I walked through an ambush, or...


April 8, 2007, 11:14 AM
How to survive incredible stupidity.

A little background. I make no secret that I work for the Arizona Department of Corrections. One of the few bennies we get is a van pool to remote prison locations, which, in this era of $3 a gallon gas, is a HUGE bennie. We all meet at various van pool stops, and return at night. My van pool stop is less than a mile from my house, so I sometimes have the wife drop me off, to keep the family car at home. She can't leave at night, because of the child, so I can ask the van to drop me off at the house, or walk home. Usually there is no big deal about either.
But, just recently, they ripped up the road in front of my community, and traffic can go one way, going towards the van stop only. The detour is a PITA, so I have had them drop me off at the small box in the upper left corner of the picture, marked "van", at which point I walk home, about 300 yards. Whoopee, free exercise.


As I pulled over, I saw two Hispanic "youths", one carrying a plastic bag, dressed in thug fashion, at point A, headed across the road. I decided to wait a few minutes, to give them a little room, before walking down. My coworker and I shot the breeze for a few minutes, and off I went. Now, the blue circles represent the only lights in the area, it was 10:30PM, and pitch black. I could not see anyone, so continued on my way. I was in uniform, carrying my jacket over my left arm, and work duty belt over my left shoulder. That contained my OC and handcuffs. Holstered on my right side was my CZ PO1 with Crimson Trace Lasergrips, and two spare mags left side, a Uncle Mikes double mag pouch, and the old Leatherman in a front pocket.
I made it down to point B, when all systems went red. Each point marked B contained a thug, waiting in the darkness, standing looking at me. Setup. Hmm. I had to get through them to the small side street marked on the map, point C. My coworker was gone with the van. I could not cross the field to my left, as a fence cut me off from my street, and would probably make their day to chase me down in a dark field. I couldn't call for the wife to come out, nor was turning into the church parking lot, or going back a viable choice. My cellphone was deep in a pocket, the cheesy phone holder having broken the day before. Significantly, I did NOT have my flashlight, a Brinkmann compact with a bright beam. There was no reason for them to be there like that, next to a closed church, (and one in the ditch next to the dirt field marked in brown), but one, and that was to intercept me. Options open were very few, but neither had done anything illegal, yet.
So, I chose the brass ballocks approach. I kept walking, and addressed each one directly, "Good evening." The one closest answered in kind, and I got several yards down the road. I heard feet start walking. Now, in the darkness, I realized just how wonderful hearing is! I listened for two sounds, weapon being made ready to fire, or far more likely, running feet. Right hand was clear, but as I stated before, they had done nothing illegal. I heard walking feet, no laughter, no talking. Then the dadgum wind started blowing right past my ears. I never realized how much I hated the wind. I walked with head cocked slightly, to hear behind me.
When I walked up the side street, and the "others" had reached point C, I heard one say, "Get him!" I turned immediately, and saw both still walking at a normal pace down the street I had just exited, approximately 30 yards away. At this point options again presented themselves, but "You wanna start something?", "Come and get me!", or the famous "Molon Lave!" would do one thing in a court of law - prove I had escalated the situation unneccesarily. So would placing my hand on my weapon, or drawing it, both which can be prosecuted as aggravated assault, with no evidence of self defense being neccesary. I work in prison, and have NO desire to live there. So, to the dissapointment of the armchair commandos, I merely looked at them, obvously shook my head in the "these kids today!" way, and kept going. I heard the same voice urge twice more, "Get him!", and nothing happened, nor had they moved in any way towards me. There is no way they could have seen where I went next, unless they have ninja like skills, and all ended well.

Now, here's the major mistakes I made - assuming my neighborhood was safe because I have lived there for years, not having my flashlight, not leaving IN the van, instead of walking, and driving down the detour. Once I was on the road, my options, with no display of overt threat, were few, and I fully realize I placed myself there. Notice I had almost everything reccomended for armed civilians, including non lethal OC spray, which getting to would have been a PAIN, secured in a duty belt over my shoulder. I do that as I am don't wear a firearm inside the walls, and leave my rig/mags/leatherman in the gun locker up front, so the inside rig comes off, and the HBE Belt Holster goes on when it's time to go home.
Things maybe in my favor, being visibly armed, the uniform as a mild deterrance, and just possibly, the brass ballocks approach. I walk a yard with 1100 inmates, and 33 staff, so strolling through many many people who would love to kill me slowly is not a new experiance. I don't think this was a planned setup, as the one had a shopping bag in hand, and they didn't pursue it, but had I been any Joe Sixpack walking in the dark, I wonder what would have happened...

