The discussion of shooting someone in your home without warning or identification has reared its ugly head again. “I’ll shoot anyone in my home” is probably the second most foolish and ill-considered dogma among gun owners today; “It’s not loaded” being the first.
During the Sack of Béziers in 1209 AD, the Abbot of Citeaux, Arnaud Amalric, head of the Crusaders, is reputed to have said: “Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are His own [Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius].” Although it is disputed whether the Abbot actually said this, it is the source of the quip, “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” If you consider it for just a few seconds, “I’ll kill anyone in my house” is philosophically not very far from this. Hopefully, we’ve gotten a little smarter and humane over the course of nine Centuries.
Children sneak in and out of the house, spouses get up to go to the bathroom, friends try to surprise you, and people who are mentally challenged, either permanently or temporarily by intoxicants, enter into homes without malicious intent.
I now have close to a hundred Negative Outcome mistaken identity shootings in my database in which someone shot their spouse or child. Those people will never get another good night’s sleep as long as they live. For the ones where the shootee survived, I doubt the relationship will ever be the same. For those who think they’ll check to make sure all their family members are in bed first, that doesn’t always work, either.
And shooting some poor old geezer who has Alzheimer’s isn’t any better, just because he’s not a member of your family. In that particular case, there was no prosecution but the Cost of Killing was still enormous.
On average, my research indicates that someone mistakenly shoots their spouse, child, or other innocent person in their home every single week in the United States. Two words, “Who’s there?” and a flashlight would go a long way to prevent these tragedies. “Challenging will give my position away,” “The flashlight draws fire,” “blah-blah-blah;” that’s all foolishness parroted by people who have no understanding of METT-TC. Mission, Enemy, Terrain and weather, Troops and support available, Time available, and Civil considerations.
Veterans who should have learned about METT-TC, but didn’t, annoy me greatly when they prattle this kind of foolishness. To be fair, I really didn’t understand it until I was a Staff Sergeant and even then only vaguely. This is another reason not to listen to opinions from people whose only real claim to fame is that they qualified Expert with some weapon in the military. Someone’s ability to Qualify with a rifle has ZERO to do with their understanding of any tactics at all, much less tactics about highly ambiguous situations. A better criterion than Qualification would be “How many Operations Orders have you written?” If the answer is Less than ten or especially None, then the person’s ability to plan any operation is questionable.
The odds that the bump in the night are an intruder are low. I’ve calculated them at three percent but I can accept other numbers. More likely, it’s an innocent party. How many of us have investigated a bump in the night as compared to how many of us have then found someone who needed shooting? The stakes are very high, the life of a loved one or innocent party. Some localities are now prosecuting Mistaken Identity shootings as Manslaughter or Second Degree Murder. Even when there are no legal consequences, the psychological toll will most likely be for a lifetime.
The Flashlight chapter of Indoor Range Practice Sessions is a FREE download. https://store.payloadz.com/details/2505573-ebooks-law-indoor-range-session-11-flashlight.html Please get it, practice using your light, learn to speak while holding your gun, and think about identifying people before shooting at them.
You could even buy the whole book, if you want to learn something about shooting. https://store.payloadz.com/details/2501143-ebooks-education-indoor-range-practice-sessions.html
Complacency Kills. It can happen to any of us.
It’s useful to track a Negative Outcome incident from start to finish. In this case, the Negative Outcome was an Unjustifiable Shooting.
A quick summary of the events is:
- Two individuals were on a Michigan man’s property, early in the morning.
- Most likely their intent was to steal. They were on a ‘crime spree.’
- The man heard them and came out on his porch with a .22 semi-automatic rifle.
- He challenged them.
- At least one of them began to run away.
- He shot both of them and killed them.
- An investigation followed.
- Months later, he was arrested and charged with two counts of second degree murder.
- More than two years later, he was convicted and sentenced to a long prison term.
Yesterday, this article showed up in the search that I continually have running for personal protection incidents and I shared it on Facebook.
Prosecutor: 13 bullet holes showed self-defense for man cleared of murder charge https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/counties/dewitt/prosecutor-bullet-holes-showed-self-defense-for-man-cleared-of/article_def55934-d637-11e8-9546-637075a1ed02.html
When I share things, I often quote what I consider an important point of the story. For this incident, I thought this was important.
