Tag Archive for Mindset

Armed Lorain woman repels intruder

An as-yet-unnamed man’s drunken antics nearly cost him his life when he broken into the home of an armed nurse, 36-year-old Deborah Krasienko.

“I would have shot him had my daughter been home, just out of fear for her safety,” she said. “I almost killed this man, just because he was too dumb and drunk to know what he was doing.”

From the story, Krasienko had just gotten home from work Saturday morning when the drunken intruder began pounding on her front door. She retrieved her handgun as he went around the house and entered through the rear door, breaking the screen door and using the keys she had left in the lock to unlock the back door. He eventually realized she was armed and fled the scene, later to be picked up by the police, positively identified by Krasienko, then driven home.

Hindsight is always 20-20, and it turned out the intruder was non-violent, but it certainly could have ended much worse.

Krasienko was wise to arm herself when her home was threatened but admits exhaustion lead to her mistake of leaving the keys in the back door lock. Had she not done that, he might not have even been able to enter the house.

Once he entered the house, some would recommend using deadly force immediately. It takes only seconds for an intruder to charge and close the distance in most rooms, and a person impaired by drugs or alcohol has diminished capacity to feel pain. Even if such a person was fatally hit he may live long enough to cause significant bodily harm or death. In fact, Krasienko acknowledged the danger by stating she wouldn’t have taken the risk had her daughter been home.

That said, I believe she made the right choice. Pulling the trigger is a last resort and she still had options available. Hopefully she had furniture between herself and the intruder, but even if she didn’t I think it was a reasonable risk to avoid loss of life.

She stated that once he had entered the house he had gotten distracted by her puppy and hadn’t even acknowledged her presence yet. Although he had entered her home it seems clear he didn’t know where he was and was not yet a threat. Once the reality of the situation sunk in he quickly fled the scene. Had he advanced towards her then she would have been forced to defend herself.

When confronted by a situation like this you will have just seconds to make decisions that will affect your life and the lives of others. Using situations like this as a learning experience can help prepare you for what your response will be and make the decision easier.

Securing your home should always be a top priority. Be sure to lock all your doors and windows and remove the keys from the door. Everyone gets tired but you must focus on this detail.

Arm yourself at the first sign of danger. Had Krasienko waited and the intruder been violent she might not have had time to get her gun once he gained entry.

If an intruder does gain access, get him/her out. Do not try to capture the intruder. They could feign compliance while waiting for the opportune moment to attack. Getting them out is a much safer option. Order them to leave clearly and simply.

During the confrontation, try to maintain your distance and keep furniture between you and them as an impediment. Watch for signs of aggression or weapons. A weapon in hand is an immediate cue to act.

Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in a situation like this but if you do, and have considered your options in advanced, it is more likely to end in a positive manner.

Lessons from Aurora, Colorado theater shooting

In reading some of the accounts of the survivors of the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting there are multiple lessons the armed citizen can take away from them to help be better prepared should you find yourself in a similar situation.

Let’s take a look at some of the statements made and accounts printed in the news to see what can be learned.

The suspect [James Holmes] marched up the aisle in the stadium-style theater, picking off those who tried to flee, witnesses said.

I’ve read this account multiple times and there are several explanations. Holmes may have been focusing simply on keeping as many people from escaping as possible. Or, like a cowardly dog, he was most willing to attack when the victim’s back was turned. Along those lines, and based on the body armor he was wearing, he was most fearful of an armed response and was watching for threats to himself. Fleeing victims could be safely engaged.

In this case the best course of action for an armed citizen would be to remain still until an opportunity for a counter-attack presented itself. For example, when the shooter turned to engage a fleeing victim there would be a reduced risk of return fire while attempting to subdue the threat. Your incoming fire would also have the likely effect of distracting his attack and facilitating escape for the victims.

Holmes, used a military-style semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol, stopping only to reload.

While low light would have made it difficult to determine what Holmes was doing, a pause in gunfire and the sound of a reload might make then a good time to attack. Depending on his skill, though, there might only be a few brief seconds to engage.

[Aurora Police Chief Dan] Oates said the gunman wore a gas mask and a ballistic helmet and vest, as well as leg, groin and throat protectors.

The body armor would have made it very difficult to get stopping hits on Holmes, but it might not have mattered. Since he surrendered without incident is is likely that numerous rounds slamming into his vest, helmet, and visor would have been enough to make him flee or at least distract him enough to allow more people to escape and slow down the engagement to give the police more time to respond.

“I didn’t think it was real,” [Jennifer] Seeger said. She said she was in the second row, about four feet from the gunman, when he pointed a gun at her face. “I was just a deer in headlights. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

Being stunned into inaction is a common occurrence when confronted with extreme violence. Despite what the media attempts to portray, it really isn’t all that common and most people go their entire lives without facing a deadly threat. Being prepared and having the mindset that bad things do happen to good people can help you to shave precious seconds off beginning your response. If you know what to do and are trained what to do, your body will just start to do it until your brain has a chance to catch up.

