Self-Defense: You Never Know When, by R.

Editor’s Introductory Note: Today’s feature article is unusual. I have confirmed the veracity of the recounted events. They occurred just a few months ago. This first-hand account from a SurvivalBlog reader illustrates three things:  1.) Why the Second Amendment is so vitally important; 2.)  The importance of always being armed and vigilant; and 3.) The importance of regular training. The way that you train will be the way that you fight.

Because you never know when…

Please respect the author’s privacy in your comments.  Please do not link to any news articles about it. And do not add any details if you know them, or if you ferret them out. Even if you know the name of the city where this incident occurred, please do not mention it. Thanks, – JWR

It was 1 p.m. on a Tuesday. As I drove past the downtown district of my “safe” suburban town, I heard “pop, pop, pop!” This caught my attention and I turned the radio down. As I approached the next stoplight, less than ¼ mile down the road, I saw a couple of cars in the intersection and assumed it must have been a car crash, and that is what I had heard. As I came to a stop behind another vehicle at the light, I could see over that car and there was a person lying in the middle of the road. Three or four people then came out of their cars to render aid. However, none of them touched him. I assumed that he got hit by a car and was in bad shape. I assumed wrong.

Just then, two or three more shots ring out right behind my truck. As I’m looking forward, I see the people that got out running for cover. At the same time a hear a bullet tear through my truck, and what feels like a shotgun blast of glass hit the back of my head. It’s at this point, I realize there is a shooter and that my truck just got hit. I immediately look out my window, and back some, and see a gunman standing over a soon to be victim, in the middle of the road, pointing a gun at his head. I recall vividly seeing the pistol in his right hand, with not just an extended mag, but a drum-fed mag sticking out the bottom of it. I immediately draw my gun from my holster and put my driver’s window down. I remember having my gun up, and sights on him before the window being down, almost shooting through the window. At this time the victim was laying on his back in the middle of the road, and the gunman was standing directly over him, leaning down. I did not want to hit the victim so I waited for the window to come down to have a clear shot.

Again, I had the sights right on him, who was positioned about 25 feet away, 30-45 degrees back, out my driver’s window. He was facing towards the rear of my truck, so his front left side was facing me. At this angle, still sitting in the driver’s seat with my truck in gear and foot on the brake, the muzzle barely poked out my window opening, and my left forearm rested on the door panel, giving good support. With my sights lined up, I was still amazingly calm and collected. I paused for a split second and asked myself how do I know I’m shooting at the right person? I listened, the gunman was silent, no police commands like “show me your hands”, “Stop resisting”, just dead silent. The victim was begging for his life, “No, no, no, don’t shoot…” as he was pawing at the gun being pointed at his head.

This is when I took my first shot. It was well aimed but intentionally high as I did not want to hit the victim I was trying to save. I truly thought that I would hit him once, and he would drop the gun and give up to get aid. That was not the case. He stood straight up, gun still in hand, and started looking for who just shot him, this is when I started to get nervous. I told myself at this point I would keep shooting until he dropped the gun, or went down. Luckily he started spinning to his right, which was away from me. Since I was nervous at this point, I do not recall a clear sight picture, and was really just pointing and shooting. I shot three more times and he kept spinning around, 270 degrees, looking for who was shooting at him. He was to the point of his right side facing me, when after the fourth shot, he fell flat on his back, with the gun only leaving his hand when he hit the concrete.

He’s Down, Now What?

I put my truck in park and started to open my door–thinking I would make sure the gunman is down, and secure the weapon. That’s when the victim, who was still laying on his back at the feet of the gunman, jumps up and starts running at me thanking me for saving his life. I was still unclear of the situation, so I remember staring at his hands and pockets the whole time he came up to me. He actually put his hands on my door, and I had to tell him to get back, and shoved him some. I then closed my door, put it in drive and quickly went to the other side of the street and up in the grass some to get out of the danger area. I put the truck in park again. I got out with the gun at low ready, staying behind the bed of my truck. I could see the gunmen was still not moving, and the victim had wandered to the shoulder off the road, opposite the gunman.