The number of bullets fired by Martinez  stood in stark contrast to the single, fatal shot from Kirkman’s antique, bolt-action .22-caliber rifle.
Someone immediately took me to task about the .22 caliber aspect. Apparently, they thought I was advocating carrying a single shot .22 rifle for personal protection. I don’t recall saying that, I merely used the quote as an illustration of the difference between being a spray and pray artist vis-à-vis aiming and getting a good hit. Perhaps that wasn’t clear from the quote.
An unedited version of the Dumbster Fire video, entitled Two Fat Hillbillies Kill [Man whose mouth writes checks that his ass can’t cash] Over Garbage, is available on LiveLeak.
Note that the LiveLeak video is raw footage and contains language that some may find offensive. While the first minute and a half is woofing and Monkey Dancing, after that it starts getting very serious.
Deploying and Preparing for Combat
About 1:30 into the LiveLeak video, the son Deploys into a position where he can use his weapon. He still has his weapon across his shoulders. The Father and Son have at that point achieved a Position of Advantage because they can both use their weapons from where they are at but Orange Shirt can only get one of them before the other gets him. Prior to deploying to his right, the Son’s position wasn’t good because he is right handed and his Father was obliquely to his right. While this positioning isn’t exactly an L-shaped Field of Fire, it’s reasonably close considering the terrain. Being in the beaten zone of an L-shaped Field of Fire is not where you want to be when the loud noises start.
Approximately 30 seconds later (2:07), the Son takes the weapon off his shoulder and assumes a ready position with it. He is now Prepared for Combat. He has achieved a Position of Advantage and has his weapon in a position to use it quickly. Preparation for Combat doesn’t have to involve readying a weapon. The POlice often encounter criminals who take their shirts off at some point in an interview or confrontation. By doing so, the criminal has removed something that an Officer could use to restrain him or gain an Advantage. This is another example of Preparation for Combat.
When one side Deploys and Prepares for Combat, that means the situation is going to go bad VERY SHORTLY. If you have any way to withdraw at that point, you need to take it immediately because the action WILL begin within a matter of seconds, as we can see from the timeline of the incident.
- 1:30 – Son Deploys to Position of Advantage.
- 2:07 – Son brings his weapon to Ready. Preparation for Combat complete.
- 2:10 – Father fires first pistol shots.
Using weapons adequately
At 2:10, the first pistol shots are fired by the Father. At 2:13, two things happen simultaneously; the Father bends to his left, leaving a clear shot for the Son. The Son chambers a round, brings his weapon into his eye-target line and fires two rounds. The smoothness, rapidity of movement, and effectiveness of his fire leave little doubt that he had practiced this before.
The Son’s weapon was a Shockwave, a weapon that fires shotgun shells but because of a clever design, is not categorized by the BATF as a ‘Short Barreled [i.e., sawed off] Shotgun.’ The Shockwave, its Remington counterpart, and pistol gripped shotguns are almost universally ridiculed among the ‘cognoscenti’ of the firearms community. However, Orange Shirt is now in no position to either agree or disagree with that Point Of View because he took a devastating hit in the head from it.
His son fired with a shotgun [sic] and I guess it was a scattershot because it took his eye, the top of his head, his ear
Say what you will about the Shockwave but the Son understood the importance of getting his weapon into the eye-target line to use it effectively. He must have worked with the gun to the point where he was competent with it.
Don’t be deceived by appearances, just because someone looks like a goof doesn’t mean he can’t kill you with gear he is capable of using well. As my colleague Tamara Keel commented:
This is, however, tangentially related to the maxim that just because you’re carrying a Roland Special, [a high end pistol tuned for fighting] it don’t mean the bullets from a Hi-Point .380 are gonna bounce off you. A dumb [person] can kill you with crap gear adequately wielded.
The cost of killing
Regardless of the legal proceedings and outcome, the Father and Son will have a tough row to hoe for a long time. They’ve both been charged with murder, there is damning video evidence of the incident, and whether they win or lose in court, they’ll most likely be broke for the rest of their lives. The Cost of a Killing is always high, whether it is righteous or not.
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Pride and ego caused the whole mess. Recognize the pitfalls they can lead to ahead of time and stay out of trouble.
