(Continued from Part 2. This concludes the article.)
Part 3 – Lessons and Observations
Unsurprisingly, I ran the whole episode over in my head quite a few times as the days and weeks went by. Small details that I had forgotten came back. Eventually, I thought it would be worth noting a few things to share with other people:
The biggest takeaway was that things happened unbelievably fast. If my pistol had been in a different room, or been unloaded, or had the chamber empty, or had a manual safety, or was stored without the magazine in it, the outcome would have been quite different. It was fast. No time for a gun safe, gun in another room, racking a slide, manipulating a safety, etc. From busting-in-door to guy-on-the-floor was three seconds…four tops.
You really do have auditory exclusion. I fired three rounds of .40 Hydra-Shock indoors and all I heard was ‘pop’. Also, once The Bad Guy came through the door I don’t recall either of us saying anything. However, the girlfriend says she recalls hearing yelling right up to the point she heard gunshots. If we had been yelling, I don’t remember doing it and I don’t remember hearing it. From what I read, this is a normal thing because you’re extremely focused on the immediate threat.
In my opinion, the video surveillance made a huge difference in my favor…I cannot overstate this. It showed me gesturing for the guy to stay away, it showed me retreating behind the door, it showed him busting through the door. It backed up everything that I told the detectives. All my cameras are outside so there was no video of the shooting that took place inside. A lesson here: Use obvious hand gestures to punctuate what you are saying so that, even without audio, it is clear what message you are giving. If you have a security camera and you don’t have it recording sound, make sure to use hand gestures when you deal with people. I told the guy to not come any closer but that didn’t come out in the video because there was no sound. But, I also held my hand up in a ‘halt’ gesture so the detectives watching the video saw that, yeah, the video jibed with my statement about telling the guy not to come closer.
When I finally got the police and coroner’s reports several months later, I discovered that one HydraShock round was found in The Bad Guy’s jacket. It had not penetrated very far and simply either fell out of him or was dislodged during chest compression. It expanded slightly, but penetrated very little. I’ve read similar reports about HydraShocks and will be switching to a different defense-grade round like the Speer Gold Dots. None of the bullets exited The Bad Guy’s body. The shots were, according to the coroner’s report, in the center chest/sternum area, above the right nipple, and in the mid-abdomen right side. The toxicology report noted a not-unusual level of marijuana in The Bad Guy’s system, but nothing else.
My pistol was sitting on a table by the door in a holster. I was holding the door shut with one hand to keep the bad guy out, but needed two hands to get the gun out of the holster. So there I am, holding the door shut with my right hand to keep bad guy from opening it, and the holstered gun is in my left hand…useless. Gotta let go of door handle to get gun out of holster. When I let go of the door handle so I could get the gun out of the holster, that’s when the guy yanked the door open and lunged inside. Moral of the story: Any pistol kept somewhere needs to be ready to go into action, one-handed, if necessary. That was a b-i-g lesson for me.
No time for sights or a good Weaver stance. Bad guy and I were never more than three or four feet apart. Once my gun was out of the holster, I threw the holster aside and brought the gun up and that’s where I shot from..elbows tucked against my side, pistol at about sternum height. No sights, no need for Crimson Trace, it was three shots from retention, basically.
All that stuff about you not hearing the shots and time slowing down really is true. Time really slows down. When I grabbed the drawer handle to get to my pistol I distinctly recall watching the drawer fall to the floor in slow motion as it cleared the nightstand. Time really did slow down although once the pistol was in hand it resumed its normal speed.
Once I left the house, I was not allowed back in. So, if you can keep a clear head, take your keys, wallet, and anything else you need with you when you go outside — because you will not be allowed back into the ‘crime scene’. I wound up standing in the wet in my slippers because I couldn’t get my shoes. Your phone is going to get taken, so know the phone numbers by heart of the people you may want to contact. Or have it written on a card that you keep in your wallet.
Expect your cell phone to be taken away immediately. I was given the opportunity to text my boss that I wouldn’t be in the next day and then my phone went into a Faraday bag and I didn’t get it back until later.
The cops had to clear the entire house since they couldn’t just take my word for the place being empty (except for the now-dead guy). This means they saw all sorts of ‘survivalist-oriented’ things in my house like guns, ammo, food, fuel, etc. I hate to admit it, but I’d bet there are some unofficial cellphone pics floating around the department of ‘Hey, check out this guy’s basement from that call we got last week’. A lesson here is that you need to store stuff away in your house as if someone is going to be walking through there taking pictures. Discretion is the better part of preparedness.
I spent a total of four hours at the cop shop, half waiting for the interview to start and the other half giving the interview. Once it was done, I never had to give any further statements and never had to go back to the cop shop. I was back in my own house, in my own bed, about four hours later.
I don’t recall, once things got exciting, saying anything to this guy or him saying anything to me once he started punching his way through the door. My girlfriend, however, who was upstairs said she heard yelling right up until the gunshots. I have no recollection of either of us saying anything once he came through the door. Maybe I was so focused that I don’t remember it. Who knows?
You find out who your friends are really fast. I had strangers offering to come by and fix my door and do anything else I needed. My boss offered to pay for any therapy I needed in case our company health plan didn’t cover it.
The pistol was returned to me four months later, after the county attorney’s office did their investigation and decided there was no need to file any charges. Fortunately, I had a spare.
Be prepared for judgment in (social) media. I made it a point to not read the comments section in the various news websites that carried the event. I let someone else read the comments and just report back to me. They told me that, basically, the comments were about 95% supportive. That’s good enough for me, I don’t need more detail than that.
Jokes about shooting people no longer seem funny.
I had trouble sleeping for about a week after….residual cortisol, adrenaline, hormone, etc. dump I’m guessing. After that, never had a problem.
That’s what I learned from surviving a home invasion. I hope that it never happens to you, but I also hope that perhaps these lessons and observations will give you something to think about as you contemplate your own safety and security.