Full red alert while picking wife up from work: justified or paranoid?

Full red alert while picking wife up from work: justified or paranoid?

This is a discussion on Full red alert while picking wife up from work: justified or paranoid? within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; The backstory: My wife works in the pharmacy of a CVS/Walgreens/Eckerd-type place as an intern pharmacist. She graduates in May and will take her state ...

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Thread: Full red alert while picking wife up from work: justified or paranoid?

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array paaiyan's Avatar
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    Full red alert while picking wife up from work: justified or paranoid?

    The backstory:

    My wife works in the pharmacy of a CVS/Walgreens/Eckerd-type place as an intern pharmacist. She graduates in May and will take her state boards shortly thereafter to be a full-fledged pharmacist. She rarely works in the retail pharmacy as most of her time is taken up by her clinical rotations for school, but when she does work there she carries. She carries quite often when we're out together and self-defense is just about as important to her as it is to me. She's a good shooter and has the mindset to defend herself if necessary.

    Yesterday (Sunday) she worked 10-5, after which we were going to head to a church function. Because of the trip to church, it was easier and faster for me to pick her up and pick her car up on the way back. So I pull the Jeep in the parking lot and back into a space so I'm facing the store door and the sun isn't shining directly on me. I was a little early and knew I would have to wait a bit, so I was people-watching. Got annoyed at a few people for parking in handicap spots who obviously weren't handicapped, spotted a few people who I'm sure were there for Sudafed to make meth.

    The setup:

    The store's door is one where they sort of cut off the corner of the building and set the door there so it faces at a diagonal from each adjacent wall, if that's clear at all. Like this. From where that picture was taken, I'd have been off-camera to the left, a little too far left to see down the right side of the building. This particular store is in a not-so-nice part of town. The closest I've ever come to pepper-spraying an individual was nearby.

    The situation:

    After I've sat for a few minutes, a black, mid-2000s Jeep SUV pulls into the parking lot and pulls forward into a spot across and a spot left from me. So adjacent to the building. Late 30's to early 40's Caucasian woman at the wheel, two late 20's to early 30's black passengers, one in the front passenger seat wearing a doo-rag, the other in back, and an older black passenger, probably late 40's also in the back. The older gentleman, wearing dark pants and a white t-shirt, enters the store and spends several minutes inside. I didn't think much about the group until he came out of the store. He gets back in the vehicle and the two other black passengers exit, doo-rag-man wearing a very large, baggy red shirt.

    I find it a bit odd that they wouldn't have just saved time and done their business at once. Makes me curious and intent on watching them. What happens next is what makes me nervous. Immediately after they hit the sidewalk and are still on their way to the door, the female driver backs the vehicle out and does a 3-point turn, backing the vehicle into the same spot. I back in either when I want to be watching in a certain direction, or when I think it'll be easier to get out when I'm done. The sun was shining from the right side of the picture I linked to, so backing in would have made the sun worse for the driver, not better, if that was the goal.

    Under other circumstances I'd have probably gotten my phone out and been ready to call the cops and relay details if it looked like anything went down. I'm no hero. But my wife was in there. Right about this time they were starting to close down the pharmacy and count down registers. Any robber who did their homework would know that. I may not be Batman, but if there really is something going down I'm there and the cops aren't. And anything that involves my wife involves me. Two possible scenarios hit me. One: that they could be making separate purchases of things that would raise suspicion if bought together. Second, that the first person cased the place, and the other two could be robbing it.

    The second possibility hit me like a ton of bricks and I went into full-on red-alert. I waited about 15-20 seconds after they went through the doors, locked the Jeep, pocketed my phone and made my way inside, fully aware of and resigned to the possibility of having to shoot someone to protect my wife. Walked past the registers, where I couldn't see the two, and continued about halfway down the West side. Cut through the middle of the building and glanced down each aisle. Spotted them on the hardware/household chemicals aisle. Continued to the pharmacy area and planted myself firmly there right as they were closing the security screen over the counter. She handed me her bag and keys and went back behind the security door as the new register system was having issues. Waited about 5-10 minutes until the pharmacist told her to just head out, that she'd take care of the rest.

    We made our way out of the store and the black Jeep was gone when we got to my Jeep, so it seems nothing went down. Maybe the driver tipped them off, since they had to have seen me when they pulled in. My window was down on that side. Maybe something spooked them. Maybe they were there making separate purchases to reduce suspicion.

