Oh wow! Glad you're OK and you just reaffirmed to this country boy to give Chicago a WIDE berth.
This is a discussion on Real Mugging (Lengthy story that happened to me a while back) within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Hey everyone, I've thought about sharing this story several times since I've joined, and I finally decided to go ahead with it. This is an ...
Hey everyone, I've thought about sharing this story several times since I've joined, and I finally decided to go ahead with it. This is an incident that happened to me a few years ago (before I was carrying) where I was robbed at gunpoint. My initial hesitation in posting this was for several reasons; I didn't want to seem like an attention-seeker, and telling this story is a little difficult. Not difficult as in traumatic, but for some reason every time I look back and examine this incident, it fills me with rage and just sorta puts me in a bad mood. However, this event was essentially the catalyst that caused me to start carrying.
As I said, I'm not sharing this for attention, I'm mainly sharing it to see what you all would've done in this very real situation, and also because I want to share with you some of the mistakes I made in this encounter, with the hopes that others can learn from them. I am by no means an instructor or an expert of any kind, but I think I've got a relatively good head on my shoulders, and I can look back now and realize what I did wrong. So, here we go. This may get a little long, so I'll put some cliff notes at the bottom for you folks.
A few years ago, I was living in a not-so-nice area of Chicago called Pilsen. To give you an idea of how not-so-nice it is, the neighborhood I lived in was actually featured in an episode of Gangland on History Channel. Now, just to be clear, I wasn't living in a "nice" part of the neighborhood. This wasn't one of those neighborhoods where some streets are nice and others are bad -- the entire neighborhood was sketchy. The alley behind my apartment was completely covered in gang graffiti.
I moved there because, back then, I wanted to live in Chicago to pursue music. Let's just say that I still love that city, but I hate its politics. As for a city, it's beautiful -- you have Lake Michigan right there, good food everywhere, and there's always something to do. I'm not going to get into politics here, but I'd argue the only downsides to the living there were the cost of living, the crime, and the politicians. When I first started looking for places to live, I asked as many people as I could about the best parts of town to live in. I had picked out a few places to look at, and I took a trip up there, but once I got there the places I'd planned to look at were already rented. Chicago's real-estate (at least when it comes to renting apartments) is such a fast-paced market that if you find a place you like, you pretty much have to be ready to sign the lease right away, because it'll be gone the next day.
As it turns out, that's exactly what I ended up doing. My budget didn't allow me to pay more than 600 a month, and while there were some really trashy studios available for that much in somewhat nicer parts of the city, the only places I could afford an entire one-bedroom were obviously the poorer parts of the city. I chose Pilsen because it was conveniently close to downtown, and the apartment I rented was only a block from the train. I had heard horror stories about Pilsen being a terrible gang neighborhood, but I just shrugged them off, figuring people were blowing it out of proportion. I'd lived in bad parts of town before, and I just assumed that Pilsen couldn't compare. I was so wrong.
After the first few months I started doing some freelance web-design work to pay the bills, and eventually got a job part time at a hardware store downtown to help pay the bills. I noticed several things: there was gang graffiti everywhere, there were people who were very obviously in gangs "posted up" on a lot of the corners doing drug deals, and there were always sirens going off, and I heard gunshots several times week, both day and night. The police presence was surprisingly large; you could count on seeing cruisers driving around up to 30 times a day if you spent the day out doing errands. There were even unmarked cars patrolling, and once or twice a week, I'd see a bust going down. Plain clothes cops wearing kevlar would hop out of unmarked cruisers and apprehend people on the street, it was very admirable seeing the immense amount of work they were doing to combat all the crime. I developed a new respect for the police after living in Pilsen; not that suburban or rural LEOs are any less dedicated or hard-working, but these guys meant business and were always, ALWAYS busy. It didn't seem like they were patrolling as much as they were always on the way to the scene of some sort of crime.
Even with all the police presence, living there still made me nervous. I'd try to get all my errands done in the daytime hours, and I'd always keep my head on a swivel and be on the lookout. Sometimes though after work I'd go meet with friends for dinner, or play a show somewhere, and I'd find myself forced to be out late. Whether driving my own car or taking public transit, parking was so bad it didn't really make any difference in the amount of walking I'd have to do late at night. I'd had a couple close-encounters with gang-members, homeless, and intimidating people in general, but nothing serious had happened yet until 5 months living there.
One night I'd just gotten done playing a show at a bar up north in Lincoln Park (a trendy, upperclass neighborhood with lots of bars, restaurants, shopping, etc.). I didn't get out until about 1 AM, and I did have my car with me, so I drove home. It was a Friday night, so parking was beyond horrendous. When I got back to Pilsen I spent about 15 minutes driving around looking for spots, and I finally found one about a half mile away from my apartment. I parked the car, grabbed my acoustic guitar and my backpack (full of my CD's, guitar cables, etc.) and started walking back.
