It is always massively preferable to learn lessons from other people’s misfortunes rather than to be doomed to repeat their experiences ourselves.
One of the great ways to learn about street survival skills is to see real world examples of what can happen to people who aren’t prepared for the events that evolve.
Here’s one such a dismaying scenario, a story full of lessons for us, and happily able to be experienced and enjoyed in the safety and comfort of our living rooms. We suggest you view the video to see what happened, and then read on for our analysis of the salient facts and our recommendations for how to avoid becoming a similar victim, yourself.
So, this young man (24) had his car break down when driving home late one night. He left his car, and decided to walk the short distance the rest of the way home. It was an upmarket residential neighborhood in Tampa, and so he probably felt there to be little threat to his safety in doing so. And as an army soldier, he doubtless felt reasonably well prepared to handle any low level of casual threat.
It seems there were three people ahead of him walking in the same direction. One of them turned and walked back, and asked if the soldier could spare him a dollar. Rather than refusing, the soldier agreed, and reached for his wallet.
While distracted by the task of getting his wallet, the person who had approached him immediately attacked him, joined within a second by one of the other two people.
As you can see on the video, the third person comes back to the soldier as well, but hesitates before joining in, then starts to kick and punch the soldier with every bit as much effort and enjoyment as the other two.
But wait, there’s more. A fourth guy comes running up from behind – but is he there as an avenging angel to save the soldier? No! It seems he has seen the potential opportunity to anonymously join in the beating up of a white guy, and joins in for the sheer devilry of it.
Maybe he was a member of an organized gang of four patrolling for victims, but we kinda doubt that, because it seems from the timing that he was too far away to be actively aggressively circling in from behind.
So that’s what happened. Now for the lessons.
1. ‘Good’ and ‘Safe’ Neighborhoods Are Sometimes Neither
Bad guys commute to work, just the same as we good guys do. While some neighborhoods are clearly unsafe and high risk, there’s no such thing as a 100% safe area.
Don’t let your guard down just because you feel that you are in a ‘good’ neighborhood.
The victim probably thought ‘I’m in a good neighborhood, and I’ve agreed to give this guy the dollar he asked for, so I have nothing to worry about’. How wrong was that!
2. Keep Bad Guys A Long Way Away
The next lesson is not to let strangers get close to you, especially on an otherwise empty street late at night. Bad guys tend to be nocturnal, and also prefer empty deserted areas where they can carry out their activities free of interference from others.
If you don’t have your gun in your hand when someone approaches within 21′ of you, the person coming towards you can get to you and start attacking you before you can react and respond and draw your pistol. Indeed, even 21′ is probably too dangerously close, depending on how alert you are (ie how long from when you finally recognize a threat to when you then respond to it) and how quickly you can access your pistol and present it.
That fancy ultra-concealable holster? The one that takes you two seconds to access and get your gun from and pointed in? Add another half second or more for reaction time, and in 2.5 – 3 seconds, a bad guy can cover more like 21 yards than 21 feet. That’s a huge danger/vulnerability radius.
One more thing about the danger radius. If it is something more than 21′ for one person, it becomes appreciably more for two people. Maybe it takes you half a second after shooting at a first aggressor to recover your sight picture and switch to lining up on a second aggressor. In that same half second, the second aggressor can get 10 or more feet closer to you. If there are three aggressors, then the third one has another 10 ft while you are dealing to the first two. If there are four, not only does the fourth have another 10 ft (we are now at 50 ft out, by the way) but almost certainly, one of the first three was not stopped by your first shot and is now approaching you
3. Identify Potential Threats
Another lesson is to identify potential threats. On the face of it, a low-profile slouched over beggar type person asking for a bit of spare change doesn’t seem like the sort of person about to viciously beat you up. But attackers are masters of the art of disguise – of disguising their true intentions. Asking for some change or asking for the time or asking for directions are all great ways of misdirecting their target individual. The perceived normalcy of such requests obscures the threat behind them.
It doesn’t matter what the purpose or reason – you must keep strangers safely away from you, and if they approach you, you need to be able to react.