Let the Monday Morning Quarterbacking begin!

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April 8, 2007, 11:30 AM
Personally, I think you did just fine, under the circumstances. FWIW, that's how I would have handled it. Predators are uncomfortable with confidant prey.
I'm at A, home is at C, and the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.


April 8, 2007, 11:30 AM
The kids seemed to lack a little in spirit. Sometimes you can drive them off by attitude sometimes not. Uniforms certainly help. You always need to be ready to act though.

Since you are corrections officer my mind jumps to maybe this is someone trying to settle a score? I would report this to the police as a threat and maintain a higher alert state for a long period of time...

I always look at the result and not so much the mistakes so given everyone is safe and sound I would say you did fine.

April 8, 2007, 11:31 AM
Well handled. Like most folks, you overrode your instincts due to familiarity (my neighborhood, etc.).
While it's been ~ 15 years since I did criminal prosecutions in AZ I don't think having your hand on your sidearm would constitute a criminal act since you had a reasonable belief that your were being threatened.

And bottom line - Florence is no place to live, inside the wire our out! :D

Happy Easter all.

April 8, 2007, 12:32 PM
Given the totality of the circumstances, I think you would have been justified in covertly drawing your handgun to have it at the ready. If it was as dark as you say, you should have been able to hide it easily under the jacket you were carrying. Also, thugs know what movements around the midsection can mean as well as cops do. If you had made those movements and they noticed, they might very well have broken off the whole process. If they reported you for brandishing then you could have rightly claimed that it would have been impossible for them to see a gun given the lighting conditions. "Honest officer, I was digging for my house keys." It would have been your word as a corrections officer against theirs as common thugs. Most officers give more credence to the word of an upstanding citizen than to the word of known street punks. Do you know the local officers that patrol your area? You should make it a point to get to know them.

April 8, 2007, 12:41 PM
I am not going to criticize what you did at all. It's easy to contemplate what you would or would not do in a situation when you aren't in it. You could even look back on it and see things you could have done differently now that it's over. None of that matters-- because in the moment, you did what you did, you lived, and all is well. That equates to success-- this time.

I will say this however:

At the point that someone yells "Get Him!" I believe it could be argued by any lawyer that you have a VALID reason to believe you were being threatened by these two people. Having your firearm readied and in position to quickly be used would not be an unreasonable course of action.

If a lawyer couldn't argue that successfully, they need to be disbarred.


April 8, 2007, 12:57 PM
Actually, I am a correctional sergeant. :rolleyes: Most people still call me CO, officer, cop, etc. No biggie. Gotta use this event in breifing to staff next week as a reminder not to turn of the situational awareness alarm until IN bed.
rwc, I know of two who got 5 for ag assault for gripping thier hostered firearm "in a threatening manner". I THINK that staute is moot now, due to the many firearm law changes, but I cannot be 100% sure until facing a court.
One thing I was happy about was the laser, as the lack of a flashlight, and lack of night sights might have target aquisitiona little difficult. I will make dadgum sure of having my flashlight in the future.
sacpe81170a, I know several of my local gendarme, good boys and girls all. Some of them used to work inside the walls, before stepping outside. Many people swear ex COs make the best cops, because we learn how to talk to people without the sidearm.:cool:
I will, of course, adjust my method of returning home for a while, and watch the van pool site to see if they are laying in for officers - many COs refuse to carry off duty, despite my best efforts.

April 8, 2007, 01:04 PM
I know of two who got 5 for ag assault for gripping thier hostered firearm "in a threatening manner".

I understand what you are saying. I guess my point is that I would *think* the "Get Him" would be evidence of a valid threat. I am not suggesting that you'd be justified in actually taking action on this sense of threat, but I can't imagine that the "Get him" could be ignored.

Then again, there is a LOT of things that happen that I can't imagine.


