Open Carry (of a long gun) saves citizen during Hurricane Ike
Posted on October 4, 2008
Hello all -- Sorry to post these stories much later than they occurred, but things have been crazy around here (Houston), what with Hurricane Ike knocking out power and telephones (to say the least).
On Friday night (the night of the hurricane) I stopped by a neighboring apartment complex a couple of blocks away to check on two of my new friends. It was about 10PM and the winds had already picked up quite a bit and it was spitting rain in bursts. Pretty much all businesses had been closed and shuttered since noon the day before in preparation for the storm, so there was no one out (besides me). I don't consider my neighborhood (Montrose) to be too sketchy, but I always have at least my knife on me. I've lived in my current home for almost a decade without having any serious problems.
I meet up with my friends, and they decide they're going to step out from the hallway to the stoop of the apartment building to smoke a cigarette and I join them to keep chatting while the storm rolls in. While we're standing there under the front lights, a somewhat clean-cut guy in his early 40's, white, 5'10"-ish, with short salt-n-pepper hair, no beard or moustache, thin but with a pot-belly, and wearing a dark blue shirt walks up to us, and the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Something isn't right. He asks if he can use the phone to call for a ride, and my friend (bless her poor, trusting, heart) gets out her cell-phone before I can tell him to bug off. He gives her a (disconnected) number to call, and then launches into a long rambling story about nothing and everything, and it shortly becomes very clear to the three of us that this guy is off his rocker and certainly ate way too much acid back in the day, however the stories are funny enough to keep my two friends from telling him to leave their property. Then he tells us how he got out of prison recently and doesn't have anywhere to go to sit out the hurricane and asks for money several times (mind you, if this wasn't sketchy enough on its own, remember that it's the night of the hurricane and there isn't an establishment within miles that's open for business). I have my knife in-hand and locked open but have it concealed by my side, and I'm anxiously wishing both that I had a gun, and that this dude was *not* two feet away from the three of us.
I'm not really paying attention to conversation but this crackhead eventually comes around to say that "this hurricane is what we [Houstonians?] get for helping out all them [racial expletive deleted] in N'Orleans." Aside from the disgusting racism, one of my two friends standing there in front of him is black. Things escalate quickly.
White Crackhead Dude reaches into his pocket, and I immediately yell "freeze or you're dead" as I hold my knife on his belly with my right hand, and hand grab his wrist with my left. I see metal in his hand that was coming out of his pocket, but I'm not yet sure if it's a knife, mace, or a gun. More yelling I don't remember. I tell friend #1 to call 911. I tell Crackhead to let go of his weapon and slowly pull his hand out of his pocket. There's an instant of time in which I'm not sure who's going to get stabbed, and then I can feel his wrist loosen slightly. I tell friend #2 to remove Crackhead's weapon (a knife). Lots of blah blah blah. I'm freaking out. I tell him to turn around very, very slowly and walk away. (The call to 911 never connects). My friends and I retreat into the hallway, lock the front door, and hyperventilate. For a split second either one or all of us was about to get shanked, or I was going to spill this guy's guts, but luckily he froze just long enough to reconsider, and the cops (whenever they might actually show up) didn't have to mop up anyone. I'm feeling faint and nauseous.
Part 2: Saturday night (after the hurricane -- now without *any* electricity for miles and little-to-no functional cell phone service, much less a *reachable* 911).
I'm extremely on-edge. Destruction is rampant, and no one can get news without power. I've managed to check up on a few friends and have spent the daylight trying to clear downed trees. It's now night, and it's extremely dark for miles around due to a complete lack of any working lights. I've been armed continuously ever since I returned to my apartment, and have decided to spend the night barricaded at home until daylight breaks. I'm reading a book by candlelight for a couple of hours, and have managed to develop a skull-splitting headache but I manage to ignore it until I'm feeling sick and happen to look up and realize that my apartment is full of smoke. I *never* ever get headaches, and so I realize that I was slowly giving myself carbon monoxide poisoning. I have to get out before I'm too weak to get up.