We of course don’t know, but we’ll guess that in a fair fight, where the soldier and first attacker were both told to go at it, then the soldier may or may not have prevailed, but probably he’d not have immediately been cold-cocked and knocked to the ground. But because the aggressor had the benefit of total surprise, his first blow set the scene and took out the soldier immediately, and from that point forward, it was really just a question of how much beating the aggressor and his one, two, three friends would give to the soldier.
This encounter was lost in a fraction of a second, because the soldier allowed his attacker in close where he could surprise him.
4. Take Control
This guy ended up being beaten by four people, but note the social dynamics of how it played out. There were only two primary aggressors, and only one of the two primary aggressors approached the victim. If the victim had assertively taken control of the situation at an early point, the first aggressor almost certainly would have backed off, the second aggressor would have stayed back, and the other two participants would have done nothing at all.
As you see on the video, the third person only joins in when he is certain there is no danger to himself. The fourth person’s motivations are unclear – we earlier guessed he might be just a casual passer-by who saw a safe opportunity to strike some blows for ‘racial freedom’ or whatever.
In any group, there are only a very few people who will aggressively lead and initiate a violent action. Most of the group members will hang back and only take part when they are no longer needed – when it is safe for them to do so. If you can confront the leaders up front, the others will pose less threat to you.
If you’re facing down a group of ten people, you can say ‘Okay, so maybe I can and maybe I can’t kill you all. But I for sure can get some of you, and I’m going to shoot you and you first’, pointing at the people closest to you and the ringleaders. ‘So all of you, back off, right now!’ This might take the fight out of the ringleaders, when they realize that there is not safety in numbers.
The other thing you can do is, after making that statement, is get one of the weaker wavering group members to comply. ‘You, start moving back right now!’ As soon as one person starts to back off, the fight goes out of the group as a whole.
5. Beware of the People You Don’t See
In this case, the victim was probably focused on the person who came and asked him for a dollar. But there was another guy close by as another immediate potential threat, another not far away, and a fourth guy behind him.
If you are aware of your surroundings, the fact that there were three people close to you, none of whom looked like people you’d invite home to spend time with your family, and a fourth person behind you, and all of them looked like they might be acting together (same general demographics) you should be on a high level of alertness prior to any of them approaching you.
If one person is a threat, two people together are not twice the threat, they are four times the threat. Three people become nine times the threat, meaning, yes, four people are a sixteen fold increase in threat.
What to Do to Avoid Such Encounters
You can’t afford to get behind the curve on such things. You need to keep distance between you and the potential aggressors, and you need to draw them out and establish a clear signaling of their intentions.
Clearly, you can’t just shoot every group of people you happen to meet on the street just because they’re there – you need to cause them to display bad intent, and you need to give yourself a chance to warn them off and/or completely confirm the threat they pose. This can only be done with time and distance, it can’t be done at a six foot arm’s length sort of encounter.
If someone is traveling in a direction that will cause them to naturally intersect with your own direction of travel, that might be a coincidence. So you change your direction of travel. If the other guy then changes his direction of travel and comes towards you, then your alert level shoots up. He has signaled that he is a potential threat.
Note a key thing here is that the other person comes to you. That is essential. Your ability to claim that someone was an overt threat to you is massively weakened if you approach them.
So, you’ve altered your path of travel, and they’ve altered their path of travel to again intersect with yours. You now need to warn him off and command him to stop, to go away, or whatever. You need plenty of space between the two of you to allow yourself time to determine if your instructions have been complied with or not.
Hopefully, if the potential attacker ignores your request, you still have time to present your weapon and point in, with enough time and distance to warn the bad guy off, rather than needing to immediately shoot.
It goes without saying that if a person altered course to come after you when you altered course to avoid them, if they then failed to stop approaching after you called out to them and asked them to stop and go away, and if they still continued to close the distance when you pointed a gun at them, there is no conceivable way this person is an innocent stranger who just happens to be passing by.
The fact that they are willing to continue the confrontation in the face of your pointed in pistol shows them to be absolutely intent and determined to press the fight to you. You don’t need to know who, what or why, you just know that this person is willing to risk his own life to get to you, and it certainly isn’t so he can simply shake your hand and wish you well.
One Last Lesson
We’ve written 2000 words in this article so far. But every one of those words is useless and meaningless if you don’t have a gun with you and aren’t prepared and able to use it. Your pistol. Don’t leave home without it.