Fearing an abduction setup, I accosted dad and daughter -oops.

Fearing an abduction setup, I accosted dad and daughter -oops.

This is a discussion on Fearing an abduction setup, I accosted dad and daughter -oops. within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Not firearm-related, but folks will likely have opinions on this. While on lunch break I visited a local sub sandwich shop. Nearly finished, I observed ...

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  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array Paymeister's Avatar
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    Fearing an abduction setup, I accosted dad and daughter -oops.

    Not firearm-related, but folks will likely have opinions on this.

    While on lunch break I visited a local sub sandwich shop. Nearly finished, I observed a rather odd-looking fellow and a 13-year-old girl at a table near me. Around 40 or so, his style of dress wasn't identifiably 'professional', 'nerd', 'blue-collar', but was kind of a combo of the three (polo shirt, slacks, tennis shoes, horn-rimmed glasses, clean-shaven, balding, a lot trimmer than me, but shirt too tight). The girl was in a soccer-ish outfit. His smile seemed forced or overdone, somehow. Their manner was comfortable (no figits or discomfort exhibited), but I heard a part of a conversation that really made my alarm bells ring. He said, "So after we eat are you going to go over to the liquor store?" (there was one next door). She replied, "No! I don't think they would sell anything to me - I'm only 13!"

    That snippet suggested to me that he was a relative stranger to her (as she wouldn't need to tell her dad/brother/uncle her age), and the suggestion of liquor struck me as really odd and a possible intro to getting her drunk. I immediately considered the possibility of a predator-hookup-at-the-soccer-game-can-I-buy-you-lunch-for-starters situation, and began thinking of if/how I should respond.

    Having no more than this to go on I certainly wasn't in the position to call the cops on the guy, but I did do the following:
    • Took the sandwich shop manager aside and asked if she knew the guy, and told her of my concern - she said she had never seen him before;
    • Visited the liquor store next door and told the manager of what I had heard, and encouraged her to step in if he showed up with the girl;
    • Discretely took his photo, a photo of the two, and photos of the car license plates out front;
    • Emailed the photos to my wife (so if something bad went down, she would have the photos already), and called her to tell her where I was and my concerns.
    • When he got up to dump the trash, (and leaving the cell phone line open with my wife) I asked the girl how she knew him, making a complete donkey out of myself, it turns out: it was her dad.
    • The reactions of the two were perfectly consistent with "who is this weirdo" rather than the discomfort/anger I would have expected from a bad guy and the 'oh, he's my coach' from a soon-to-be victim.
    • I apologized and beat it out of there, going to the liquor store manager and after the two had left going to the sanwich shop manager to let them know that it was a false alarm.

    I have a daughter in college, and I've heard enough horror stories to overcome my natural desire to 'be nice' and to not get involved. I feel I made an idiot out of myself with those two (who cares, of course - I'll never see them again), and realize that if he HAD been a bad guy he might have taken exception to my interference.

    About the only thing I can think of at this point that I would have done differently is to have had my pepper spray in my other hand, ready to go. I was unarmed at the time, and don't know how/if being armed might have changed my actions (might have kept me from acting, possibly, not wanting to 'start anything' while carrying).

    What should I have done, if anything? Thoughts?

    And if by some coincience Dad sees this: Sir, please forgive my evaluations of style and my calling your actions into question: it was out of concern for your daughter, but it sure wasn't 'smooth'.
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Patti's Avatar
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    I had a creepy thing happen to me while eating at a restaraunt.

    A little girl (probably about 4 yrs old) kept staring at me. She was with a really filthy old guy....could have been her grandfather.

    She kept staring at me at then she called me "mommy"

    The old guy grabbed her and left. My mind was racing.

    But what could I have done? Asked the old guy for identification?

    This has haunted me for a long time.
    Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy. — Winston Churchill

  3. #3
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    You never know and if you say/do something it could bite You.

    OP I would say you did good with your concerns.

  4. #4
    VIP Member Array grady's Avatar
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    Paymeister, have you thought how you would feel if you said nothing, and found out later she was abducted? I imagine you have.

    As far as feeling like an idiot... it gets easier the more times you do something that leaves you feeling that way. In fact, if you're a regular practitioner like me, pretty soon those feelings will roll right off you.

    Good observations. The conversation about her going into a liquor store wouldn't have sounded normal to me either.

    Great idea to take pics of them and the license plates.

    I don't fault you for being concerned about her safety, nor for your actions. If I was the dad, I might be offended, but a little offense weighed against another possible kidnapping? He'll get over it.