I go back to my cab and get my extended magazine from my center console, strip my partial magazine and leave it on my floorboard, and insert my extended mag. I go to the rear of my truck again to check and gunman is still down, and I don’t see anything else. At this point the sirens are getting close. I know that I don’t want to be the one holding a gun when they arrive to an “active shooter” call, so I holster my Glock 23 back in my Crossbreed holster, but leave my shirt tucked up behind it so it is in plain view.

As the police arrive, they come from the other side of the gunman, so I start walking that way. When the first officer gets to me, I tell him I shot the gunman, he was trying to kill the guy across the street, here is my gun, and I pointed to it. He removed it from my holster and reached for his cuffs. I said” “You’re not cuffing me. I will sit here on the ground.” He hesitated, then allowed me to do so.

I ended up going back to my truck, the rear driver’s side door window was blown out, and I see the bullet hole going into the side of my driver’s seat, but not coming out. There’s one good reason to get leather seats! I put my window up, turned off my truck and locked it up. I wandered across the street to where the victim was, that I saved. He was pretty shaken up, and on the phone with his wife telling her his best friend was just killed. He sees me and asks if I was the guy in the truck. I nodded yes. He came over and hugged me, thanking me for saving his life. I asked him if he was hit at all, and he wasn’t. As the police were putting up their tape, I asked him what happened.

He told me that he and his buddy were working in the cemetery when this guy walked up to them with a gun in his hand. He was incoherent, but he had heard him say, “What am I suppose to do now?” Then raised up the gun and started shooting at the two of them. Luckily he was a bad shot, not hitting them with the first dozen or so rounds, then the two of them ran out across the road. His buddy got hit a couple times at this point, and he watched as the gunman walked up to him in the middle of the intersection, and executed him with three rounds to his chest. These were the three gunshots that I had first heard, while driving. The gunman looked up and spotted him and began chasing him down. The gunman chased him around a couple houses, and over two fences. He ran out behind my truck, crossing the road, but tripped from running too fast. That is when some more shots were fired that went through my truck.

The Aftermath

The police wanted a statement from me and took me back to the police station, about ¼ mile away. I was put in an interrogation room and the detective gave me a form to initial and sign, and when I got to the good old : “Anything you say can be used against you…”  I told him I would seek counsel and get back to them with a statement. They were polite and fine with that, but the sooner the better. They said they needed to process my truck and would let me know when I could pick it up, and my gun would be evidence until the case was closed, but I would get it back. With that, I was free to go. My wife and kids picked me up at the police station, there’s a family moment they’ll probably always remember!

Some Back Story

So, long story short: The gunman, 22 years old, no prior record, was an undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who saw demons and spirits. As he drove by the graveyard and saw two people, he thought they were demons. Supposedly the family was going to have him committed later that week, but still thought it okay that he drive around town with a gun. In the state I live in, we have the red flag laws, that were created for this situation, but yet the family did nothing. The gunman had a 50 round drum fed mag, he shot about 25 rounds total in this incident, so had another 25 left. I asked if his gun had jammed since he didn’t take any more shots after I engaged him. They said it was still fully functional with a round in the chamber–no jam. I was shooting a Glock 23, .40 caliber loaded with 180-grain Winchester Ranger T-series. My first shot went down his back as he was leaning over the victim, shots two and three missed, but then shot four hit him in his right temple, no exit, causing instant death.

I got my truck back the next day, and the police were very polite and cooperative. The police wrapped up the investigation stating the only one that committed any crimes that they could see was the deceased gunman. The police captain told me it is up to the county prosecutor now, and to wait for a decision. About two weeks later I received a very nice letter from the prosecutor thanking me for what I did, and saving a life, and potentially many others that day.

