Lessons Learned From My Good Samaritan Attempt

Editor’s note: I met Aaron over the Internet just a day or two after his initial Good Samaritan incident and spoke with him at length about it at that time. We kept in touch and he has since become a student and a friend. I’ve followed the developments and the evolution of his thoughts on his decision to act and how he acted on that day very closely. While it is only one example, I believe it to be a great example to study for anyone who carries a defensive firearm in public. I greatly appreciate Aaron’s willingness to share his thoughts so others may learn from his experiences. — Rob Pincus

Driving to the movies on December 26, 2014, I never in a million years envisioned needing to draw my defensive firearm. All the defensive firearm usage scenarios I had envisioned revolved around things like home invasion, carjacking, bank robbery, and spree shooting events. All my previous firearms training revolved around identifying an imminent threat, shooting to stop the threat if necessary, and then hopefully moving on with my life. It was all a pretty simple equation in my mind. However, the reality of my incident that day after Christmas was far different. It was not a simple equation. It was quite complex and has taken over two years to resolve.

Should You Use Your Self Defense Guns to Defend a Stranger?

Bystander made a cell-phone video of a portion of the incident. Image taken from cbsdfw.com.

The Incident

The basic details of my incident are as follows. I was driving with my wife to see a movie when I saw a man brutally assaulting a woman in the front seat of a vehicle on the side of the road in broad daylight. The best way I can describe it is that it looked like he was utilizing MMA “ground and pound” type moves on this defenseless female. When I spotted the incident, I had my wife stop the car and call 911 as I came around the car, drew my defensive handgun, and ordered the man to stop hitting the woman and lie on the ground. I communicated to him that I was going to keep my trigger finger indexed and would not shoot him if he obeyed my commands. Fortunately, he complied and I was able to hold him at gunpoint until the police arrived. When the police arrived, I was handcuffed and briefly detained while they secured the scene. I was subsequently released and my firearm was returned to me at the scene. You can find an archived copy of the news report video and a previous PDN article.

While everything since the incident has played out in a relatively positive manner in that nobody was killed, I was cleared, and the bad guy was finally tried and convicted (after two years), there are still a number of lessons learned that are worth sharing. My life and my outlook on personal defense have changed as a result of this incident, and I want to share the details of why and how so the next guy can learn from my experience.


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Media Coverage

Let me start with some impacts closer to home. The first one relates to media coverage of the incident. At the time of the incident, a portion of the interaction was caught on cell phone video by a passerby, and that video was shared with the local news. My car and license plate were visible in the video, so within a few hours I was identified by the news media. The following morning, the local news van was at my house. I agreed to be interviewed because they were doing a story regardless, and I wanted to impact the narrative. I talked to a few folks in the firearms community because I felt there might be some solid talking points and an educational benefit. From my perspective, it was an opportunity to promote positive firearms use and the need for quality training. I try to advocate for both whenever possible.

But I never envisioned how my name would live on forever within the realms of the internet. This leads to the first lesson learned. Over the course of the past two years, I know for a fact that I have been passed over for contracts and employment opportunities because of this incident. Prior to this, you would Google me and get a few pages of professional references, all good. Now a Google search results in a few pages addressing the incident, and these things can be interpreted negatively by potential employers. I have had HR managers say, “You are highly qualified and everyone likes you, but we do not care to have this kind of exposure.” So the first takeaway is to remember that what you do and say in this age of cell-phone videos and media will be online forever. Thankfully, I currently work for a company that isn’t put off by the “exposure” that comes with employing me.

aaron-kreag

Interview conducted by local CBS affiliate after the incident. Image taken from cbsdfw.com.

Mental and Emotional Stress

The second lesson learned comes from a more mental and emotional perspective. The incident has led to some lost sleep, huge amounts of stress, personal time off work, and stress for my wife and kids. It has also caused stress for my employer, both the one I had at the time and my current one with the time I have had to take off work for court dates and meetings with attorneys. My family and I have taken an increased security posture at home and when in the public space in case anyone recognizes me. I’ll be honest: I thought, and continue to think in the back of my mind, that the attacker could try to retaliate. It’s a strange feeling when people are slowly rolling past your house after an incident like this. My lack of sleep quickly got worse and my health was negatively impacted as a result. Ripple effects of the incident are everywhere, and I never considered that aspect of it in my prior training, because everything focused on surviving the encounter, not the aftermath. Keep in mind, I didn’t even have to fire a shot! I can’t imagine how these problems would manifest themselves if I had been forced to take a human life.