    You and IronMike would make a good tagteam of babysitters. I'd hire you two if I could for any grandkids that come my way.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array Katana's Avatar
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    When it comes to kids, that's the only time I can ever justify being anything more than a good witness if something doesn't directly involve me. I see nothing wrong with what you did there.

    Better to feel a little foolish and be right, then to be wrong and live with the guilt that you could of done more if you would've seen her pic in the paper as missing or dead.
    "Stand your ground, don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here!" - John Parker April 19th, 1775 Lexington, MA

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patti View Post
    I had a creepy thing happen to me while eating at a restaraunt.

    A little girl (probably about 4 yrs old) kept staring at me. She was with a really filthy old guy....could have been her grandfather.

    She kept staring at me at then she called me "mommy"

    The old guy grabbed her and left. My mind was racing.

    But what could I have done? Asked the old guy for identification?

    This has haunted me for a long time.
    You heard a cry for help.

    I too have seen associations inappropriate in age and style and, overly guarded by thuggish types, the "victim" with the swum-too-far-to-get-back look - a desparate, lonely, silent plea. It's that inimitable facial expression of fear that sets alarm bells ringing. It led me to a healthy interest in The Missing and Exploited Children Website.

    You would have had to have been very, very lucky to intervene and to hold the man for positive identification right then. OTOH, you might have followed to get a description of the vehicle and asked local police or the police from the state of the license plate of the vehicle, again, if you were so lucky. Was this before Amber Alerts?
    Americans understood the right of self-preservation as permitting a citizen to repel force by force
    when the intervention of society... may be too late to prevent an injury.
    -Blackstone’s Commentaries 145–146, n. 42 (1803) in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)

  7. #7
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Paymeister, I think you did just fine.

    I've done much the same thing on several occasions, when the warning bells are going off in my head regarding something I've witnessed.

    Imagine ... What would happen if it turned out that kid had been reported in the next 36hrs as missing? With the prep you did, then investigators would have some solid leads for tracking her down. THAT sort of assistance can make all the difference in the world, to a kidnapped person.

    Your scenario paints a solid example, though, of just how tough it can be to come into the middle of something and not have the right idea of who's who. It's very easy to get it all wrong. Those other discussions we have regarding whether to jump into the fray like Captain America and "save the day"? Well, it's that easy to screw up big-time, when you don't know GG from Bad.

    Good on ya, for doing a bit of prep and investigation. IMO, it's far better to be safe than sorry. You helped them both, though they won't see it that way. You done good.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
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  8. #8
    VIP Member Array nedrgr21's Avatar
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    Can you honestly say you've never heard someone teasing a youngster with a challenge they both know the kid couldn't or wouldn't pull off - especially concerning something reserved for adults? I bet you should've paid more attention to their tone of voice and picked up on that instead of judging people by the way they dress. You said "Their manner was comfortable (no figits or discomfort exhibited)" so why confront the guy? - if he was in the process of abducting her, why would he bring her into an eatery, stay to eat, and let her sit where she has the best access to the front door? That makes no sense. You're lucky he didn't see you taking secret pictures of his daughter - you'd have some 'splainin' to do, and may have had a beat down coming and I wouldn't blame him.

  9. #9
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nedrgr21 View Post
    Can you honestly say you've never heard someone teasing a youngster with a challenge they both know the kid couldn't or wouldn't pull off ...
    I've also seen a pre-teen do darned near exactly what he'd been challenged to do, or what he'd threatened to do, in spite of what I "knew" (assumed) it meant.

    You never know what people are capable of doing, or what they are willing to attempt when under pressure. (Think: Elizabeth Smart, abducted years ago and made a slave, during which time she might well have been out with the kidnappers and things might have been overheard at the time which could indicate things weren't what they seemed.)

    It's not about judging. It's about being aware and prepared, looking out for each other.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
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  10. #10
    VIP Member Array nedrgr21's Avatar
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    But that still didn't indicate a abduction, did it? Besides, the main point is it's not just what is said, but the tone of their voices - you conveniently cut that part out, just like the OP did with the conversation ;). I bet dollars to doughnuts that 13 yr old had a playful or sarcastic tone in her voice along with an eyeroll - the OP just didn't catch it. Isn't that part of the being aware? Context is extremely important and can completely change the dynamics of a situation.

    OP said neither the guy, nor the girl were fidgety or looked uncomfortable. Mitchel put Elizabeth Smart in a disguise when he had her out in public, this girl has her hair pulled back completely exposing her face. Again the OP's words "Their manner was comfortable (no fidgets or discomfort exhibited)".

    While you say it's not about judging, the OP definitely judged the guy based on his style, or lack thereof, of dress. His "looking odd" got the ball rolling and assumptions for the worse were made.