I am morally fine with what happened, knowing I saved a man that got to go home to his wife and two kids that night. I am glad I was able to act quickly enough to make that difference. It took about four days for it to stop replaying in my head over and over, having some anxiety, and not being able to focus on tasks.

Lessons Learned

The main lessons I want to pass on from this:

  1. Carry all the time, this was 1pm on a Tuesday, in the middle of the road.
  2. If you see a shooting in front of you, drive away! There were at least seven cars in the immediate area, not one person drove away as the shooting happened and he chased after another victim. Instead several got out of their cars and onto their phones.
  3. Do not render aid until the threat has been eliminated. There were three cars near the first victim that the gunman walked/ran right by. He was focused on just these two “demons”, and I believe he may have gotten back in his car and left after killing them both, and not target any witnesses, but you never know.
  4. Train well. I have been shooting since I was six years old, I’m now in my forties I have a range in my back yard and have taken one defensive pistol class. But I still got tunnel vision on the target and not my sights when the fear kicked in — as I became the target.
  5. Never think that just one shot will end it.
  6. If you are a good enough shot and have the time to be well-aimed, go for the head, to begin with. That is the only shot that is an instant fight stopper.

Stay Safe, – R.


  1. I hope you know you are a hero, you may not think so but you did save one or more lives that day and because you got involved, not just a phone video, my hat is off to you.

  2. Well done Sir, glad your OK. I agree you never know when you’ll have to face evil . I carry and have since around 1985. I hope to God I never have to use a firearm in defense. The fact is the police are not there to protect us and our family. We must take that responsibility.

  3. I was a bouncer, we had this guy that had to much to drink, and when he ordered another beer I brought him a cup of coffee instead. He ask why he didn’t get a beer and I told him I thought he had had enough. He smiled and said well then I’ll just go home then. I asked him I I could call him a cab, on the house, he told me no that he was ok to drive, and that he only lived a couple of blocks away. I walked him out to his car, an we were just talking about whatever. He unlocked it looked me in the eye and said thanks for being so nice. I told him to drive carefully and he replied no problem. I said good night, and that we would see him next time, I turned to go back inside, and got about 4 steps when it happened. I felt like a truck hit me from behind. I had been shot by a 357 snub nose about 6 inches to the left of my spine. The next thing I remember was hearing people is he dead, he’s dead, that was when I started coughing. Needless to say I’m not dead. But I learned a big lesson that night. NEVER turn your back on someone you have that kind of interaction with. You never know where their head is at. Turns out he had just lost his job, and his wife left him that day. That was 15 yrs ago, and he is coming up for parole this year.

  4. I wonder if things would have gotten cleared up in such an efficient way now. It seems that every idiot with a smart phone is looking to convict someone for something. I’m Glad it worked out for you. Sadly it didnt for a Nebraska bar owner, and Mr. Rittenhouse is fighting for his right to defend his life. Innocent people are getting swallowed up in the legal system for protecting their lives.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story and I am happy it turned out well for you. There were several important facts in your story but the most important was that you were trained to use your weapon. In my opinion, the second most dangerous thing to the criminal, is an armed citizen with no training. Sadly there are millions who are “armed” but not knowing how to react like you did. In some cases, this can be more dangerous that the initial threat.

    1. I was thinking exactly the same thing you commented on. This hero spent money on ammo and trained at the range over who knows how long in order to be the right guy at the right place with the right skills. That’s the way to do it.

  6. You are one in a million! I am so grateful for you and your actions to save a stranger; you have renewed my faith in people. Your family and neighbors are blessed to have you in their lives. Please accept the gratitude of the rest of us for being the person you are. Wish you lived in my neighborhood.