One of things that made me so nervous about walking at night was how deserted the neighborhood was. In the daytime you could hear ice cream trucks driving around, kids yelling at each other in Spanish, loud music coming from apartments, and there were always lots of people walking around and little tamale carts on every other corner. At night, however, the streets were empty and quiet, and it was very eerie.
When I was about halfway home, I turned a corner and I saw this young guy walking toward me on the same side of the street. I was nervous because I felt like I looked like a good target (with my guitar case obviously visible and my big backpack). He was pretty far down the street, but he was walking toward me, so I switched to the other side of the street. I kept walking and as he got a little closer I got a little more nervous. I didn't have anything on me I could really use to defend myself; no knife, no gun, just my fists. I noticed as he got closer that he was wearing nothing but black and yellow (colors of one of the larger local gangs), and he had a bandana around his head.
I went from being alert and nervous to being VERY alert and VERY nervous, but I tried my best to remain calm and just told myself that when our paths crossed, he would just keep on walking. That's exactly what happened. He spent a good time staring me down, and I stared back and nodded with a kind of friendly but serious "how's it going" look. My idea was that by acknowledging his presence and nodding at him it would (hopefully) show that I wasn't afraid, knew he was there, and was being friendly. He didn't nod back, didn't say hello, and continued to stare at me as if I were some sort of specimen he were examining. He continued to walk past me and I let out a sigh of relief.
Just as I had let out a sigh of relief, I heard his footsteps behind me getting closer and getting faster, and as I started to turn around he was right behind me and had a gun pointed at my face.
He said something (not sure exactly what due to his accent) to me, and the gist of it was that he wanted me to give him my wallet, guitar and backpack. I just sort of stood there in shock, not knowing what to do, with about a million thoughts racing through my head. At first it was fear, but that soon turned into complete rage, and I stopped thinking about whether or not he was going to kill me, and I just said "No, **** you!" and started backing up. He moved right along with me and put the gun about an inch from my nose and said "Give me the **** or I'm gonna kill you!" Having the gun right in my face smacked a bit of sense into me and I dropped my guitar and backpack and threw my wallet on the ground. He grabbed my wallet and guitar, and took off running, leaving the backpack.
Now, I'm not sure why my mind works the way it does, but the rage grew even more, and I remembered that the guitar he was running off with was a gift from my grandfather to me when I was little, and it had tremendous sentimental value. The thought of him selling it to a pawn-shop or one of his homies infuriated me so much that I was shaking with anger. I took off running at him, almost got close enough to grab his shirt (and I tried), he saw how close I was and dropped the guitar (either on accident or to lose the weight, I'm not sure) and turned down an alleyway. I was losing distance on him and when I saw him turn another corner out of sight I gave up.
I cursed at the top of my lungs and punched a chain link fence out of anger, and this old hispanic woman came out of the apartment next to me and started yelling at me in Spanish (probably telling me to quiet down). I yelled at her "I was just ****** ROBBED!" -- she muttered some more under her breath and went back inside and slammed the door. I sat down on the sidewalk and started sobbing, and after 30 seconds I remembered he dropped my guitar. I ran back to grab it, found it, and ran back to my backpack. I opened the guitar case (it was an old case) and the guitar had cracked right across the front. I continued to sob and I finally called 911.
A cruiser with two cops pulled up almost right away. They got out, interviewed me, took a bunch of notes, radioed it in, and gave me a ride home. They told me, believe it or not, that he probably wanted my driver's license more than anything, saying that they're like gold to the gangs in the area because they can use them to counterfeit realistic fakes to sell to illegal immigrants. They said they'd go out looking for him and would have another unit looking too, but it was unlikely they'd find him.
I finally got home and I couldn't sleep at all that night. I woke up in the morning and called my bank (only had one debit card) and let them know, they said it was already turned off because someone tried to use it at an ATM but entered an incorrect pin too many times. I had to wait to get a new DL because the one stolen was an out of state one, and I had decided I wasn't going to live in Chicago anymore after my lease was up. I'm a country boy at heart, and I decided that I'd had enough of the big city. I did get a call a few days later from a detective at the PD; he just asked me some follow-up questions and said they hadn't found anyone matching the description, but they would let me know if they did. He asked if I would mind coming in to look at a line up if they did find someone, and I said sure. I was still angry.
