Self Defense Shooting on Video

Self Defense Shooting

You may have seen a 71-year-old Florida resident shoot two armed robbers in this self defense shooting video.  But it is not likely you have read anything like my thoughts on what happened.

In the above video, two armed men enter an internet cafe in an obvious robbery attempt.  One man is armed with a bat, while the second is armed with a handgun.

As the felons are trying to move the patrons, one of the customers draws his concealed pistol, closes the gap with one of the subjects and begins firing.  The two criminals, both shot in this encounter, stumble over themselves fleeing from the business.

Robb does a pretty good job of hitting some of the points I was going to make, so please check out his post.  However, I have a few more.

Shot placement matters…

Shooting someone in self defense will cause bleeding, which will lead to incapacitation…eventually.  Both felons were shot:  one in the arm, the other in the hip and butt.  Both subjects might have bled to the point of incapacitation eventually, but not nearly fast enough to stop this fight.

Only when you hit vital organs are you likely to take someone out of the fight quick enough to reduce their ability to harm you and others.

Bring the biggest bang possible…

According to reports, our hero in this incident was carrying a .380 ACP handgun.  I agree that a .380 ACP in the pocket is better than a .50 BMG in the safe.  However, that doesn’t transform the .380 into a legendary manstopper. It just means you have something more effective than a stick.

I don’t care what theory of stopping power you might subscribe to because all of them show the .380 ACP as significantly weaker than other cartridges including the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.  Shot placement is more important than cartridge selection.  All other things being equal though, shooting a felon with a more powerful cartridge in a vital area is more likely to rapidly incapacitate them.

Responding to multiple shootings in my “day job” has shown me that a .380 ACP is very spotty on its ability to penetrate deep enough to hit something that matters.  Other cartridges, including the ones mentioned above, are significantly more reliable.  Probably to most devastating handgun wounds I have come across are from the .357 Magnum.

Even when shot multiple times, the fight isn’t over…

There are a lot of sayings the make this point:  anything worth shooting once is worth shooting twice, for example.   Another is from the movie Zombieland:

In those moments when you’re not sure the undead are really “dead” dead, don’t get all stingy with your bullets.

Good advice when dealing with a walking corpse or with a felon intent on doing you harm.  Unless the first shot you make hits the felon’s brain stem, it is unlikely that it will incapacitate him or her.  That means you need to cause more bleeding to more rapidly induce incapacitation.

In this incident, both subjects were shot, but both were able to rapidly move and make their escape.  They would have just as likely been able to point a gun and rapidly stroke the trigger.  Just because you have shot an armed felon doesn’t mean the fight is over!

One of my favorite gunfighting quotes comes from Evan Marshall.  Someone once asked Marshall how many times they should shoot in a gunfight.  Marshall’s response:

Continue shooting until your sight picture is degraded by a lack of target.  

Well said.

Having enough ammunition is important…

Going hand-in-hand with shooting until the threat is stopped is have enough ammo to get the job done.  A lot of people carry a five-shot revolver or a six-shot pistol and figure that is “good enough.”  In many cases it may be.  But, it would not have been in this incident had either of these subjects decided to stay and fight.

Do you carry an extra magazine or a speed strip of additional ammo?  If not, why not?  Convenience?

Neither subject was incapacitated in this incident, but the hero either ran dry or was about to when the encounter ended.  Had the perps attacked instead of running off, I’m not sure the citizen had enough ammo to continue the battle.  He may have had a second magazine, but the odds are he did not.

I most frequently carry a Glock 19 with a spare magazine or a second gun.  Having a second mag or second gun allows me to stay in the fight should the first gun run dry.  Does that make me paranoid?  I don’t think so.  I just want to make sure I have enough felon repellant to go around.

This ain’t Hollywood…

Does this encounter look anything like a Hollywood movie?  Nope.

Combat, whether military or self defense, is rarely ever accurately portrayed in the movies.  Yet, many of us have watched so many movies that those unrealistic situations have become part of what we think we know.

Realistic training is the key to success.  Spending a week with Massad Ayoob or at Gunsite will really open your eyes to the realities of combat.  Learning “on the job” has a poor success rate.  It is much better to prepare.

Don’t do stupid things…

I once heard Michael Bane say that you can avoid most problems by following this simple mantra:

Don’t do stupid things, in stupid places, with stupid people.

Bane’s absolutely right.  I’ve seen in replay daily in my career as a police officer.  Most people would never need the police if they merely followed Bane’s advice.  And, I think this whole thing could have been avoided had Bane’s rule been followed.

Obviously, had the suspects not done stupid things, they would have avoided being shot.  But, I think the hero in this could have avoided the problem as well.