I open my (second story) window, sling my rifle over my shoulder, and walk out to sit on the front steps to get some fresh air in my lungs. In about fifteen minutes or so, I begin to feel a little less sick. It's dead silent out, which is almost just as creepy (in my normally busy-at-all-hours neighborhood) as the absolute darkness. Suddenly I hear the smash of a glass bottle a hundred feet away, and my mind goes on overdrive. Someone else is out there. I stand up, check my surroundings, and grip the stock of my rifle with my right hand but I don't raise it. Ever since the previous night, all my weapons have been loaded, chambered, with any safeties off. As I'm standing up, I see a short dark figure walking --almost running-- very quickly and quietly, towards me at my ten o'clock with what appears to be a bat from thirty feet away.
He yells "I'm'a gonna git you, looter!" and I yell back, "Stay back [expletive deleted], I live here!" He's still coming up quick and I realize that this guy (thin, 5'6"-ish, white?) has both of his hands on a **SWORD**, not a bat, and he's got it raised and ready to swing. He yells again "You lootin'!" and at this point I turn to the side a little bit and as soon as he sees the rifle and me starting to raise it off its sling he stops short (only eight feet away) and sputters out "woah, you're okay, you're okay." (I'm thinking, "damned right I'm okay!" but I don't say it). I then catch a breeze and notice that this guy is either hammered-drunk or he just likes to bathe in licquor. We're standing there five feet away from each other (he's pointed the sword downward, I've got the rifle in both hands, finger on the trigger, but pointed at the ground) and he starts to ramble and prove to me that he's intoxicated by telling me how he's "patrolling Montrose, keeping the neighborhood safe ..." but I never take my eyes off the point of that sword, just waiting for it to twitch upward. He tells me "[his] name is Jimmy and he's from the Dept. of Homeland Security" (I swear, I couldn't make this up if I tried)! and I'm trying to really keep my cool since I know this guy is obviously not thinking clearly, so I somehow manage to not laugh (mostly because I'm *living* in condition red, and there's no room for humor). He keeps wanting to shake my hand since "we're buddies" now, but I tell him I'd rather not since he's got a sword in his hands. I can tell he's starting to get agitated again so holding the rifle in my right hand I stretch out (not taking a step closer) and bump fists with my left hand for an instant before retreating again. I manage to convince him that "Jimmy, how about this -- you watch that side of the street, and I'll make sure this side of the street is okay, cool?" That's agreed on, and as soon as he's back outside of striking range I retreat around the corner of my apartment building and into my unit, bolting and barricading the door.
Candles and reading be hanged, I'm staying inside, even if it's in absolute darkness. By the way, once again my calls to 911 to inform them that there's a crazy short white drunk vigilante running around Montrose with a sword in his hand do not go through.
And that makes for sleepless night number two.
All said and done, I'm really really disgusted at humanity right now, and this has really messed with my head -- to think that twice I was an instant away from killing/injuring or being killed/injured. I didn't even pull the trigger and I'm jumpy and nervous and emotionally distraught every evening since then (almost two weeks later).
In the days that followed, I managed to talk to a few police officers that I saw during the day, and told them about both encounters, but none seemed the least bit surprised nor particularly interested in the details, except to remind me that mayor had decided to institute a curfew (as if that solved anything).
I spoke with my father, (a lawyer) about the experiences, and he confirmed that I would have been fully justified in using lethal force, but that the legal fallout would have likely been really awful as well (not to discount the greater psychological impact of *actually* having injured or killed a creep).
I guess one of the things that's really got me upset about this whole thing is this: I know that the frequency of attacks are fairly uncommon at the individual level, and I know that disaster makes unstable people bad, and give bad people more opportunity but I don't really care about that. Whether the statistics are that 1% or 0.001% of people will get attacked in any given situation or environment doesn't matter. I was that ".001%". Twice in two nights. Both times the bad guy was within striking distance in an instant, both were fairly normal looking guys on any other day, and both times my reaction time, a weapon, and a split-second decision on the part of the bad-guy were all that kept one of us from getting opened up.
I don't think I'll ever feel comfortable or relaxed unarmed again. Hell, I was recently in hippy-dippy peace-lovin' Berkeley, CA visiting my girlfriend and the morning after I arrived her roommate burst through the front door to tell us that on the way back from the grocery store around the corner he'd come across a crime scene a block away from my girlfriend's apartment where some guy had *just* gotten shot (in Berkeley of all places).
There are a few consistently decent through-and-through humans out there, but the world is a scary ugly place. Firearms are no longer a hobby for me.