Holmes is also believed to have hurled a gas canister into the theater before opening fire.

It has not yet been officially announced whether the substance used was smoke, tear gas, pepper spray, or another substance but it would certainly complicate an armed response. If a chemical irritant and you were close enough to be exposed, you might have a very difficult time engaging. If smoke, it would combine with the darkness to make it even harder to hit the attacker. A flashlight in the darkness could help or hinder. It would make it easier to see the attacker but might draw his fire. If smoke was used, the smoke could reflect the light and make it harder to see instead of easier. Regardless, in the darkened theater having illuminated sights on your firearm would be a help.

A young family’s last-minute decision to sit in the balcony may have saved their lives in the “Dark Knight” movie massacre…Though the couple had planned to sit in the front of the theater by the exit through which a gunman later entered, they decided instead to sit in the second-floor veranda.

It can be hard to govern your life by what is the best tactical location in any given room, and the best location may very well be determined by the source of the threat. If you’re on the right side of the theater and the shooter is on the right side, you’ve got a problem. If he’s on the left side, though, you may be in a position to quickly escape. For these people, being in the balcony was a safe location for them. Had the shooter been in the balcony, it would not have been.

Personally, I don’t like to be in a position where I’m trapped from reaching an exit or cover/concealment. In a theater, for example, I tend to move a few rows up and sit towards the center giving some cushion for response time and equal opportunity to move left or right depending on need.

Matt McQuinn’s last living act was to shield his girlfriend from the hail of bullets sprayed by the gunman behind the Aurora, Colo., multiplex massacre.

If you’re unarmed, you obviously have fewer options. McQuinn chose to shield his girlfriend with his body, sacrificing himself so that she could survive. Another option might be to charge the shooter when he is distracted and try to overpower him. Very difficult without a weapon unless you are well trained or physically larger/stronger. The end result might be the same, or you might survive your injuries or even escape unharmed. Personally, I’d prefer to go down fighting.

Recently, [Aurora victim Jessica] Ghawi survived the June 2 Eaton Centre mall shooting in Toronto that killed two people and sent several others to the hospital.

There are those saying if we had tougher gun laws in the US and banned “assault rifles”, handguns, and severely restricted gun ownership that tragedies like this wouldn’t happen. Yet Ghawi, who was killed in the attack, was unlucky enough to be present at another mass shooting in Canada, where the gun control movement has met many of their goals. Gun control laws don’t stop madmen like this, they only ensure a safe working environment for the killers.

The mindset of situational awareness

Spend any significant amount of time with self-defense experts and the idea of situational awareness will come up. In its simplest form, situational awareness is nothing more than being aware of your surroundings; but even more than that is being able to correctly interpret what is going on around you to determine what threats might be present.

Many of us who choose to carry a gun for self-defense train regularly to increase our shooting skills. But skill is sometimes not enough. Every year, thousands of highly trained law enforcement officers are assaulted and dozens are killed in the line of duty showing a stark example that training is not always enough to survive. As civilians, we have a luxury they do not: avoiding the confrontation. The best way to avoid the confrontation is to see the threat before it becomes a confrontation. Yet, for all the time we spend training our physical skills with the gun, how much time do we spend training our minds for the mental aspect of situational awareness?

Just like we use repetition to build muscle memory shot shooting skills we can use awareness drills to shift situational awareness from a conscious action to an effortless state of mind. Some examples:

  • Note how many people in sight are wearing the same color shirt. This trains you to look for details and patterns.
  • Count how many rings people are wearing to get you used to watching hands for threats.
  • Watch how many people around you make eye contact with you. Criminals don’t like eye contact because they want their victims to be unaware of their approach.
  • Every time you walk into a room look for things that are different from the last time you were in there. This can help you spot things that are out of place.
  • As you walk up to a store, look through the door or window and try to guess who will be the first person to notice your arrival. This can lead to you identifying a dangerous situation before you enter the building.
  • Observe the faces and demeanor of passersby and try to guess what mood they’re in. This will get you used to reading emotions and can help determine who might be a threat for violent behavior.

These practice sessions will build the “muscle memory” for your brain to continue subconsciously observing your environment and raise your awareness. This projects an air of alertness that most criminals instinctively avoid. A potential victim who is paying attention means a lesser chance of success for an attack. It also helps you to spot potential trouble before it is too late or you are forced to employ deadly force so that you can take steps to avoid the encounter.

You don’t need to be paranoid or constantly on high alert to be safe. In fact, trying to maintain the highest state of awareness at all times can lead to fatigue and burn out which can in turn cause you to miss the threat when the time comes. In contrast, a state of relaxed awareness where your subconscious mind does most of the work is easy to maintain.

It is also important to note that since you are training your subconscious, you might not always realize exactly what the threat it. You’ll just have a feeling that “something’s not right.” Trust your gut and go on conscious alert! You have to discipline yourself to listen to your intuition and not dismiss it as “nothing.” With a little practice, you’ll be much more aware of your surroundings and prepared to avoid threats if possible and less likely to be caught unawares if avoidance is not possible.