These internet cafes in Florida are quasi-legal gambling operations that deal mainly in cash.  They operate in the gray areas of the law, which can mean they are located in less-respectable, higher-crime areas and might be a little slower than other business to report suspicious people and activities.  Everyone knows they deal in cash, which would seem to be the preferred booty of the common street thug.

The internet cafe would seem to qualify as a stupid place.  I would argue that gambling, generally, is a stupid activity.  However, it is something you can stay at home and do if you so desired.  Sure, he had a “right” to be there, just as he has a “right” to hang out on a sidewalk in Crip territory wearing Klan a robe.

Or, if you must go out to gamble, there are a number of places to legally do so in Florida.  Sure, they are less convenient, but at least they are above board and not likely to require your use of a firearm.  Problem avoidance is the best method of winning a fight.

About Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, police trainer and really bad joke teller. Check out his other writing in Combat Handguns, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement, on The Firearm Blog and at BlueSheepdog.

  • Skyler

    In any fight there’s a chance you will lose. Joe Lewis lost a few times and he was one of the best fighters in the world. No matter what gun or caliber you carry, the bad guy might have more.

    Bold action often wins. We see this principle in play here. He came at them with aggressiveness and surprise. I think he would have gotten the same result with a .22lr.

    There is a chance that after a surprise that a sufficiently aggressive robber would have won by counter attacking, but there are always uncertainties in life.

    I have no criticisms for this man. He was brave and heroic and acted perfectly for the situation. Who’s to say he wouldn’t have continued to prevail if the robbers fought back?

  • Randall

    Felon repellent! Beautiful!

  • Aaron

    The elderly man’s actions were decisive and aggressive, and in that you can clearly see that he got into the robbers’ OODA loop. They literally went from cocky, arrogant thugs, to panicked, sniveling cowards. It was obvious that his aggressive action caused the robbers to flee, as it appeared that non of his shots hit life-threatening areas. The elderly man appeared to be trained with his firearm, and may very well have thought out scenarios just like this one and what he would do. Being mentally prepared is a critical component to concealed carry. This guy appeared to react out of instinct and preparation. Overall chalk this one up for the good guys. I make these statements based on these observations:

    * He waited until the gun-toting robber turned away from him to retrieve his firearm and aggress the robber’s position.
    * For all but the last shot, he used a two-handed shooting stance. It was an old style (holding the wrist of the shooting hand), but a much better platform then simply one-handed shooting.
    * Just prior to the first shots the firearm robber sensed his approach and turned towards the elderly male, pointing his gun at him. The elderly male fired, displaced to almost kneeling, and continued to to fire.
    * When the robber fled the elderly male continued to aggress his position and continued to fire.
    * The elderly male stopped pursuing the robbers once they made it outside, in what appeared to be a thought-out decision and one that is tactically sound.

    However, Richard’s points are spot on as well. The .380 is a poor choice for human consumption and it did not appear the the elderly shooter had extra ammunition. At the time of the shooting the robbers were separated presenting two moving targets in a room full of innocent bystanders – not an ideal shooting scenario at all.

    As a concealed carry holder you must weigh the potential for success with the consequences of failure. Being outnumbered, with the robbers separated, and in a room full of innocent bystanders, raises the potential for failure to very high. We won, but we also got lucky.

  • Glen

    He does in fact show presence of mind. In addition to the observations above, he even reacted out of his peripheral vision. He advanced past the sheep woman and as he did, he rasied his muzzle, knowing she may get hurt. He controlled his every move. Other than capacity, and secondly, caliber, he did what I figure I would do. I also work in law enforcement, and have seen people dead with .380 slugs in their head. To the body, and it only slows the bad guy down. Unless you get one in the heart, which is not likely in a dynamic, moving gunfight, especially with two bad guys, a more experienced dirtbag potentially could turn back on you. Pops acted in a determined and deliberate manner, and I don’t know that these bad guys could have done much else in this situation, as they expected defenseless prey.

    So, Pops did great, but there is nothing wrong with expanding on what else could factor in. A six plus one .380 is purposed for one, maybe two, adversaries in close quarters. Pops could have thought better of emerging with that weapon in a scene where a higher caliber with a second magazine would have been ideal. Waiting would have allowed those two creeps more time to have sized up who is behaving how, and who is watching… Kudos to Pops. He very well likely did this out of caring about others. He could have waited until the gunman faced him. Maybe he figured that the others were unable or unlikely to do what was needed to defend themselves, or that they would make mistakes which might agitate the creeps. Any which way, he did the absolute best he could do given the sandwich he was served.

