Nov 082011

Very bad things can happen, even in very nice places

A sleepy quiet little town of 220 people in rural Washington state with the unusual name of Humptulips, described by writer Terry Pratchett as his favorite place on earth (although it is far from clear if he has ever visited).  A law-abiding couple in their 80s, well known locally for how fastidiously they cared for their house and garden, who have been living there peacefully for many decades.

Evil seems a long way away from such an idyllic scene.

Maybe you are fortunate enough to live in a similar environment – your own house and land, a nice quiet crime-free town where the most exciting action is the neighbor’s cat getting stuck up a tree.  Or, if not you, maybe your parents, or your brother/sister – anyone you know – lives that type of lifestyle.

If so, you probably feel there’s little need for any degree of alertness or preparedness.  And if you see a stranger coming towards you, you approach him as a friend and ask how you can help.

Besides which, you have a local police force who everyone knows has almost nothing to do apart from operate a couple of speed traps and occasionally give warnings to local teenagers for under age drinking.  If anything ever did go down, they’d be on top of it faster than you could dial 911.

If you find yourself nodding in agreement, prepare for a surprise.  Read this horrific story of the elderly couple described above, and read what happened when a deranged 31 year old man unexpectedly entered their lives.  The husband was killed by this madman, and the wife hacked up with an axe (at the time of writing it is uncertain if she will survive or not).

Read one more thing too – even after the killer told a friend what he had done, even after he told the police the same thing, it took the police 18 hours to get to the house and discover the critically wounded 83 yr old lady lying and dying on the floor.

Lessons to be Learned

Most of us consider our home to be our ultimate ‘safe’ place – but not so much from a security point of view, instead from a state of mind point of view.  And so we let our guard down, and our level of mental alertness slips to the lowest ‘white’ level, which (perhaps paradoxically) makes our home a risky place to be.

Additionally, our instinctive reaction to be friendly and helpful when a stranger approaches blinds us to the unknown risk factors and the potential threat that any stranger poses.

The report doesn’t go into the specifics of how the madman shot the 88 yr old gentleman with a crossbow, but it does indicate that there was at least some period of time when each was visible to the other, and a crossbow is a hard sort of weapon to conceal and also a hard one to instantly deploy.  If the victim had been more alert, if he had more of a defensive mindset, and if he was armed, even while ‘safely’ pottering around in his own beautiful flower garden, it could have been the madman who died, not him, and his wife would still be in perfect health, too.

Instead – and excuse us for being brutally blunt – this man’s complacency not only cost him his own life, but also may lead to the death of his wife, too; while the state and legal system now has a lengthy, complicated, and expensive case to prosecute and a criminal to hopefully incarcerate for many decades to come.

It is probably too much to expect a couple living in a ‘safe’ township to lock their doors and secure their windows, even in the middle of the day while one is in the garden and the other in the kitchen, but it is an unavoidable thought that if the house had been secure, the woman would have been saved.

Lastly, you have probably heard the expression ‘when seconds count, the police are only minutes away‘.  In this case, it should read ‘when seconds count, the police are only 18 hours away’.

It is impossible to understand how it took the police 18 hours to discover the wounded woman inside her house.  The offender had said he had killed two demons.  The husband was dead in the garden.  The wife was nowhere to be found.  Hello?

A Better Approach

If the elderly gentleman had responded cautiously to discovering a stranger walking up his driveway, he could have taken control of the situation.  An assertive authoritative demeanor might have discouraged the madman.

Alternatively, by ‘drawing a line in the sand’ – ie, by telling the stranger ‘STOP’ and, if he didn’t stop, presenting his weapon and saying ‘STOP or I shoot’, and if he still didn’t stop, shooting the attacker, he would have been in control of the situation – he would have been managing the OODA loop – and he would have merely been protecting himself and his wife and their lives.

The reason we present these types of real life examples (there are others in our archives) to you is because they vividly indicate how sudden, deceptive and deadly danger can be, especially in places where we mistakenly perceive ourselves to be relatively safe.  The things unaware people take for granted can get them brutally killed and injured.

Don’t be a victim.  Don’t be unaware.  Embrace the concept of situational awareness and the multi-level series of awareness levels, and never be surprised when things go bad.


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