  7. The writer is not a gun owner. He is a gunman. There is a huge difference! He goes armed everywhere, trains, practices, he lives it. A gun owner is….well, someone who owns guns. He correctly analyzed the situation before engaging. He used available objects for support and cover. He assumed nothing after the target was down. Interaction with LE was very good. Bystanders hit, zero!
    The incident will never be on CNN!
    And perhaps the best factor in this outcome, he didn’t live in a socialist paradise.
    Good show!

  8. I have a minor quibble with the story:
    * I think the word ‘gunman’ was invented by marxists.

    I handle and carry firearms daily; I think about firearms as the equivalent of my religion.
    I am a ‘gunperson’, the author of this article is a ‘gunperson’.
    The whack-job chasing people around a graveyard then executing them in the street was not a ‘gunman’, he was a ‘murderer’.

    I think the word ‘gunman’ introduces a negative value on any ‘undesirable’ situation:
    * “Authorities today announced a lone white gunman dressed in camouflage clothes with a ‘flag’ lapel-button was shot by off-duty LawEnforcementOfficials before his violent protest could continue…”
    * “Authorities announced another lone white gunman, waving a flag and screaming obscenities against paying his fair share…”
    * “Authorities announced a third lone white gunman, lying in-wait behind a Dumpster©…”
    * “The courts today ruled against the lone white gunmen, ordering authorities to place them in a lunatic asylum…”
    * “In other news from the blockade by heavily-armed anti-government lone white gunmen at the Bundy Ranch…”

    Next up for your viewing pleasure:
    * “Witnesses describe the lone white gunmen as having ‘poor personal hygiene’ and ‘badly in need of extensive dental work’…”
    * “Officials describe the three lone white gunmen as ‘non-compliant’ before pulling an easily-concealable automatic pistol designed for a foreign military to mow down hundreds…”


    I use the word ‘religion’ because I feel this strongly about my spiritual connections with my firearms, my knives, my mechanic and construction tools.
    I am also the caregiver to an ancient samurai sword I received as a gift in the 1950s.
    Fortunately, in these united states of America, my religion is constitutionally-protected.

    And if my religion isn’t constitutionally-protected, I am ‘protected’ by the Americans With Disabilities Act ‘laws’ from anybody questioning my ‘affliction’ about my firearms.

    If I wanted, I could use their ‘laws’ to protect my riots… because the word ‘gunman’ is discriminatory under the Civil Riots Act of 1964.

    Did I unintentionally write ‘riots’ instead of ‘rights’?
    Sorry, not sorry.
    It must by the Hoppes Number Nine I use as a conditioner after I shampoo.


    I think the word ‘gunman’ is a make-work fabrication the marxist propagandists use to rationalize destruction of freedom and liberty and justice for all.
    And I think ‘gunman’, the constant continual repetition of ‘gunman’, loads a bias into potential jurors.

    I welcome your rebuttal.

    1. It’s a word used in the correct context. It doesn’t make other descriptive words invalid. The article is well written and the emotional descriptive words possibly brought on by the shooting are left out for reasons.
      Gunman has been used for years to describe shooters like Bart Skelton and Elmer Keith and there was certainly no marxist context to that at all. In fact until “triggered” folks came along, constantly voicing loud and/or long wrong opinions about the smallest of insignificant things in full paragraph meltdowns, it was a title sought after.

    2. No rebuttal from me Marge as you are absolutely right. The marxist media is anti-gun, anti 2A, hence the built – in bias you discuss.
      Words that -should- be used, include killer, psychopath, criminal.
      Using ‘gunman’ is cultural marxism.

    3. You seem to be well versed in the term “gunman” but constant rambling criticism is not very productive. Please don’t take offense as I am a gun owner and do agree with you but as I read tour comments I kept waiting for suggestions to use to replace the term “gunman”. Attacker, combatant, what else?

  9. OP you are lucky that where you live the DA was not one of the anti-gun liberals and did not charge you with any crime. Here where I live and I hate to say this, but I would have not gotten involved unless the shooter came after me or my family. We have a DA that is a Soros lackey and would prosecute someone for defending their life or someone else’s. Here we do have the Castle Doctrine law, but some of these liberal DA’s ignore the state law just to make a name for themselves. Good for you for what you done and glad it worked out for you.

