Ep. 7 Should I Shoot? The Fleeing Suspect And the Good (But Dead) Samaritan

Editor’s Note: The following is a post from Sammy Reese, a former Marine Corps Artillery Officer and retired police officer from California. He is a part-time range master for the police department he retired from as well as a life-long martial artist and combatives coach.

I just read in the news that a concealed carry permit holder attempted to intervene in a domestic violence circumstance and ended up being shot and killed. I don’t have all the details and I’m quite certain the media will put a spin on the event to suit their needs, so getting all the facts might take some time.

A man shot at a woman in a parking lot outside of a store. One round went into the ground and another went into her leg. The attacker attempted to flee the scene. A husband and father of three witnessed the shooting and went to his vehicle to retrieve his pistol. When he attempted to stop the attacker from leaving, the attacker shot the man in his head, killing him instantly.

Decision-Making

As I previously mentioned, I won’t tell you what to do or when to do it, but I will give you some food for thought to help you expand your thought process, give your software (brain) as much of an upgrade as possible and push you to be proficient with your hardware (self-defense tools).

When I read about the above incident, my first thought was, “Why?” Why did this gentleman make the decision to do what he did? We all should have a line in the sand, so to speak, as to when we will get involved. I plan to make you think about all kinds of “what if?” situations and discuss plans and your individual line placement.

I recently wrote about all the “what ifs?” when caught in the middle of a convenience store robbery. The example I gave had no shots fired. In this case, as near as I can tell from the reports, the attacker fired two shots at the woman and later one fatal shot at the Good Samaritan. Do the first two shots change things? To me, it shows the attacker had crossed the line from brandishing a weapon during an argument and was now somewhere between assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder. In this case, the woman was hit in the ankle, so was he a bad shot?

Why Do You Carry Concealed?

Based on what I know of the situation, I have to go back to the reason I carry a concealed weapon: to protect my family and myself. I’m not a cop anymore. Even if I was, if I was off duty during this event, I’d be in witness-and-report mode. If I was with my family, I’d get them behind the best cover I could find. It might be in the truck heading the other way. I’d call 911 and give the dispatcher a play-by-play so responding officers would know as much as possible before they get on scene: suspect description, type of weapon seen, how many shots fired, suspect’s direction of travel, type of vehicle, number and type of injuries the first responders are going to have to deal with, etc. One thing I can guarantee is there will be cops coming with lights and sirens going. Depending on where you live population-wise, there might be a lot of them coming and they will have all kinds of tools at their disposal to take the attacker into custody.

A good man lost his life doing what he thought was the right thing based on his training and experience. I wasn’t there, so I won’t comment as to right or wrong, but what I will do is use this incident to create thinking and dialog for men and women who carry concealed. I want the good guys to make good decisions.

Is there a possibility that if the bad guy is not stopped, he will drive off and continue shooting people? Sure, anything is possible, but for argument’s sake and the topic of future articles, this isn’t an active shooter. He did what he did and was leaving. What should you do?

What would you have done if you witnessed the same scene? What if you decided to carry a two-shot derringer with you that day? What if you had your grandma with you? Lots of “what if?” questions. Keep adding to the list and keep working the plans so you are as prepared as possible.

For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Brian January 22, 2017, 1:43 pm

    You can pretty much bank on if you shoot a “fleeing suspect” you will go to jail.

    Once a criminal is fleeing the scene your life is no longer threatened. And secondly if you are trying to save the victim that should be your focus.

    Having a gun does not turn you into a cop and you do not have the authority to chase and shoot a supect

    This is a prime example of somebody who should not be carrying concealed.

  • Don from CT December 26, 2016, 10:23 am

    The author hit it on the head when he asked “Why do you carry concealed”. I faced this question several years ago when a friend gave me a scenario of a robbery happening in front of me at a McDonalds, I’m in the back of the store. Do I intervene.
    In that case my answer was a pretty easy “No”.
    Ok. Lets make it harder he says. The McDonalds robber grabs a kid from a customer and says “I need some insurance, you’re coming with me”. Hmm. It changes things, doesn’t it.
    In some ways, it shouldn’t. Do you want to be a good samaritan or is the gun just to protect yourself and your family?

    Its not an easy question with no easy answers. Which is precisely it should be asked.

    Don

  • billybob December 9, 2016, 11:07 am

    Prisons are full of folks thanking they were doing the right thing ! Do you have thousands of dollars to find out if you were right ?
    Will your wife and family be there for you ? Will that person or their family file suit against you ? Will they take everything you have worked for ?

  • Jim Rooth June 18, 2016, 4:57 pm

    A tragic happening but very hard to say, with any honesty, what I would do upon finding myself in the same circumstance. Given any time to react, I hope I would take the bystander position and try to memorize all aspects of what was going down. If he were still shooting, then I would almost certainly open fire. Sadly without knowing all the circumstances that created the situation. If he was protecting himself from her shooting at him and I shot and killed him, then I would surely be headed to jail for a long, long time. I would like to believe I would never put myself in that situation. But being a Marine and having been in combat, I feel sure that things change in a spur of the moment and what I think I would do now and what I would do in a life or death scenario may, in fact, not be the same. I pray to God I will never have to pull my weapon but if I ever have a reason to do so, that my aim is straight and final.

  • Mr Sparkles June 17, 2016, 10:43 am

    Sad tale, sadder ending. Easy to judge with minutes rather then seconds or less to make a decision. Thank you for a good thought provoking article. For all we know, the good Samaritan may have simply said “stop” and gotten shot for it. I will certainly think about this should I ever have the bad luck of being in a similar circumstance.

  • JD MAK June 17, 2016, 7:56 am

    It’s tragic that this gentleman lost his life and I am certainly not going to play Monday morning quarterback here. I can say, however, with 100% certainty that I would have been focused on the victim and not the attacker…IF…IF I was certain that the attacker was leaving the scene. If the bad guy is running away, then I should be in medical first-responder mode.
    Determining whether the scene is safe to enter or approach should be the first priority, followed by care for the wounded once this has been reasonably established. Not sure I would have taken the time to snap a photo with my phone as it takes a very short time for someone to bleed out. Until I’ve checked the victim/patient, I have no way of knowing the extent and seriousness of his or her injuries. Again, this is just my approach to dealing with situations in which someone has been attacked and injured.

  • RJFixer June 17, 2016, 5:08 am

    The most critical element is your intent and purpose in having a concealed weapon. For me, self defense and defense of those I care for is it. Thee may be circumstances wherein I choose to extend that defense to a helpless victim if danger presents, but I would always be looking for the possibility of not needing to draw and fire my weapon. I am not the Avenging Angel of The Lord, here to chase the bad guys and help produce a capture, beyond the obvious of informing officers of what I have witnessed. Besides which, just consider it from a practical tactical point of view. If Bad Guy is fleeing, wouldn’t that mean that the shooting vectors would be rapidly changing? So, how are you clearing your background so that you always have a safe shot that won’t take out Grandma hanging her laundry in the back yard 350 feet away? Are you that good that you know you can produce a wound with enough bone strike that the bullet always stays right there and doesn’t go skipping down the street into the crowd of kids waiting for their bus? Here’s an idea. Shoot them with your camera. We almost all have one in our phones. As soon as my personal danger is past, boy, I’d be 911’ing it and get the pics rolling. Another reason is how badly I know I’d be witnessing things. Not having that particular skill set has left me in the dust when arguing with my wife – I doubt I’d be any better at it while shaking from adrenal rush and relief from not being killed just then.

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