Legal Aftermath

The third lesson has to do with the legal aftermath. While my interaction with the local police and county officials was overwhelmingly positive, I think I lucked out a bit. This happened in a conservative area with more of a gun culture than exists in other parts of the country. I think had I been in Chicago, my world would have been much more negatively impacted. One of the things I did not have at the time was legal support. Yes, I had an attorney on standby, but I didn’t have one to help me navigate all the interviews, meetings, calls and emails, court hearings, etc. There was a solid amount of stress and fear of the unknown in that regard. This isn’t anything I seriously considered prior to the event. I have since enrolled my household in a legal program. I encourage every armed citizen to do the same. These legal proceedings can get complicated and confusing very quickly, and you don’t want to be on your own.

What I’d Do Differently

Lastly, with two years gone by, there is ample time to Monday morning quarterback this whole ordeal. Here are some things I would do differently if I had it to do over again.

indoor range practice

This encounter did not end with shots fired, but the repercussions were wide-ranging nonetheless. Photo: author

1. When I came out of the holster and presented the firearm, I initially did have my finger lightly touching the trigger. I did move to index shortly after shouting commands at the threat. In hindsight, I have no explanation as to why. In my mind, that was a screw up. I think that in the stress of the ordeal, this thing that we train to do over and over was somehow lost. In court during the trial, the defense attorney really chewed this up. He tried to portray me as an adrenaline junkie, a vigilante, and incompetent. This was a very, very uncomfortable and humbling experience. You do not want to be there. And this occurred when I was testifying at the perpetrator’s trial for domestic violence assault with injury. I was never charged with any offense.

2. I would have established better control of the scene. I would command the threat to exit, maybe turn around and go to his knees with his hands up. Basically, I wish I would have given more deliberate commands. I’m not sure why I was yelling at him to “get on the ground.” I suppose I watched too many COPS episodes as a kid. This is something I never trained on, so it’s worth considering how to issue good verbal commands as part of your training program.

3. I would have asked the victim to exit the car and move around the rear and be intercepted by my wife and taken to a safer place. I did not. While she was not directly in my potential line of fire, I think I could have done much better. The threat could have easily jumped back in the car and driven off with the victim.

4. I would have had some type of recording myself. I can’t say how much easier all of this would have been if I had a full video of everything. I know a lot of people say to call the police and get off your phone but honestly, had there been a way to do both things, I would have been much better off. In fact, the victim, having become uncooperative and changing her tune since the incident, testified in court that my wife and I had made up the assault. If there ever is a next time, my wife will be rolling video and on speaker phone with 911.

good-samaritan-on-the-news

911 calls from witnesses gave wildly varying accounts of what was occurring. Image taken from cbsdfw.com.

5. The trial was the first time that all the 911 calls were played. Wow! This was one of the craziest things: There were so many different angles and so many different perceptions of what was going on. Someone who called in reported I was carjacking the guy. My wife told me she told the dispatcher that her husband was the guy with the gun, etc. The 911 tape revealed that she never said that. She told the dispatcher that a guy was beating the crap out of a lady but she never relayed my information, my description, or the fact that I had my firearm pointed at the guy! Obviously I love my wife, but this was a huge learning opportunity for both of us. Everyone should learn how to be a good witness and make solid 911 calls, which is easier said than done under stress.

6. Police reports. I used to be a paramedic, so writing narrative reports should be my specialty. I was given one page for my narrative, and I did my best to explain what happened. But I should have asked for two to three pages and taken more time to write a more detailed report, and probably not until I’d had time to speak with an attorney. That written statement was gone through over and over and over in the legal proceedings. Your recorded statement is the one thing that is held up in the “your word vs. his word” scenario. I think I did a good enough job, but in hindsight, it could have been better, and I wish I had been more detailed.

7. Police audio and video. Police officers all have cameras and microphones, and everything they see and hear is recorded and played in court. I did an ok job there, but it did not occur to me that this was happening or that these recordings would be played in court.

