1994 🔫 Grand Theft Auto
In my late 20s, I saw some young kid looking in car windows at the condominium where I lived. It was just too suspicious, and there had been a few breaks in during that year.
I turned my light on, so he could see me, and I stared him down from my window (which could see some of the parking area). He saw me and he decided to go underneath the condos (where there was more parking) but it didn't look like he was leaving.
The kid looked suspicious, and I shouldn't just have to tolerate the crime -- but there wasn't enough to warrant calling the police (yet). Someone looking in a car window or three isn't a crime (even if suspicious) and by the time the police got there, any event would be over.
With a big sigh, I got my gun and hid it in the small of my back (just in case), and went down stairs. When I came around the corner to the parking structure, he was and a partner were next to a car (Volkswagen Jetta) with a broken window.
They were both about 18 - 20ish (I was about 7 years older), and they looked either Hispanic or South-asian (it can be hard to tell on some kids). I was thinking about making a citizens arrest right there -- having them lay on the ground until the police came. I don't think citizens should have to ignore what is wrong out of fear.
But as we sat there staring at each other, I could just see it in their eyes -- they would be stupid enough (and young and "invincible" enough) to make a move at me. I had been a Martial Arts instructor for quite a while, and I was pretty good at reading people -- I wasn't afraid of two kids who were my size, but I didn't want to have to kill them out of their own stupidity: and I would have done so because of the responsibilities I have to myself and my family to survive such a confrontation.
Multiple attackers is always dangerous and not to be trifled with, and I didn't know what weapons they had, so it would have to end fast if anything started.
I decided to just "shoo them away" and not to try to arrest them -- maybe they would learn the error of their ways by this opportunity. I doubted it, they were too cocksure. So we just had a staring contest. They got in aggressive posture to try to intimidate me into leaving, and I gave them a look that let them know that I was not going to let them commit the crime and that they had better not make a move towards me. I had 20', which was barely enough time to draw, if they moved.
It was only about 5 or 10 seconds, that seemed like many minutes -- but they decided (reluctantly, and wisely) to leave. I could make too much noise and wasn't afraid of them, so they knew not to escalate things.
I was still observing the area and the car, when a third kid crawled out of the car (he was either stealing the stereo or preparing to steal the whole car).
As he got out of the car, I noticed he had a large knife. Actually, it was long, flat, with a handle and metallic flat part -- but he was sort of hiding it behind his leg, so I'm not sure if it wasn't just a specialized tool to get the stereo out, or rework the ignition of the car. But he started coming towards me, probably because I was sort of in his path of escape (there was a wall the other way). I wasn't taking any chances (he had a weapon), I stepped backwards as I pulled the gun and took the safety off.
I didn't point it at him (yet), because you never aim a gun at anything you aren't prepared to shoot (immediately) -- but if he had made a move at me then HE would have forced me to kill him.
He had the proper response, which was to turn white and not make a move towards me and realize how dangerous his actions were making this situation.
I backed up enough that he could safely get around the car (without coming close to me), and get out of the area.
He moved very slowly around the car, and as soon as he got around the car (and the wall of a parking garage) I heard him take off like a scalded cat.
Again, I know I had the choice of making a citizens arrest on the spot (you can't get caught much more red-handed than these kids) -- but by that point my entire decision making process was completely on how to get out of the situation without being forced to kill these dumb kids. Guns are about responsibility and they do escalate situations -- but they are not the only thing that escalates a situation. He had a weapon -- there was no doubt that the situation was escalated already. I was not going to tolerate the crime -- and by the time I realized it was a crime, the situation was already becoming very risky and it was a good thing that I had a gun.
Still, I wasn't going to push things either. I hoped that with the experience that the kids would learn a lesson and rethink their choices -- but I doubt that happened, since later that week we had some more car stereos stolen (and a couple cars)...from the other side of the complex. Such is life.
I don't regret my decisions -- but then I don't think I would have regretted them even if the kids had made me shoot them.
The cops came and I discussed what had happened and the kids descriptions and so on. The facts are that having the gun again probably helped the situation a lot. Without it, my confidence level may have been lessened enough to have any one of them (or group of them) move on me. Maybe I could have gotten away, maybe not, maybe I would have seriously hurt them or they would have hurt me -- the point is that the gun helped (in my mind), and I'm the one that should have the right to make such decisions for myself.