Max Beep
April 8, 2007, 01:05 PM
This is an incredibly scary story. Itís really hard to put myself in your shoes, but I would hope that first I would have used the van to avoid the confrontation altogether since youíd observed and identified the potential at the outset. The days of assuming your neighborhood area is safe are over. Lately Iíve had several occasions where people knock on my door late at night asking for directions, money, etcÖ Who in their right mind does that? And yesterday I left my garage door open for two seconds as I was taking groceries inside. I heard someone speak so I went back outside and there was a guy there who offered to mow my lawn. What if my wife had been the one unloading the groceries? Anyway, I didnít mean to get off subject. Good job, but I think I would have put my hand on the gun just to let them know (if they could see it) that there would be severe consequences to any aggression.

chris in va
April 8, 2007, 02:35 PM
Honestly I would have stayed put next to the van instead of walking through the potential trap. But I'm a weenie, that's just me.

Nomad, 2nd
April 8, 2007, 02:37 PM
I think you did as well as you could without a light.
One on your duty belt, and one in your back pocket will make sure you HAVE one.

With a light you can 'shield' your motions. You can shine it in their eyes... and talk to them calmly (Which may do the trick)
AND the brightness of the light will shield the motions of you drawing the gun.

One other thing... this is why I like my BUG pocket carry... I can have it in my hand and no one knows...

April 8, 2007, 02:41 PM
Chris, if I could have seen them, I would have stayed put, but they were beyond the circle of light, and I could not see them until after the van had left. And avoiding a fight is not being aweenie, that's just common sense.:cool: Best way to win a gunfight is not to get into one.:D
Gonna get that flashlight in the pocket starting Monday! That $20 Brinkmann is very bright for it's size, but I am thinking a Surefire Nitrolen in the future.

April 8, 2007, 02:48 PM
I think you handled the situation pretty well. I also think it's sad that you have to worry about facing a court of law for brandishing your handgun in that situation:(

April 8, 2007, 03:18 PM
Perhaps hindsight is 20/20, but if the following is true:
A) You already had your spider-sense tingling over these two clowns, and
B) The area was pitch black.....

You might have considered using the lights on the van to sweep the area before proceeding. It may not have been convenient and/or seemed a bit paranoid, but if you were already waiting for a minute or two to let them pass......INTO the area of your planned route...which is pitch black...then you probably want to at least sweep it with the lights. Personally, I NEVER walk into a place that is pitch black. It's the first thing I taught the coeds back when I was helping out with the self-defense classes at the local university: If it's dark and you are alone, don't go there.

Re. cell-phone, it does you no good way down in a pocket. And I'd have called your buddy in the van before the police, as he was much closer (maybe pre-arrange with him that you will call him if there is trouble with the two clowns who had already set off your radar).

Re. the "brandishing" aspect, if a corrections officer walking alone at night in a pitch-black area is being followed by two young-adult males who shout "get him", I don't think there's a DA in the country with more than two brain cells to rub together who would fault you for turning, putting your hand on your belt NEAR (just forward of) your weapon and ***calmly*** asking "hey guys, nice night. Are you following me, or what?" or something similar.

Still, having put yourself in a bad position, you did a very good job of getting yourself out of it. I'm just arm-chair quarterbacking, adding food for thought. I would definitely report to police, AND your co-workers. These guys were almost certainly probing for weaknesses, assuming it wasn't just a chance encounter with a couple of random thug/jerkoffs. They may already know where you live, as there's no way to be certain that they hadn't followed you in the past. Also, the shopping bag wouldn't have put me at ease. Just the opposite, especially if it was large/bulky enough to conceal a weapon (are we talking grocery bag, or something you could hide a mac-10 inside?).

Even if these guys were random jerkoffs, they now know your AO and at least the likely direction towards your home.

April 8, 2007, 03:43 PM
The fact that you walk a yard filled with socially maladjusted perps is most likely why nothing happened. You do not act like prey.

April 8, 2007, 03:52 PM
Coincidence or planned attack? That is the question. I assume your family is on high alert? If this is a remote or lonely area, what the hell were they doing there in the first place? Shopping bag? Are there stores nearby? Was this a planned thing that they just could not get up the stones to do THIS time? Anything you can do to vary your routine? Maybe have an unmarked car look around about 15 min before you usually get home? By all means report this, if you have to fight them next time it will show you have been stalked, or had reason to fear.

April 8, 2007, 04:22 PM
5 years just for placing a hand on a holstered firearm?I call BS on that.Gotta be more to that story.