Looking back, I made quite a few mistakes. I was in a bad place, at a bad time. I was naive and thought that once he'd passed me, I was safe. I was also so angry that it didn't fully sink in that I could've been killed until the next day. When I had that gun pointed at my face, I should've just complied or, if anything else, tried to escape. When he took off with my stuff, I should've just called the cops right away. I should NOT have chased after him. I could very well be dead if he had decided he wanted to make sure I wouldn't follow him or call the cops. Since then, I decided to take a cab if I knew I would be out late somewhere. That way I could leave, get right into a car, and get out of the car RIGHT at my apartment. I told myself that when I got back to Ohio, I'd apply for my CCW permit and take some training.
These days my apartment is in an urban area in Ohio, in a place that does have some crime, but I always carry now, and I am much, much more aware of my surroundings and the people around me. I do my absolute best to follow the three stupid's rule and not go to stupid places, not hang around with stupid people, and not do stupid things. I've also started to call the police a lot quicker if anything suspicious is going on. The cops got to me so fast that if I had called right after I saw the guy approaching, they would've likely been there in time at least to catch him.
So, the biggest lesson for me in this situation was this: Situational awareness, de-escalation, and not-being-naive are king when it comes to avoiding these things. If I'd had a little more situational awareness, I would've been able to probably get away from him or call the police before he got the jump on me. If I'd used de-escalation instead of pure rage, my chances of getting shot would've gone way down once the SHTF. If I had been less naive, I would've known that there was no reason to be walking home that late in that neighborhood, and I would've called a cab ahead of time and the whole thing likely never would've happened. But, above all else, I am glad this situation happened to me. It provided the motivation I needed to make sure I'll never be a victim again if I can help it.
I was walking home from my car late at night in a bad neighborhood with my guitar and backpack. I saw a dangerous person approaching me, and when he passed I thought I was safe. He came right up behind me, pointed a gun at my head, and took my guitar and my wallet and ran off. I got angry and chased after him, he dropped the guitar and got away. Police never caught him (as far as I know) and I learned some valuable lessons.
What would you have done in this situation had you been armed? Heck, what would you have done had you not been armed? I'm very curious to know. I think if something like that happened to me today (even more unlikely since I now practice SA and all of the things I mentioned above) I probably wouldn't have drawn. I would've tried to run or I would've let him take my stuff and run off, and then called the cops.
Sorry for the lengthy post, it's just a lot to get out.
"Shoot low boys, they're riding Shetland ponies." -Lewis Grizzard
Oh wow! Glad you're OK and you just reaffirmed to this country boy to give Chicago a WIDE berth.
Geez I felt like I just read a novel lol. But on another note that seems like a great scenario to have a snubbie in your pocket and/or do the wallet trick. At least you are still alive but I'm not sure that even good SA would have been able to prevent that.
You were young, didn't believe "things" could be as bad as you hear about in the news.
Some people go their whole life living in places like that, and nothing happens, but the wheel of fortune/fate landed in your lap.
You were "educated", thankfully made it out alive, and are none the worse for wear.
Probably not a lot you could have done in that instance.
You had your arms full of stuff, so the perp knew you were no threat to him, in the way of resistance or another member of a rival gang.
Some are not so lucky.
I would rather die with good men than hide with cowards
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy."
M&Pc .357sig, 2340Sigpro .357sig
Isn't it illegal to have a gun in Chicago? What would have happened to you if you did carry and shot him (being illegal in Chicago)?
Hmmmm... didn't stop the BG though!
US Air Force, 1986 - 2007
"To disarm the people is the best and most effective way to enslave them..." George Mason
being armed does not mean using the gun
think on that a bit----
an object, guitar , has value to a person beyound its intrensic.
weight that value vs its being taken or broken--
have it and use it & risk its being damaged or stolen
the joy derived from using it vs squirrling it away and only having it as an object of affection
a gun in your hand than and perhaps taking a lfe---perhaps he grew up and did change, or got himself kilt
you don't know.
you also do not know how you would have been changed forever and in what ways,
had you pulled the trigger.
ultimately you do know how it has changed you
and comes a time to let go; to move on
You plug 'em, I plant 'em
...kid can't read at 17 (Garcia/Hunter 1985)
Lack of preparation on your part does not necessarily constitute an emergency on mine
i grew up in the chicago land. i was begining to fall in with the wrong crowed, my grades in school SUCKED, i was around drugs more, and around criminals more, was even beinging to think like one. GOD BLESS my late father, for sending me to military school to get away from all of that. Anyways, i currently live in milwaukee, and i would MUCH rather walk down the street on the north side here (really bad part of MILwaukee) at 1am then chicago at 9pm. most of my "friends" from there are currently in jail and the ones that arent there are HUGE drugies.