    1. Randy, Your DA sounds familiar. Most likely the Democrat DA candidate for the big city in our vicinity will win in November. He has been monied up by Soros. Unfortunately, family members live there, so some trips will be necessary. We have the Castle Doctrine as well, but with a probable DA like that, who knows what will happen in a self-defense situation?

  10. It is interesting that many, if not most, police departments do not recommend head shots to stop a threat. It is a bad optic. There are exceptions, however.

    That is one reason (and justification?) that LEO’s fire multiple torso shots in self defense situations. Criminals that are high on drugs or just plain adrenalin can pack a lot of lead.

  11. I have a concealed carry permit but rarely carry a gun. My wife just applied for hers. I told her that IF she uses the gun in self defense that the police will arrest her, the DA will charge and bring her to trial and that it will cost us our house and everything we own to get a lawyer and in the end she will most likely still do hard time in jail. That is all pure fact .

    1. OneGuy, why do you even bother to have a gun with that attitude, sounds to me like your telling your wife to just go ahead and get assaulted. With that mind set implanted in your wife’s mind, she would be better off without a gun, which would then only be used against her. Trekker Out

      1. No, that is fact. It is true in my state and all states. IF you shoot someone in self defense you will need a lawyer and IF the DA takes it to court it will cost $100’s of thousands AND you will probably still go to jail. AND that is just the beginning because the person you shot, if they live, and their family will sue you and take what is left. If you do not know this than you are simply uninformed.

        1. One guy- I have to say you may be correct about your ridiculous state regarding a self defense shooting, but here in WI that is totally not true. There have been many self defense shootings and when the DA clears it as self defense the person does not face any further leagal action or incur any costs. And I know of many more justified shootings in other states where the person justifiably defends themselves or another and no problems. Why you would live where you are and even have firearms is beyond me.

          1. I do not doubt for a second that “some” self defense shootings do not result in criminal charges. BUT, are you saying that ALL self defense shootings do not result in criminal charges??? THAT is the point. For many people in this country a self defense shooting ends with jail time and $100’s of thousands of dollars loss. THAT is undeniable. You can cite the exceptions but that does not change the facts.

            EVEN pulling your gun to dissuade an attacker can get you jail time and lawyer costs. Even lifting your shirt to show them that you have a gun can get you into legal trouble. If you do not know that then YOU are in for a rude awakening when and if it happens to you.

        2. There are several companies out there ( I use U.S. Law Shield) who will defend you for no charge if you pay them a reasonable yearly fee. That will give you some peace of mind. And yes, they also defend you in civil court. All you have to do is remember one thing after you fire your weapon in self defense, do not give the police any information other than your name and address, period! In the meantime you should have already called their toll free number so their attorney can be in route.

    2. Your wife is going to be angry when she takes the concealed carry class and learns the truth. The concealed carry class has a module just on the state and local legalities of when deadly force is authorized. The legal module is reinforced on the written test. The concealed carry class also has a number of scenarios that drill into the students the situations in which deadly force is authorized and when they should just be a good witness. Finally, in your state, your home might be protected in civil seizures. but nevertheless, the concealed carry insurance is exactly for the scenario where a CCW loses a civil suit.

      1. 100% agree, get a CCW but always get insurance as well. I have my CCW and my wife is working on getting hers. This story kicked me in the pants to get insurance – USCCA is awesome. I even live in a very pro gun state but it’s not worth the chances these days to bet on luck when it comes to crazy times. Be smart be prepared keep a clear head.

    3. One Guy, I would seriously think about getting some carry coverage from the USCCA. That should protect you in a self defense situation — at least you have an attorney to cover your back and keep you from going bankrupt in defending yourself.