April 8, 2007, 05:48 PM
Good composure and analytical assessment.

I'm not sure I could have held it together.

I'm pretty sure that 1) your attitude and posture, and 2) the presence of a duty rig, made all the difference.

Even if they couldn't see the pistol, the uniform and duty rig implies that there is one.

If there had been another one with them, or if they had been a little older and/or made of sterner stuff, I imagine we would be reading "so there I was" rather than "close call."

However, as has already been mentioned, it would seem prudent to vary your routine a little, and make provisions for some kind of backup.

Congratulations on not getting adrenaline poisoning.

Navy joe
April 8, 2007, 06:35 PM
Well, you did good, the only analogy in my experience was getting bumrushed in the dark by a pit bull, there squaring off and staring it down stopped it, it was coming with intent. A confident attitude can work. That said, I do not want to walk in between two suspects and put them behind me. That grocery bag could have contained a weapon ready to fire. So could any pocket on them.

My uncle thought he would confidently ride his bike on a city park path between two thugs about 20 years ago. Granted he is a DC liberal wuss, but he acted with confidence because it was broad daylight, he had a right to be there, and a billy club in his bike basket. Well, they had a steel pipe. When he woke up two months later in the hospital I bet he wished he had turned around. Assumptions can be the mother of all foul-ups.

April 8, 2007, 06:36 PM
Steelcore, I'll relate the two incidences I know of. One was two homeless bums who threatened to kill a guys wife with a rusty butcher knife, inside a mall, if she didn't hand over cash. The gent swept his coat, and placed his hand on his legally concealed weapon. Homeless guys left quickly. Gent and wife went to leave the mall. Homeless bums found cop on duty in the mall, reported the guy threatening them with a firearm. They won.
Another guy was being followed on a dark highway, young fool playing bumper tag, front and back. Gent finally merely displayed his revolver, held upright. Fool pulled off, called DPS, reported he had been threatened by gun waving pistolero. Guilty. He who reports first can win. These cases are from approx 7-10 years back in AZ history. These were quoted to me in a renewal CCW course by an instructor who I repose great trust and confidence.

fireflyfather, good idea with the headlights. On bright, those new GMC headlights can really light up the night. Yes, I do need a new cell phone holder. No $ to buy one at the time. The plastic shopping bag could have been from Circle K, just up the street, small size.
Routine will be varied, and we are moving out soon into our new home.

April 8, 2007, 07:51 PM
Other then not having a light, I can't think of much I would have done different.

I might have discretely drawn when I heard, "Get Him," but I can understand your reluntance to face a possible "brandishing" or worse charge. Realistically though, if they *would* have charged you then, would you have been able to access the pistol quickly enough? Having a hand already on your gun in that situation can make a huge difference.

Mr White
April 8, 2007, 08:20 PM
Attitude and posture count for a LOT, and being a CS, you know how to carry yourself.

Were it me, a computer geek and not a CS, I'd have stopped and got hold of the OC spray as soon as I saw them waiting ahead of me. If I couldn't see them too well, they probably couldn't see me too well. They might have seen me take something from my belt, but it would have left them guessing. And that doubt might have prevented a confrontation ofr someone who's not a pro.

April 8, 2007, 09:06 PM
I agree with JWarren. Walking alone in a dark isolated area, you hear "get him" and you are the only "him" around, would in my opinion give you justification for making your gun ready.

Ghengis Kahn
April 8, 2007, 10:37 PM
i would've Chuck Norrissed their asses. Roundhouse kicks aplenty.

J/K, i would've walked straight in like a dumbass too:rolleyes:

April 9, 2007, 02:16 AM
Arizona will charge someone with aggravated assault for placing a hand on a piece of property which is physically attached to your person? What kind of bullcrap is that?

... Though not applicable in your case, I suppose that's another reason why I like concealed carry in a front pocket. Hand in pocket appears one to be of the most casual poses one can be in, but with the option to be ready to defend one's self in a fraction of the time of most any other method.

April 9, 2007, 02:36 AM
Were they yelling "get him", or was it more like whispering "you get him" "no way you get him!"? It sounds like maybe they were just kids trying to get their courage up to be bad guys and they decided they'd wait for somebody a little easier to pick on. The only thing that worries me is maybe they wanted to get up the courage to steal your gun, and they might decide to go for it next time only be more sneaky about it. Just be careful out there!