    What would members here do if you caught someone sneaking pictures of your kids w/o your permission? Do you start to unholster the minute you see a guy in a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses? - remember, winter is coming.

  11. #11
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nedrgr21 View Post
    But that still didn't indicate a abduction, did it?
    Might well have. Didn't, in hindsight. Some would say, better safe than sorry.

    Again, some indicators we hear, see, sense, are subtle. As de Becker suggests in his book The Gift of Fear, listening to those rising little hairs on the back of your neck can keep you alive. We weren't there. The OP was. To him, at the time, the statements being made by the pair didn't square with reasonable, common things that a youth and adult would be saying to each other. Anyway ...

    It comes down to circumspection in an ugly world gone awry. It comes down to paying attention, watching out for each other, trying to help when we can, when it matters. In this instance, it turned out quickly to be other than he'd originally assumed. No harm, no foul, other than to be thought a bit "strange" by the pair.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, SAF, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

  12. #12
    Member Array IronMike's Avatar
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    Thanks Grady,anytime!
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  13. #13
    VIP Member Array HKinNY's Avatar
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    IMHO +1 for getting involved

    Pros and Cons

    Con. Maybe eat a little crow after the sandwich for dessert or looking like a jerk in front on two strangers. Heck, do that all the time

    Pro. Might have saved a little girl from years of physical and mental abuse or being murdered. I will take Pro all day long.

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array Pikachu711's Avatar
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    Paymeister, you were right in being concerned on the unusual conversation you overheard. I had to give someone advice on that subject a number of years ago while I was a hotel desk clerk. Here's the "short version" of the conversation between myself & my security guard (SG) in the hotel lobby.

    SG:I just passed room XXX and stopped for a smoke when I heard something funny.
    ME:What do you mean something funny?
    SG:I just passed room XXX when I heard a young girl telling her father something that didn't sound right.
    ME:What room were you passing when you heard this?

    Security told me what room it was & I pulled it up on the computer. He continued:

    SG:The little girl said that "Mommy said that we shouldn't be doing this." The dad replied, "Don't worry about that honey. This is the way everyone shows their love for one another."

    At this point I became VERY concerned!

    SG:This is when I walked away & came to the front desk.

    At this point I told him that he should call the local police & let them deal with what could be a very dangerous situation for the girl. He did that from the lobby courtesy phone.

    Two local LEO's responded to the hotel within 10 minutes. The LEO's asked my security guard what he had overheard. He relayed the comments he told me to the officers. One of the LEO's came to the front desk & requested to know the information on the room in question. Armed with these comments the security guard overheard & the guest info both the LEO's proceeded to the room in question.

    Long story short, the father was the non-custodial parent who abducted his daughter. The father had been accused of sexually molesting his daughter. He had picked up his daughter for his regular visitation in CA and fled to NV. The police took the father into custody & contacted the Mom in California to pick up her daughter.

    Thanks to the conversation my security guard overheard and the involvement of the local LEO's the young girl was reunited with her Mom.

    I'm NOT saying that this was a similiar to the conversation you overheard. But in this case your radar was in good working order. When in doubt, call the local LEO's and let them sort this out.
    "Gun control is being able to hit your target."
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  15. #15
    VIP Member Array gottabkiddin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paymeister View Post
    What should I have done, if anything? Thoughts?

    IMO, ya did what you thought was best for the child's sake. For me, when it comes to a child that involves an adult too, my concern for the adult comes in squarely 2nd. In this day and age, I for one wouldn't blame anyone for trying to make sure another predator doesn't have a chance to hurt another child. I applaud your efforts and am glad there's gentlemen like you out there, god knows there's plenty of BG's to go around and ya never know when one will show up at the local eatery, or school.

    I probably wouldn't have alerted the others to my suspicions but +1 on the pics and the alert status. As far as the father seeing ya taking the pics. If confronted by him I'd let him know why, if he got nasty about it I'd probably apologize for the assumption and try to get over the foul. If he became a freak over it, I'd let him know what my thoughts of the question he purposed to the 13 year old regarding the liquor store in a (open to the public environment) and tell him to back off cause it was a honest mistake with good intentions. If he's a gentleman then that should do it, if he's not, IMO he's crossing the line and he's pressing a bad situation, and we need to call the police after all.

    Again I applaud your alert status and wish there were more of ya out there. As for me personally, I'll opt for the "error on the side of caution" any day over the "I saw it and did nothing". The latter of the two IMO equals, just a step or two above the out there. JMO
    "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." – Luke 22:36

    "If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so." – Thomas Jefferson

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