    Or maybe they really did just remember something they needed after the older gentleman got in, and I'm just being paranoid. I asked her afterward and she said she didn't remember the first gentleman specifically, but they did apparently sell a ton of Sudafed at the end of the day. I know the other two didn't make it back there.

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  2. #2
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    They were probably 'smurfing', but maybe not, or maybe you did spook an armed robbery? The nice part is that you'll never know.

    The important part was that you saw something unusual, acted in a passive and protective manner upon it, and experienced a non-event. It doesn't get much better than that?

    I sometimes observe stuff like that, and will quietly assume a defensive posture of some sort. The only difference is that I never tell anyone what I'm up to, so nobody can accuse me of being paranoid.
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    "par·a·noi·a noun
    1. Psychiatry . a mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others, sometimes progressing to disturbances of consciousness and aggressive acts believed to be performed in self-defense or as a mission.
    2. baseless or excessive suspicion of the motives of others."
    Were your concerns delusional or baseless? Certainly not by my standards.
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    VIP Member Array Harryball's Avatar
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    Your SA was good. You kept on point. Going into condition red, was a bit much. Other than being black, and all of them not going into the store at the same time, what made you think they were going to rob the place????
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    Distinguished Member Array Elk Hunter's Avatar
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    What was the plate number on the car?



    Come on you sat there that long thinking they were up to no good, as a good witness you had to write down the number so you could tell police.

  6. #6
    VIP Member Array Bad Bob's Avatar
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    Your spidey senses were tingling.

    You observed actions that when articulated the way you did, create a picture. That picture, about halfway through FYI, that tells me as a retired cop there is probable cause to believe SOMETHING is going down. I would have definitely stopped that car and investigated their activity based on your observations. In the same situation, I would have done just what you did.

    You did very well!

    You were not paranoid in the least.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Array Inspector71's Avatar
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    Just be thankful you only sat in the parking lot for a few minutes. If you had spent most of the day there you no doubt would have been a nervous wreck. The comings and goings at a pharmacy is a sight to behold. Knowing your wife is inside the store only adds to the stress. I give you an A+ for going inside and being in position to protect your wife if things went south.
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    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    Full red alert while picking wife up from work: justified or paranoid?
    As this chain of events is described I see every reason to up the alert level. Good observation, good attention to detail, and a good presentation of the facts.
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  9. #9
    VIP Member Array paaiyan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harryball View Post
    Your SA was good. You kept on point. Going into condition red, was a bit much. Other than being black, and all of them not going into the store at the same time, what made you think they were going to rob the place????
    Not necessarily condition red, a serious orange though. I was alerted to something and acted upon my suspicions. Might have worded that poorly. I didn't draw or handle the gun at all, but it definitely got my heart pounding. Being black had nothing to do with it, that was just me stating facts. It was more the fact that they looked like thugs. There are plenty of those in this area; white, black, hispanic, indian. I couldn't care less about skin color, but I'll openly admit that I profile based on attire and demeanor. Still, the attire alone wouldn't have set me off, because the store being in the area that it is gets a lot of those folks. Thugs get colds too. It was the combination of their attire, their separate trips inside and the repositioning of the vehicle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elk Hunter View Post
    What was the plate number on the car?

    Come on you sat there that long thinking they were up to no good, as a good witness you had to write down the number so you could tell police.
    Bold part: not quite.

    Couldn't tell you the plate number, but I could tell you there's a camera that saw it. I didn't catch the plate because I didn't start suspecting anything until they were already backing out to change positions and it was out of view. Once I was going in I'd have had to go out of my way to get a look at it, and I was more concerned with getting inside. I suppose I could keep a pad and pen in my Jeep and write down tags when I find myself sitting around like that. Something to keep in mind.
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    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    Being black had nothing to do with it, that was just me stating facts. It was more the fact that they looked like thugs. There are plenty of those in this area; white, black, hispanic, indian. I couldn't care less about skin color, but I'll openly admit that I profile based on attire and demeanor.
    In my experience, if you are looking like, walking like and quacking like a duck there is a very good chance that you ain't the bluebird of happiness. Profiling is a necessary tool for keeping yourself safe.