  12. Thank you for your bravery and strength to save those lives. I envy your self-control and skill. I don’t think I would be able to accomplish what you did but I believe I would try. We all must try to save others if morally and legally possible. The Soros backed DA’s are a whole group of the devil’s disciples.

    Just a brief comment on LargeMarge’s great comments. An attorney who specializes in defending Second Amendment Cases once said you should never use the word gun because if your statement using that word is used in a court in a case like the above (obviously he correctly was not charged) it could be said that the word gun suggests an offensive use as opposed to defensive. Always say weapon as it is less offensive. That is really splitting hairs. Nothing is ever simple or easy is it.

  13. Outstanding.

    Countless people boast about what they would do in a gunfight/active shooter incident, but precious few would react as well as you did. Those of us who have been there know that there is nothing cool or glamorous about it, as Hollywood would have you believe. It is seared into our memories forever.

    I thank you for accepting this burden, and choosing the right path, not the easy path.

  14. Thats a situation I hope none of us are in. That said, prepare for it. Our country is getting dicey and people are becoming more and more unglued/unstable/crazy.

  15. This is a situation I am familiar with reading about in our local newspaper.

    R is a true hero. He saved a life of an innocent man. Thankfully he had trained ahead of time and his aim was true even during the “adrenaline dump” I’m sure he felt during the event.

    I also want to point out one other thing. Without disclosing the state (to respect his confidentiality), I can say that it has laws that are generally very supportive of law abiding gun owners. One state away, the exact opposite is true…some of the nation’s most hostile laws towards firearms can be found there. My point…location matters…choose where you live based on personal freedom, respect of God and the Conatitution, avoidance of large leftist cities, etc.

    1. @ Dan

      But state laws re: guns are constantly changing. My state(VT) had great gun laws til just a few years ago. Do we all just have to pick up and move somewhere else? And if we do, how do we know that the same thing won’t happen there?

      1. Hi Ani,
        That seems to be the big debate – should someone abandon their home state due to the draconian and communist laws? Or should one stay and fight? It’s up to each individual/family to make that decision.

  16. But – did you get your gun back?
    This is what I think about. If I’m the ‘good guy’ in a situation, am armed, and take care of business, the cops usually want to take your weapon. I do NOT want that to happen, as people (the good guys) don’t often get it back.
    But I don’t know how to stop that from happening.

    1. Les you can’t because of evidence but you can have a plan for whoever picks you up from questioning to bring you another.
      A support chain goes a long ways. It’s not just preparing for the zombie apocalypse it’s about preparing for daily events.
      Also don’t live in a place that doesn’t give your firearm back.

      1. When a police officer is involved in a shooting, at least here, that is the procedure. His gun is taken as evidence then he is provided another. An officer is tasked with being with him during the aftermath and hospital visit. After such an event it is necessary to have a companion because everyone reacts differently. Many people are overcome with grief and the outcome can be bad. Therefore the partner for a while.

  17. You mention you were on the outskirts of your downtown area at 1PM. That would seem to indicate a rather crowded area.

    Thankfully it worked out well, It could have just as easily become a nightmare for you. Had one of your bullets missed the target and hit an innocent bystander, penetrated the perp, and did the same, you would likely be facing manslaughter charges.

  18. Hero, I am not sure exactly what that means. But I can tell you that you did what needed to be do and did not just walk away. You saved a man’s life, his wife, family and future generations. I was in a similar situation at a gas station. More than 20 years ago. The man I shot survived but died in Prison. I think of him and see his face almost every day. I just wish there was another way. Sleep in peace knowing you did right and people Love you for it. Peace be with You.

