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23 September 2015, Cleveland, Ohio
According to multiple news outlets, an alcohol- and anger-fueled home invasion took place at an apartment in Cleveland and stopped only after a Good Guy With A Gun shot and killed the assailant.
Police reports state that Cedric Grier, 28, broke down the door to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and began trashing the place while his ex and her male companion were home. Then he got violent.
While a Good Guy there had a Gun, he was either unable or unwilling to use it, even while Grier was choking his girlfriend into unconsciousness, until Grier turned his attention onto him. Whereupon he shot him in the chest.
Paramedics pronounced Grier dead at the scene.
Today’s lesson? Mental preparedness
Our Good Guy With A Gun, per the reports, HAD a gun or had immediate access to one. Yet, he waited until their assailant charged him directly; AFTER the assailant used force to enter the apartment, AFTER he trashed the apartment, and AFTER he had already used force against another lawful occupant of the apartment.
Now, why would our hero have waited SO LONG before defending himself and the woman in the apartment? Aside from the female asking him not to do so, perhaps he was operating under a misunderstanding of law? Until 2008, Ohio law required you to retreat before using force to defend yourself.
Another likely cause is denial. Most Americans are so insulated from the realities of life that, when violence enters their lives, they are literally unable to believe what is happening to them. This is a big factor in what is known as “freeze”. It is one of three instinctive responses which come standard on all humans: Fight (the threat), Flight (from the threat), or Freeze (hoping the threat won’t see you). All three behaviors have been saving humanity’s collective bacon for millennia and nature has not yet seen fit to change it.
Accept your reality. Bad things are happening and they are happening NOW. You need to make a decision as to your response: Fight or run? In a second floor apartment, your run options are limited and, frankly, are you going to leave your friend there on the floor, unconscious, subject to whatever whim next strikes your assailants fancy?
If these people had accepted their reality when it began (when their assailant started kicking down the door) they would have had time to implement a response plan before he made entry. Perhaps something like this:
1. Escape out a window and call the police from a safe location. If not, proceed to step two.
2. If time permits, retreat to a defensible point in the house, like a bedroom with a lockable door or a way to barricade the door. This gives you a time and distance separation from your attacker. Now would be a great time to call the police if you have not already done so. Prepare to defend yourself.
3. STAY BEHIND YOUR LOCKED/BARRICADED DOOR, if possible. Do not go out and investigate the lack of noise or to talk to a seemingly-calm assailant. Allow the police to handle him when they finally arrive. Arrests are their job. Yours is simple survival.
4. Commit to defending yourself. You don't HAVE to shoot them and the police will arrive, eventually. Until then, you are on your own. Mental commitment shows through in your body language and the fact that you appear ready to use force has been noted to have a deterrent factor in some violent encounters and it will help ensure that you are ready to respond.
5. If all goes well, your assailant will lose interest and leave or the police will arrive. But until then, You Are Your Own First Responder, act like it.