deck)...*grin* I wear that with honor concidering who said it..heh.

phlegmfatale said...

Good grief, I had NO idea about Amazon. Sheesh. Thanks for mentioning that.

What a creepy experience for your reader. I'm happy things turned out so well.

Anonymous said...

She disrupted his OODA loop...very good!

Loving Annie said...

Law Dog,
I am glad she got in his face, glad she was safe, and glad that you posted this.
Thank you for reminding me to pay attention to my instincts - and Gavin de Becker too !

Anonymous said...

LD: I'd love to see this vid, and to be able to show it to my wife and daughters.

She did well, but think what could have happened if she'd waited another second.

The REAL lesson here should be "trust your instincts" -- she should have backed out and driven away instead of sitting, putting on makeup, etc.

Anonymous said...

PS:

(1) Meant to sign "DD"
(2) Meant to say "could you post on YouTube? Copy anywhere else and share the link?

DD

Anonymous said...

PSS: As regards Amazon, it seems (according to the number one site from my Google search) that Blogger also allows paedophile blogs. As Blogger is owned by Google, will you also close this site, not use GMail or Google search engine?

I hate kid-touchers as much as anyone can, would happily pull the trigger on every one of them, but there comes a point where one must draw a line. I'm afraid I personally agree with the "just cause we don't like it doesn't mean we should censor it" school of thought.

IT seems their stance is "fantasies are one thing, suggesting one should follow through is where the problems begin."

In my mind, it's a short leap from censoring them to censoring me for saying (for example) "Rope. Tree. Politicians. Some assembly required."

While I may be fantasizing about hanging politicians, I am not threatening to do so, nor advocating anyone else do so.

$0.02...

DD

Mad Jack said...

I'm not sure how many times I've avoided becoming a victim by acting to break the normal progression, but I'm fairly certain there were a few thugs that re-thought their plan after I made eye contact and refused to show any fear.

A more amusing story happened to a friend of mine who was stuck taking the bus home when her car broke down. Leslie (not her real name) is physically fit, large and holds a black belt in Aikido. She practices constantly, and doesn't mind getting banged up during practice. And so, you see, when poor Leslie was forced to take the bus home because the (expletive of choice) car broke down, and the tow truck wouldn't be there for over two hours, and she HAD to get home for a birthday party or some such, and she was going to be late, and it started to rain... and so, when a poor old wino stalked and swayed over to her to beg for money, Leslie snapped into a fighting stance and screamed "Touch me and I'll rip your lungs out!".

Startled and scared, the wino tried to retreat and ended up falling all over himself. He ended up a good distance away, protesting that all he wanted was a quarter.

Anonymous said...

Great writeup by her, and commentary by you. Seems that she broke into his OODA loop effectively and, him being not-so-swift, he had to pause and reflect.

Jerry The Geek said...

I'm reminded of a lady friend who was confronted by a pair of villains in a shuttle-bus parking lot early one workday morning.

They had just got into the verbal harassment phase when she grabbed the strap of her shoulder-bag with her left hand and put her right hand into her overcoat pocket.

It was a cold winter morning, and the Concealed Carry Law had been enacted in this state the year before.

The villains backed off immediately, saying "you've got a gun in that pocket, doncha!"

Exit villains stage left, promptly, leaving a string of cold curses in their slime trail.

Anything it takes. Anything at all.

(And who says Concealed Carry laws don't provide a benefit for EVERY citizen?)

Anonymous said...

Well, B&N carries Anne Geddes, too.

Suz said...

Great post. Thank you, and thanks to your Gentle Reader for sharing her story. With video yet (let's hope we will eventually be able to see the vids too.)

Not three hours ago, I instantly turned and walked down a different hallway in a building because I didn't like the looks of someone I could see through glass doors ahead of me. Didn't second-guess myself, just did it.

It's taken me several decades of life (I'm in my late 50's) to get to that point. It scares me how young women in our society are socialized to be polite and seek approval and not make a fuss. To the point of ignoring their intuition when it's reading "danger!"

Anonymous said...