  • Dedicated_Dad

    I most often carry a .32 – any one who says it’s not enough gun is welcome to take a mozambique from me at the distance of their choice up to 30′ away, then we can continue the discussion.

    Any takers?

    Didn’t think so.

    Given the numbers of dead at German hands – hands that were holding a .32 – I’m confident it will do what I need so long as *I* do what I need…

    Would I PREFER a .45? Of course! – and as soon as they make a 13-shot package (7-shot and spare 6-shot mag) .45 that will disappear in a front-pants-pocket like my Seecamp, I’ll carry one!

    Until then, I’ll just have to make do…

    My second most common carry is a KT P3AT, and the same applies to it as well.

    As to accuracy, I can chase golf-balls around the yard by “snap-shooting” with either gun, so I’m really not worried about my ability to do what I need to do if I’m ever forced to do it.

    All these “caliber wars” discussions do is lead to folks not carrying at all — they’ve been told “that’s not a real gun” so many times they figure they’re better off unarmed.

    Not me.

    A .32 in the head will do the job just as well as a 20mm, though a lot less messy.

    I’ve ALWAYS got the tools I may need – and I’m one of a few that can say that without real exception.

    Signs can also get stuffed – since nobody will ever know what’s in my pocket, I don’t see a need to worry about what any sign may say….

  • Charlie Foxtrot

    I simply cannot get over the reactions of the people in this place. They act like they’re in a daze, unable to comprehend what’s happening or identify an appropriate response.

    There’s Oversized-Polo-Boy, who’s only thought seems to be to make himself as large and in-the-way as possible. He puts his hands up and wanders aimlessly, turning his back to his armed assailant. Then he feels the need to half-follow the robbers out the door, but stop and hop away when the old man turns to him.

    Then there’s Sheep-Woman, who doesn’t seem to understand that there’s a robbery and a gunfight going on in the space she’s decided to wander into. Yes, that guy you’re getting in the way of and bumping into, he’s engaged in a gunfight right now. You might want to go someplace else.

    The guy at the counter is literally attempting to hide his head like an ostrich. Seriously? Once the shooting starts, Sheep-Woman’s tie-dyed twin wanders out from the counter area, wringing her hands and completely oblivious to the correct behavior appropriate to this situation.

    Everyone else here is acting like they were just walked-in-on by their parents while looking at internet porn. Most of them don’t even move from their chairs, it’s not like anything dicey is going on. My favorite is the woman at the top-middle of the screen who can’t decide if she should sit, stand-up, or swivel around in her chair. So, at the 00:38 mark she just flops over and falls with the chair on top of her. Brilliant!

    There’s only one person in this entire video who has a clue what’s going on: Pops. I don’t know what his background is but here’s what I saw: he assessed the situation, seized the opportunity and initiative, closed with and defeated his enemy with aggression and audacity. These two thugs were cowards seeking to prey on the weak and scared, and they fled for their lives when someone stood up to them with force to back it up.

    There’s only two main mistakes I saw here: caliber choice and shot placement. I carry a .45 or a 9mm loaded with +P hollowpoints and I aim for center of mass; I don’t think these attackers would have been moving so fast had Pops done the same, but he accomplished his mission. Patton said “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

    Moral of the story, though, is that when the sh*t hits the fan, you will find yourselves surrounded by people gripped with fear, inaction, incompetence, or most likely all three. You will only be able to rely on yourself to do the right thing. There’s no 911 to save you, there’s no crying for mommy. Your ass may be in the sling and the only one who’s going to save you is you. Plan for the worst now. When it happens, seize the initiative. Close with and destroy your enemy with as much violence and speed as you can muster. Go home and live your life free from fear or shame.

  • Aaron

    I’ve enjoyed the comments here. It clearly shows that there are sheep, wolves, and “sheepdogs” out there, and the sheepdogs are watching and ready.

    As far as the caliber debate I don’t think anyone would argue that getting struck with a .32 or .380 would be a bad day. However, with all the “sheep” in danger close proximity, a CCW sheepdog must consider if their firearm is going to have the stopping power needed to end the fight quickly. Even if hit with a smaller caliber, the suspect’s could return fire with a room full of “sheep” targets, especially if the sheepdog goes down. The larger caliber handguns have a much greater potential for stopping the fight by incapacitating the wolves.

    This becomes even more critically important in a dynamic shootout like this one, as opposed to a static day at the range. Shot placement is likely not be great because of movement and adrenaline on both sides. In the shootout a shot to the leg with a smaller caliber bullet may not even be noticed by the wolf until adrenaline wears off at the end of the shootout. Whereas, a larger caliber bullet is more likely to cause motor dysfunction by shredding muscle, breaking bone, and through a higher fluid shock wave to the target.