I’ve written two different eBooks for those who are interested in improving their skill with handguns. They provide a roadmap to improving your competency at your own pace and within the resources you have available to you. For less than the price of a box of ammo, you’ll be able to use your time and other resources much more effectively.
For those who carry a concealed firearm, Concealed Carry Skills and Drills, is appropriate for you. The link to the downloadable eBook is here. http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com
For those who don’t carry a concealed firearm but keep a handgun for home defense, Indoor Range Practice Sessions, is appropriate for you. The link to the downloadable eBook is here. http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com
My downloadable recording, Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make, http://seriousgunownermistakes.com is particularly appropriate when analyzing this incident.
Previous posts about the Duel at the Dumpster
Serious Mistakes – Unjustified Killings
Lessons from the Duel at the Dumpster (Part I)
Lessons from the Duel at the Dumpster (Part II)
There are even more lessons we can take away from the Duel at the Dumpster, which we probably could also call the Dumbster Fire. Perhaps the most important lesson of them all relates to the human dynamics of confrontations.
You’re always on video
We have to assume we’re always going to be on video. This is especially true when there are other parties nearby, whether they’re Seconds or just bystanders.
Here is a reasonably good transcript of the first minute of the confrontation.
The dictionary defines ‘duel’ as a contest with deadly weapons arranged between two people in order to settle a point of honor. While the Abilene confrontation wasn’t pre-arranged, it certainly turned into a duel. The ‘Monkey Dance’ is a more commonly used term nowadays but the degree of outward emotion is the only difference between the two terms.
The Duel at the Dumpster in Abilene https://ktxs.com/news/local/caught-on-camera-abilene-father-son-kill-neighbor-over-trash can provide us with a number of lessons. Some of them relate to avoidance but other aspects of personal protection can also be learned.
- Murder definitions
- Emotional Hijacking
- Dealing with the mentally ill
- The role of Seconds or Partners
- Options – especially withdrawal
- Stand Your Ground (or not)
- Preparation and Deployment for Combat
- Using weapons adequately
- The cost of killing
- You’re always on video
It’s rare that we have video that shows most of an incident that covers from almost the beginning to the very end. Looking at it closely and objectively can show us some valuable lessons. Although one title for the video is “Two fat rednecks kill Father over Garbage,” we shouldn’t assume that any of us couldn’t get caught up in an equally consequential incident.
Going away for all day; i.e., will probably spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Aaron Howard was shot and killed Sept. 1 in the alley behind his home on Don Juan Street. His two neighbors, Johnnie and Michael Miller, have been charged with the murder.
Howard’s fiancee, Kara Box, shot the deadly dispute on her cell phone and released it to KTXS.
How do you win a gunfight? Don’t be there.
DBAD – Don’t be a wanker
MYOB – Mind your own business
SYP – Swallow your pride
FSYG – Forget stand your ground
–a very smart attorney friend
Just one of the categories of Negative Outcomes.
- Brandishing or showing
- Chasing and shooting
- Downrange failures (the only one on the list that relates to marksmanship)
- Lost/stolen guns
- Mistaken identity shootings
- Negligent discharges
- Self-inflicted GSW
- Unintentional shootings
- Police Involvement – e.g., getting needlessly arrested
- Poor judgement
- Unauthorized access
- Unjustifiable shootings
- Warning shots
Learn to control your emotions and to walk away.
People labor under the illusion that a two year old can’t pull a trigger. What a toddler does is put the gun on the floor, where the kid spends most of its time. Eventually, the gun ends up with the butt down, the muzzle up, both of the kid’s thumbs on the trigger, with the kid pushing down on the trigger as hard as it can. Any toddler weighs more than the trigger pull so it has the mechanical advantage to press the trigger all the way through, even on a double action revolver.
A head shot is almost the inevitable result. That’s why so many of these are fatalities and not just wounded casualties.
“While [Appellant’s] belief may have been real to him, it was not reasonable and therefore the use of force used by [Appellant] was not justified.”
That distinction is lost on many people, to their legal peril. Just because someone thinks they’re in danger of serious bodily injury or death doesn’t mean the court is going to accept that state of mind. State of mind has to be reasonable. “In fear for my life,” a subjective test, has become something of a mantra but in the absence of other objective factors, it may be unreasonable.