April 9, 2007, 02:42 AM
That's what it seemed like to me, deguello. Glad that everything turned out ok.

April 9, 2007, 03:57 AM
1. Thankfully your safe, thats what counts
2. I would have drawn the sidearm and kept it at low ready, its a sad state of affairs that you had to think about the legal ramifications of putting your hand on you gun. I wonder if your knowledge of the CJ system makes you more skidish on doing things that "could" look bad in court
3. With the tactical belt on your shoulder were you able to get to your OC?
4. Not sure where in AZ you are but if its Maricopia county I bet sheriff Joe would love to hear about this one.

Fulcrum of Evil
April 9, 2007, 04:17 AM
Arizona will charge someone with aggravated assault for placing a hand on a piece of property which is physically attached to your person? What kind of bullcrap is that?

You know better than that. It isn't the touching so much as the message: "I have a gun and I'm thinking about whether to shoot you."

April 10, 2007, 06:29 AM
Which is, in fact, bullcrap, because I go to a shooting range all the time with people having guns IN THEIR HANDS MUCH/AT ALL TIMES and I don't get that idea.

If that isn't good enough, the same applies out on BLM land.

The problem is that considering a person keeping a tool ready a crime is that it boils down to being a crime for making someone feel bad. Believe me, if that was a crime, you'd be in jail right now for even insinuating gripping a tool to be a crime. ;)

April 10, 2007, 08:36 AM
+1 to everyone who said they would have drawn. "Get him" in almost every single context is a threat, it implies action is about to take place. I would also have been concerned about the proximity to your home. And how do you suppose they got there if it is the middle of nowhere, like your drawing seems to imply?

April 12, 2007, 07:30 PM

*Which is, in fact, bullcrap, because I go to a shooting range all the time with people having guns IN THEIR HANDS MUCH/AT ALL TIMES and I don't get that idea.

If that isn't good enough, the same applies out on BLM land.

The problem is that considering a person keeping a tool ready a crime is that it boils down to being a crime for making someone feel bad. Believe me, if that was a crime, you'd be in jail right now for even insinuating gripping a tool to be a crime. ;)

*There is a prime example.. well said.

As far as your actions of that night go, guess you were right, but I think you left it too close to being possibly "dead right"

Let me walk that walk in your shoes: I work in a prison, I know there are some on the inside that would love some payback on me and, one's home location for just such a payback, ambush (after work) at night, would not be hard at all to have some buds on the outside find out and act.

I think you lucked out, nothing more and, had they made the "run at ya" in the dark, with the wind blowing, I fear that you would not have had time to pull your weapon and have a fighting chance, as you let "the fear of" Johnny Law over-ride your better judgement of who they are, why they may want to harm you, when you heard (your words) "Get em" twice!!

Personally, I would have had my weapon in hand, under my hanging coat, rdy for a fight, for life.

But that's me if I had walked in your shoes that night.

But, I'm glad luck was on your shoulder that dark night and you're well.


April 12, 2007, 08:05 PM
I sometimes wear a fannypack and at night when walking it is not a question of if I draw my weapon or not, I carry it in my right hand tucked behind the fanny pack, round in chamber and ready to go (PT145 da only). When I get into the clear or back in my vehicle and am under way I tuck the pistol back in the pack and zip up. In cases where I'm carrying IWB at night in dark I will transfer pistol to my right front pocket with my hand on it as I walk.

April 12, 2007, 09:19 PM
Armoredman - no offense but you don't know of those two incidents you were told of those two - and most likely so was the instructor - and the 200 people before him.

Again no offense but without hard proof I don' t believe those stories - I bet the instructoir was trying to make a point so that some newbie with a ccw doesn't go around brandishing or maybe the bum was tellin the truth?

Sounds like urban legends to me.

Glad everything worked out ok - most thugs like to hit from behind and with surprise once you took those advantages away that was what probably ended it.

April 12, 2007, 10:06 PM
I think people are missing something here. Armoredman is an LEO he is not a CCW therefore it would be hard for a prosecutor to claim he "brandished" his weapon, because it was already in plain sight on his belt, even if it was too dark for these "gentlemen" to see it. Maybe I'm wrong but if it had been me at the first "Get him" someone would have found a CrimsonTrace dot on their body.

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