I am glad that you are alright. and you recived that "education". i remember a quote from my english teachers class room my senior year (not word for word and forgot who said it), but it went something like, In order for one to be educated, they should spend atleast 6 months as a bartender, and 6 months as a cab driver in chicago. this scenario is the reason why.
I am glad you are safe and thank you for sharing.
A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life wrote a blank check Made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'
Prepare for the worst, hope for the best!
In my mind, I like to believe that I would have call the police as soon as somebody that looked suspicious that was walking near me that late at night.
In reality, and also living in an urban center in SW OH (go bearcats this thursday!!), if I called everytime somebody suspicious walked by at night, the city would send me a bill!
It happened, you lived, and you learned. Sometimes, that's all we can ask for.
As to if I had a gun? Either transition to open carry, and let them see I am armed, or as soon as I knew he was coming back my way, pull my firearm and hold it at my side. Not point it or threaten anybody, just let him know I have it. Some people here will not like that, but it might save me a mugging as well as saving the perp a bullet hole.
What a great story thank you for sharing it with all of us. So what happened to the guitar, could you fix it?
Thanks for the feedback guys, I appreciate it. I guess I'm just curious to see what you guys would've done in either situation -- in Chicago without any sort of weapon, or in any other city with a weapon. Thoughts?
"Shoot low boys, they're riding Shetland ponies." -Lewis Grizzard
A guy here, described a situation much like yours and in a so-so neighborhood.... the guy walked past him at night, and then he suddenly found the guy had come up behind him and had a gun in his back, telling him to hand him his wallet.
He, pulled a gun and shot over his shoulder and hit the guy in the head, killing him. How he did this, I have no clue. But they said that's what happened. I'm betting his ears were ringing for a long time. I'm not sure I would be very good at that.
Another guy, was riding his bicycle to the post office to mail a letter, and a guy came up and pulled a gun on him when he stopped. He got him into a conversation about why he was doing this, and believe it or not..... since the guy was "down on his luck" , talked him into getting him a place to stay that night, to buy him supper, and to help him find a job.... and was good to his word.
A friend of mine was cornered in a New York Subway by 3 guys, one who was holding a knife on him and they were obviously robbing him. We had known each other since were 3 yrs old, and his non-verbal motions told me that he was telling me to stay back. He convinced them we were broke, hadn't eaten for days, and they ended up feeling so bad for us that one of the guys met us at a diner and fed us (so I had to act like I hadn't eaten for days .... right after I had just eaten). He became a very good actor on Broadway.
So, who the heck knows..... all I can say is , I'll use every tool in my tool box I have .... to the level I think I need to ensure my safety.
I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. --- Will Rogers ---
Chief Justice John Roberts : "I don't see how you can read Heller and not take away from it the notion that the Second Amendment...was extremely important to the framers in their view of what liberty meant."
assuming you were carrying, and even that it was in a state where it is ok:
unless you already had your gun in your hand, when he came up to you with a gun in your face, and if you believe he would use it, do you think you are going to be able to draw and fire faster than he when he already has his finger on the trigger 2" from your face?
And even if you had your gun in your hand and you turned, and he saw this, are you ready to shoot immediately? Because the chances are that once he saw you had a gun, he would be shooting.
Without knowing the makeup of the BG, it's really hard to tell. Is he some sociopath who has no compunction about killing, and therefore the second he sees you have a gun, he shoots? Or is this his first assault, and he is not so ready to kill someone, so you might have a chance. If you believe you are not about to be killed if you just give him your money, you are outraged and alive. Otherwise, someone is getting shot when 2 see each other with a gun.
Again, this is only if I'm convinced that he is going to likely take my life. Even if my chances are slim, I'd be doing everything I could to stay alive and shoot back. Heck, even if unarmed, if it seemed clear he was going to kill me, I'd still do everything I could to fight back. But that's me.
"Shoot low boys, they're riding Shetland ponies." -Lewis Grizzard
I think it is a decision we make based on the circumstance- that was a really close one. That said, I have no property worth killing or dying over. If you have the drop on me and want my wallet...you can have it. You have the drop on me and want my car...take it. You want to run off with a TV...go ahead. I will not shoot anyone in the back either. However, there are circumstances I would warn with a full grip. it is a really tough call. Just understand what is and is not worth it. I focus on protecting life and avoiding injury...not going all gung-ho protecting $200 in my wallet or a car that can be replaced via insurance.
That said, I do everything I can to avoid bad areas and live in literally a crime-free area to avoid things like this. If I were in that situation, I would not have drawn and shot the guy. However, if I sensed that dreadful sense you did, I may have thought about keeping my hand on the gun grip. That is a rough call, but you were unhurt and alive. That is the most important thing.