  11. #11
    Distinguished Member Array claude clay's Avatar
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    shame on you for profiling

    now, people watching is a good time time killer.
    im only hoping, considering what i've seen, that i don't look to others as they appear to me...

    low level, make enough for themselves cookers seems likely what you saw.
    if they were sellers their ride would have been nicer.
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    Senior Member Array The Old Anglo's Avatar
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    Kudo`s..Good Job!!!.

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    First great thread, thanks for posting. I think you did fine. I have bolded a couple items to discuss.

    Quote Originally Posted by paaiyan View Post
    Not necessarily condition red, a serious orange though. I was alerted to something and acted upon my suspicions. Might have worded that poorly. I didn't draw or handle the gun at all, but it definitely got my heart pounding. Being black had nothing to do with it, that was just me stating facts. It was more the fact that they looked like thugs. There are plenty of those in this area; white, black, hispanic, indian. I couldn't care less about skin color, but I'll openly admit that I profile based on attire and demeanor. Still, the attire alone wouldn't have set me off, because the store being in the area that it is gets a lot of those folks. Thugs get colds too. It was the combination of their attire, their separate trips inside and the repositioning of the vehicle.



    Bold part: not quite.

    Couldn't tell you the plate number, but I could tell you there's a camera that saw it.
    I didn't catch the plate because I didn't start suspecting anything until they were already backing out to change positions and it was out of view. Once I was going in I'd have had to go out of my way to get a look at it, and I was more concerned with getting inside. I suppose I could keep a pad and pen in my Jeep and write down tags when I find myself sitting around like that. Something to keep in mind.

    First highlighted sentence reemphasizes to me the importance about how carefully we choose our initial words. In this case nothing happened. You walked into a store, walked out with your wife, went to a church function then had time to think about what happened to make this post.


    You say "Might have worded that poorly" In hindsight, it seems like you think you did not go to condition red, but a higher than normal level of suspicion. It also seems like you inadvertently opened the door to a discussion about how race played a part in this.

    It makes me wonder how well I would be able to articulate the events if I was involved with a self defense action. Once you make a statement with police, it can't be erased. As the saying goes.....it can and will be used against you.

    As far as the camera goes, it SHOULD have gotten a plate number. You might be surprised at how many cameras don't work for one reason or another.
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  14. #14
    VIP Member Array paaiyan's Avatar
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    Point well-understood about the camera, that is the truth indeed. Like I said, I wasn't super-suspicious until the SUV was moving and I couldn't see it. I can tell you that it had damage on the rear bumper though, a chunk was missing. I could recognize it if I saw it again.

    When I said "red-alert" I wasn't thinking condition colors, I was thinking of my state of alarm at the time. I know "condition red" is pretty much equivalent to deciding to shoot someone, and that's not what I intended to convey. What I intended to convey was that I put a few things together in my mind and came to the conclusion that things I refuse to allow to happen might be happening. I thought bad words I never say, made a decision to step into possible danger and formulated a quick plan for how to go about it. I wasn't "condition red" as in I'm going to be shooting at someone, but it was definitely a "Danger, Will Robinson!" moment for me. So in hindsight, it was worded poorly. I just wasn't thinking condition colors at the time.

    As for race, meh. People can think what they want, it doesn't matter to me. Were I ever in a real situation, I intend to be very, very careful with the words I choose to say. Things I don't say can't be used against me in a court of law or public opinion. The closest person I've ever come to hosing down with pepper spray was a white guy with decent clothes and a shiny car. I won't lie that appearance is close to the top of the list of things I factor into a threat assessment of a person. Race isn't. Some people can't get past that. They equivocate profiling based on appearance with racism, and that's just not the case. People of all skin colors can and do look like thugs.

    Me stating the race of various participants in the situation is just me giving the details that imprinted on my mind. The woman, for instance, was wearing a white shirt with some design on it, muted colors. The older gentleman's white shirt has a design on the front in black with a lot of fancy scrollwork. The red shirt on one of the younger guys was plain. His doo-rag was black. It's just things I remember.
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  15. #15
    Member Array SigHawk's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting. Sounds like you did fine to me. You didn't hit the panic button, you just observed and took a defensive posture.

    When you saw your wife inside, did you mention to her your concerns right away, so that she might be ready should something go down?
    Last edited by OD*; March 28th, 2012 at 09:35 PM.
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