Neutralizing The Threat

Take That! An armed robber is struck by a chair wielding customer

The other day I watched some CCTV footage from the US where a man is holding up a convenience store at gunpoint. The sales clerk can’t open the till so he fires two rounds in to the floor next to her feet and threatens to shoot her next. Meanwhile a customer has stepped up behind the gunman and he hits him on the head with a full beer bottle. You see the beer splash everywhere. The gunman turns, grapples with the shopper, they fall to the floor then the gunman breaks free and backs off, shooting the shopper four times. He gets away and hopefully the shopper will soon recover.

What is interesting about this scenario is that the gunman was hit very hard on the back of his head with a full bottle of beer. The bottle smashed into pieces, yet it didn’t drop him like it does in the movies. He might have been high on drugs or just full of adrenaline he was impervious to the pain.

This highlights a point I like to make that merely hitting someone, even hard across the back of the skull with a full bottle of beer, is no guarantee a desired result will occur. What if the shopper had come in from the side slightly and struck the man’s gun hand wrist? I think he would have dropped the gun and that might have meant the shopper wasn’t shot four times. Yes it is a hypothetical and of course, he might have been unable to reach around to the wrist but in the calm, safe environment of my office I can think of several better options. I would like to think I would think of them if it were I in that convenience store but who knows?

Another CCTV clip, this time from a betting shop in the UK shows a man being threatened by a gunman who he says had said he was going to shoot him. You can see in the clip that he at first leaves the bank, but then returns. Was he looking to play hero or just angry? Note also the man who stands at what looks like an ATM oblivious of the drama unfolding behind him. This is an example of someone being so focused on what they are doing they fail to notice what is going on around them. This is precisely the situation that allows for people to be blind sided and ambushed.

The good Samaritan meanwhile picks up a handy chair and brings it down hard on the gunman’s wrist, forcing him to protect his gun. Then he charges in with the chair and takes the gunman down, kicking the gun away and controlling him in a leg lock. This man was facing the gunman, not coming up from behind. The gunman had already said he would shoot, hence the defender felt he had nothing to lose. Yet the gunman didn’t shoot and that is a telling point also. If he really intended to shoot, or if the weapon was real and loaded (it turned out to be  a replica pistol) then he would have shot. But most criminals use weapons to threaten and intimidate, to control and not so much to harm intentionally. Of course there are the other kind that just want to hurt and don’t really care about money or other valuables their victim may have.

In the second scenario the hero made a conscious decision, took action and won. He attacked the weapon and the weapon hand, neutralized it effectively and then was on more equal terms with his opponent. The first guy also made a conscious decision, but he attacked the man, failed to neutralize the weapon threat and he took four slugs for his heroism, although it could be argued he saved the clerk from getting shot, possibly fatally. His gunman did shoot and had already shot twice when he was in no danger, so he can’t say he only shot because he feared for his life, can he?

Many criminals who do use a weapon claim they didn’t mean to hurt anyone but they were scared, felt trapped and acted in self defence. Maybe so but they were the ones that tooled up and went and broke the law in the first place. The point to heed is that you can’t know if your criminal is just trying to scare you or he is in the middle of a psychotic episode.You take your gun toting armed robbers as you find them.

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