The part where your reader turned and startled the POI... that reminds me a whole lot of what LawMom said about attacking like a savage rabbit. The reader sounded like she was ready.

And like you said, she survived without being harmed or victimized. Other than not showing POI the up-close muzzle view of a .45, I wouldn't suggest anything different. Good thing a weapon turned out to not be necessary.

mustanger98 on THR

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

Thank you for posting this.

The more of these incidents we think about in advance, the better our reaction will be when there is no time to think.

Oana said...

Thanks for the post, and to the lady for sharing. The video provides great illustration. He was close, nearly ran right into her. Makes ya think twice about doing something like getting out of the car despite a gut feeling.

dea_vour said...

I work with sex offenders and fantasy always turns in reality.The general public has no idea how bad there obsession is.We have a counseling program and I have heard graphic first hand accounts from child molesters.From my experience any one that supports that to avoid censorship is one and is grooming the public.Thats what they do 24 hours a day so you will trust them so they can commit there crimes.

Anonymous said...

Something very very bad almost happened in that video. Acting smart prevented it. The thug had some evil intentions.

As for Amazon I've supported every bookseller who has sold heretical and controversial books from Loompanics (r.i.p.) to the local bookstore. Amazon may offer repugnant books and barnes and noble may sell david hamilton and jock sturgis which people find repugnant. I frankly don't care who sells or reads what. I'll not accept the tyranny over the human mind and thought or the printed page.

Gabby said...

My gunsmith's (unfortunately retired) wife, the white haired granny type, was leaving a large shopping mall north of Houston during the Christmas season.

Laden with purse and packages, she paused at the curb to have a look before continuing on into the open parking lot to her vehicle. Two perps were leaning against the wall on either side of the mall entrance/exit. After crossing the roadway into the parking area, she check over her shoulder again, and sure enough, both had begun a flanking manuever.

She walked between two cars as quickly as she could, put down her packages and purse and came up with her .38 snubby about the time the perps were closing--one from in front, and one from behind.

Her loud words were "OK, which one of you dirtbags wants to die first??" as she came up in a Weaver stance. The dirtbags took to their heels.

Granny is an "Old Gunsite" graduate.

Happy ending to a true story.

Anonymous said...

anonymous-
Lack of freedom of choice leads to book burning a la Hitler's Germany. By the same token, we have the right to boycott sellers of indecent and suggestive 'literature' if we see fit. Tyranny over the human mind exists only if we are not independent thinkers with the courage to back it up. My, I CHOOSE to abjure Amazon. I can do that. You can do your thing.
LawMom

Anonymous said...

Great post. Thanks to you, and to your Gentle Reader for sharing her story.

But remember
1. there are cameras and recorders present because the owner/managers knows of the potential;
2. she was alone, no cavalry to her rescue - no one watching the camera
3. the camera only records for later prosecution, cameras do not protect that is left to the individual

chalmitch

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for posting this story. Most of your readers tend to be active when it comes to personal safety, but for the few who aren't, the story and the videos are invaluable. ~Elizabeth

HerrBGone said...

In video 2 after the POI leaves the frame, a dark (possibly shadowed?) sedan I seen driving through the top of the frame from about where the POI had just exited our view. This may be entirely coincidence. Still, the immediate use of the cell phone seems to me to indicate signaling a getaway car and driver which would lead to a POI #2 (details unknown) and a possible vehicle of interest seen at the end of the video. If the vehicle appearing when and where it did is not coincidence, then there is no question of extreme nefarious intent.

In any event, thanks for posting and congratulations to your Gentle Reader for passing the test.

HerrBGone

HerrBGone said...

Should have read: "sedan is seen" Someday I’ll learn to type…

Anonymous said...

B&N is ...let's say "casual" about paying their bills. And those marvy discounts? FORCIBLY wrenched from publishers. We get shafted and consumers think B&N is the good guy. At least Amazon pays on time, 30 days, in full and they don't jerk you around with chargeback strategies designed to inflate their margins. B&N pays in advance or I don't ship. Btw, that's why you can't get all kinds of books from them.