  19. I believe the writer, R, did everything as well as could be expected. He kept his cool even though he didn’t realize it at the time. That’s the thing you cannot practice…reaction to a true event while it is unfolding.
    All current and former Law Enforcement Officers can remember the first time they were informed of the 21 ft rule. Can’t happen! But it can and has many times.
    Years ago I tried to convince several Prosecutors to take official LE training but they refused. They did dive into the county law enforcement training money though to fund “lawyer conferences” which lasted several days at expensive vacation spots.
    A couple Prosecutors would not even discuss a case involving a complaint against an Officer, no matter how trivial. A Special Prosecutor would be appointed by that Prosecutor to investigate. Sometimes it took one or two years to complete.
    The last Prosecutor I was associated with was not expected to win again, and was to appear before a Grand Jury. He was killed in a one car accident before that could happen.
    That man would have prosecuted R. I am sure of it.
    So it comes down to being elected in most cases.
    VOTE them out. It’s our only chance to survive. If President Trump is not elected for a second term, we are done. Stop quibbling about what to call what.
    If you think you cannot VOTE for President Trump because he’s not perfect then look at our streets. Is that what you want from now on?

  20. Thank you for sharing.
    May the Lord give you rest, peace, and prosper you.
    You are a true hero and I, for one, am grateful that people like you exist and are willing to sacrifice for others.

  21. I took a CLE class from the attorney that represented you not to long ago and he actually spent about 20 minutes going over your case when talking about legally justified use of force here in our state.

    Thank you for posting this so we can learn from your first hand experience.


    Jim k.

  22. R, thank you for sharing your story. You are indeed a hero: Someone who knows when violence is unavoidable, puts themselves at risk to save others, and limits the violence to the extent necessary to deal with the threat. Thank you on behalf of all those who don’t have a gun and wouldn’t be able to use one safely. I carried for years, but I have a neurologic problem now and it’s not safe for me to carry. I firmly believe people like me are still around because people like you step up.

  23. I’m glad you saved a life. I’ve thought many times about such situations and what I would do. I have to say candidly that I would NOT shoot — I’m TERRIFIED of the idea of making a mistake and shooting the wrong person. The ONLY way around that is to shoot only someone who is shooting at me or my friends or family — I assume in that situation that I would have full awareness of what’s going on. I’m not trying to tell others what to do, I’m just giving my personal view. Now, the exception would be if the apparent victim was a CHILD. In that case I would essentially KNOW that the one shooting was the bad guy. Best of luck to you.

  24. R,

    You did something that is not part of “ordinary” living in today’s world. I won’t say “Good job” or refer to you as a “hero”. Others have already done that.

    I am going to presume that this incident only recently happened.

    In your write-up you stated: “It took about four days for it to stop replaying in my head over and over, having some anxiety, and not being able to focus on tasks.” I’m going to gently question that statement.

    You see, I was also forced to shoot a man in self defense and in defense of another person. In my case the felon shot at me 6 times… thank God for alcohol because he had been drinking liberally beforehand. He missed. I fired twice at center mass. Taurus .357. Hit him twice from my retreat position about 75 feet away. To make a long story very brief, he recovered after losing his right lung and spent 8.5 years in the state prison. He’s out on parole now.

    Here’s the deal. It took me 1.5 YEARS to stop replaying that scene and I strongly suspect you are still replaying your own scene a lot. Maybe not every day but a lot. The shrinks call it PTSD. Everyone knows what that is but not everyone knows that that moniker was slapped on the psychological behavior by one doctor. The name stuck but I didn’t like that the “D” stands for “disorder”. I didn’t have, nor do I have now, a “disorder”. So I renamed the condition PITA. You may think that PITA stands for “Pain In The A**” but not in this case. PITA = Post Incident Trauma Adaptation.

    When a person has a severe traumatic experience, the brain has to process what happened and it does its best to “adapt” to a new and highly unusual experience. It’s a way of protecting us from similar situations in the future should they ever happen. But it’s intense because it’s life & death and very personal.

    In my opinion, what the brain does is perfectly normal. It’s NOT a disorder. All the classic “symptoms” are nothing more than a set of warnings to the conscious self to be aware that non-ordinary events are possible. Yeah, I’m sure it goes deeper than that and I could debate this for hours.

