An alert and armed 81 yr old gent, Mr James Stevens, was driving back to his home in central Florida when he noticed a Kia following him. Well done, Mr Stevens. Too many of us barely glance in our mirror and don’t take any notice of who or what is behind us.
In addition, a plain ordinary vehicle like a Kia is something you’re likely to look at then ignore and develop a mental blind spot over. Who ever heard of a bad guy driving a Kia?
The Kia continued to follow Mr Stevens for 20 minutes.
What would you do in such a situation? There is something you should do and something you must not do.
The thing you should do is to second, confirm that the vehicle is following you.
But, before that, the very first thing you need to do is to switch to a heightened state of awareness, and to adopt a defensive driving posture.
The key parts of a defensive driving posture are :
- All doors locked and windows up (you should always have your doors locked anyway, right?).
- Don’t get boxed in – keep out of the middle lane if on a three lane road, and if you have to stop in traffic, leave enough distance between you and the car in front so that you can see the bottom of their rear wheels. That way, if you need to turn out and speed away, you’ll have enough space to do the turn.
- If you have a ‘fender bender’ type accident, don’t get out and don’t stop – it could be a deliberate ploy on the part of the would-be attackers to both disorient you, get you focused on the accident rather than on the unfolding attack, and to cause you to stop and get out of your car in a distracted frame of mind. Slowly keep moving and call 911, then follow their instructions.
- Pistol still holstered – if you place it on the seat ‘ready for action’ it might slide off, but with any snaps released, round in the chamber, cocked, and safety on (modify as necessary for double action and Glock type shooters).
- Getting ahead of things for a minute, but while we think of it : If you subsequently need to leave your vehicle, no matter what the situation, leave your pistol in its holster until you are clear of the car. You need both hands free for exiting the car; if you have your pistol in one hand, something might happen that causes you to drop it (especially with you clumsy from an adrenalin surge, trembling with fear/anticipation, and perhaps under fire/attack. Wait till you’re clear of the car and can switch your focus from ‘getting clear of the car’ to ‘taking care of business’. If you drop your pistol while exiting the car, it could go anywhere, and you then have no gun. Maybe it rolls under the car. You doubly are without your gun then.
Now, on to the second thing. It is easy. Assuming it is safe to do so, and won’t take you into bad parts of town, or onto a country lane with no more intersections for miles, turn right at the next light. Then turn right again as soon as you can. Then turn right again as soon as you can. And, once more, a fourth time (which should get you back the way you were going to start with). If it is safe to do so, by all means drive through red lights as part of this process.
No-one in their right mind does all of that, and your own antics of doing this might discourage the people in the car behind you from pressing on with their villainy against you, whatever it might be they were considering, because you’ve shown yourself as an alert citizen conducting a formal response to being followed. Chances are they’d prefer to go find easier pickings with someone else instead.
Remember – unlike in the movies, the bad guys aren’t hired hit men with a contract to take you out. They are opportunists looking for anyone at all, just so long as the person is an easy mark. When you start acting like this, you clearly show yourself as alert, aware, and using tactics to manage the situation.
If the car is still behind you at that point, there’s a dismayingly good chance that you have a situation on your hands. Maybe they are indeed Mafia hitmen, and maybe they’ve mistaken you for some mob accountant who they’ve been hired to hit. Well, just joking. 🙂 More likely, they’re like Lonnie in this situation we’re discussing here.
As soon as you’ve made it probable that there are bad guys planning bad things behind you, the next thing you must do is call the police for instructions. And the next thing after that is to resist the ‘homing instinct’ – don’t flee to your residence, because you don’t want to bring the bad guys to where you live, do you.
Mr Stevens – the gent in the Florida incident we started talking about above, got things half right. He detoured away from his home. But he got things half wrong. He didn’t call the police – maybe he didn’t have a cell phone with him, perhaps?
He stopped his vehicle, got out of it, and at the same time the Kia also stopped, with 28 yr old career criminal Lonnie Hollingsworth jr getting out of the Kia. He approached Mr Stevens and told his intended victim to give him ‘everything you got’.
An unfortunate choice of words, perhaps? Mr Stevens obliged, but not in the way Hollingsworth expected. Mr Stevens pulled a revolver and shot at Hollingsworth four times, hitting him once in the abdomen, causing Hollingsworth to collapse.
The Two Lessons
In addition to the important points we made above, there are two other matters we’d like to comment on.
First, at what was probably very close range, Mr Stevens only managed to get one of his four shots into Hollingsworth. He was lucky that it was a disabling shot, because if it wasn’t (and statistically it probably would not be disabling), at a rate of one hit per four shots, he’d have been out of bullets (in his six shot revolver) before he got a second round on target.
Mr Stevens is also lucky that Hollingsworth was alone. Again, do the math. You’ve got six shots, it took four to stop the first threat, and now you need to take care of a second threat – with only two remaining bullets?
When did you last see a policeman with a revolver? Folks – while a revolver is better than no gun at all, a nice reliable semi-auto with a dozen or more rounds in its magazine, and a spare magazine or two with you also, is what you need to have with you.
Second, read in the article what it discloses about Hollingsworth’s priors. They include a charge that was subsequently dropped of wearing a bulletproof vest in the commission of an attempted crime. Our guess is the charge was dropped not because he didn’t have a vest on, but because of a plea bargain, or perhaps because it was too difficult to prove he was attempting a crime at the time.
How about that, huh? A criminal who went out and bought himself a bullet proof vest. What a good job for Mr Stevens that Hollingsworth wasn’t wearing it during their encounter! He’d have been out of ammo long before realizing that his shots weren’t stopping the attacker and shifting his aim to the unprotected head – a much more difficult shot to take/make.
Criminals are indeed criminals, and maybe yes they are stupid in many ways too. But learn from this. Here’s a case of a criminal who doesn’t look like his other job in Florida was as a rocket scientist at Cape Canaveral; but he outfitted himself with a bullet proof vest. You need to assume, in your tactical analysis of any situation you find yourself in, that the bad guy is experienced and may well have better gear than you, to say nothing of more experience at doing what he’s about to do. Chances are it is your first ever violent assault; but the chances are it is his tenth or maybe even his one hundredth.
You need to train, train, train, and to do so regularly, to allow you to get close to even odds in such scenarios.