    But here’s the ticket that lifted me out of that PITA. I had to consciously tell myself… to tell that part of my brain… sometimes out loud and always like a loving parent… “Thank you for reminding me of that incident. Thank you for having my back and trying to protect me. You don’t have to continue doing this for me. I appreciate the constant reminder but I’ve learned the lessons. I’ll let you know if I need your help in the future OK? Good job, now go to sleep.”

    You are now a part of a rare group of people. You have a different insight into the world and I dare say… I do understand. In some sense, you are privileged to have knowledge that could only be gained through experience and your understanding of the world has been altered.

    Whether you read this or not, whether this diatribe was a stupid assumption on my part or not, whether this was helpful to you or others … or not… doesn’t matter to me. I had to write to express that I care. We do what needs to be done. Be well.

    I’ll close this drivel with the advice I received from the detective that investigated my case. He told me that it was a clean shoot, told me a little about the mental after-effects and most importantly… “Don’t play the ‘what-if’ game.”


    1. Thank you JB. This was helpful to me. I agree that it is helpful to gently tell Lizard Brain to stand down from Red Alert, with a “thank you.” And we can call it whatever, but I say: PTSD is indeed a Pain In The….! I’m glad your detective was understanding, and told you those things. ‘What-if’ can sometimes be just as much of a mind-killer as fear.

  25. I am sorry you had to go through that, but there is a family that is very happy you did. Great job being trained and being able to function in a life or death situation.
    One thing we forget is the trauma this can cause in the shooters life.
    If this ever bothers your conscience or effects you negatively, remember that you did not create the situation and a person was able to go home because of your actions. Get help if you need it. Only a fool doesn’t realize when it is time for help.
    God bless you.

  26. Thank you, R! …for sharing your story, for teaching us and providing important lessons and reminders, and most of all for having the courage to engage the situation before you, and in so doing, for having saved the life of a person who really had no hope of survival otherwise. We do not get to choose the circumstances under which we will be called forward, but we do get to choose the courage of our convictions and our consciences. The actions you took on this day are a testimony to yours. Every person who has ever been spared because of the heroic actions of another thanks you.

  27. You’re welcome Bear. And THANK YOU for letting me know that helped. And you’re 100% correct when you say that “what-if” can be a mind killer.

    Alfred Hitchcock made his fortune using “what-if” scenarios. So when it’s in real life, that ol’ Lizard Brain can really do you in. Don’t let it.

    Looking forward, I suspect deadly force personal defense situations will unfortunately become more common so here’s something for everyone to remember. CAPS

    CALL 911 immediately… first one to call, wins.

    ASSIST the person you shot… do your best to save their life… CPR … first aid is vital.

    PUT your weapon away. LEO’s don’t know who the bad guy is when they show up and it’s best to inform them like R did.

    SECURE the scene as best you can. Delegate responsibility to a “friendly” and don’t let anyone touch anything.

    And when the investigators ask you: “Did you mean to kill Mr. Badguy?” the correct response is “I was in fear for my life (or someone else’s life) and I ONLY wanted to stop the threat.”

    A “no” answer will be followed up with “Well then why did you shoot?”
    A “yes” answer is obviously damning just on the face of it.

    Many blessings.


  28. Two quick comments:

    PTSD is now considered PTSI – PTS Injury – meaning something that you can recover from. It may take some time to heal, but heal you will.

    CPR on a gun shot victim – please don’t. Instead stop the bleeding. As a 26 year career large city medic with countless GSW’s, I have never experienced or heard of a GSW victim surviving with CPR. Stop the bleeding, get to the ER for rapid blood transfusion and the OR to stop the internal bleeding.

    I apologize for the late comment (days later)… been busy at work. This was a great read and great comments. Lots of people here that I wish were my neighbors.

Comments are closed.