8. I was interviewed at the police station, in the concrete room with stainless steel furniture. I should have had an attorney with me for this. Fortunately, it worked out. I navigated this process and it was all good, but in hindsight, I really should have had an attorney with me. Now I have taken steps to make sure that if there ever is a next time, I will have the legal help I need.

range training

In the aftermath of the incident, I was questioned about the amount of time I spend on the range. Photo: Aaron Israel

9. During this process, questions were asked about my life, my background, training, and experience. At one point, I was asked about the number of hours I had on the range, number of rounds fired in training, etc. I didn’t even fire my weapon! Imagine for a moment how important those details would have been if I had used deadly force!

My point is, everything you do, say, or have ever done will be subject to some kind of review or question. You have to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the fall out. After experiencing this, I don’t know if I would have been prepared for the ramifications of an actual shooting incident.

Would I Do It Again?

People often ask if I would do it again. At the time of the incident when I decided to intervene, I believed sincerely, with 100% of my being, that this guy was intent on killing the lady. My wife concurred. But in hindsight, after everything we have gone through — the stress, the loss, the emotional burden, the victim who turned on us, the lost hours, lost wages, the interrogations, and the exposure — I am today left feeling that the bar has been raised. The threshold for me to personally expose myself like that has gone up. Trust me, if we are out having ice cream and an armed guy in a mask plows through the door, I will act. If your wife is being raped, I will act. If my family is threatened, I will act. At my core, I am still a servant. I am still my brother’s keeper, and I might not be able to live with myself if I neglect an opportunity to help a friend. I will continue to train, grow, and evolve as an armed citizen, and I will continue to follow the commandment to “love thy neighbor.” But damn. I now pray I will never be placed in that position again. You should too.

Discussion
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86 Responses to “Lessons Learned From My Good Samaritan Attempt”
  1. Evan Carson

    Thanks for sharing Aaron, it is a great story, and I am glad you were willing to share your lessons learned with us so that we can hopefully learn from it.

    Reply
  2. MD

    Really informative. Glad it worked out for you in the end. Thank you very much for sharing.

    Reply
    • Teri

      Remember the “Peter Parker conundrum” if you could act but don’t, it may be your loved one next due to your policy of not getting involved.

      Reply
      • Allen

        Teri, it seems like the point of this article is that we should all put some thought into what we would do in circumstances like this. We should know what risks we are willing to take to defend someone we don’t know (and who may not want to be defended). The risk is that Aaron could have been killed, or more likely jailed, leaving his own family without him.

        Reply
  3. Dan Mackey

    Aaron, am glad that all worked out for you in the end. As you said, it could have been much worse. Thank you for taking the time to share your story, as well as the information you so carefully prepared and shared. With your permission I will pass this entire article along to others so they can become aware of some of the legal pitfalls you were able to negotiate. The is an area that should probably be covered extensively in the CCW training classes so people are a little more prepared for the “real” world experiences that you discovered. Stay Safe and best regards.

    Reply
  4. Roy Payne

    My brother-in-law was an L.A. City cop for many years. He often said that the most dangerous calls he went on were domestic disturbance and often, the danger came from the wife/girlfriend who made the 911 call. As soon as law enforcement began to take hold of the perpetrator, the woman would often become agitated and begin the try to get the officers to stop. He had more than one jump on his back in an attempt to pull him off of her husband and one attacked him with a butcher knife. So, I’m not surprised that this woman changed her testimony. Abused women often feel that it is somehow their fault and regret getting their man in trouble with the police.

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    • Ken

      Roy, your brother-in-law is very right. I have been a volunteer with LEO’s since I was 16, but the thing I remember most was meeting a Houston area LEO who ha lost his partner to a domestic violence call. I was 15 and for some reason he talked to me about it. It was one of the most valuable lessons I have learned. Since I became a LTC instructor it is one of the most important lessons I try to pass on to students. If you are going to help someone outside of your immediate family and friends, you must know as much as you can about the situation and who is involved on what side, victim or assailant, husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend, or strangers to each other. All of this requires lots of voice commands and questions, and sometimes, heaven forbid, an actual overt action from them. Even then as a private citizen, you can make mistakes. I run all of my students through scenarios both visual and verbal and then ask what they would do, then point out where they were right or wrong and what ‘could’ be done to protect themselves as well as protecting the victim. The more training you can get, not only in reaction and firearm use, but from psychology and human behavior, the better your chances of coming out of a situation like this in lot better position. Also, when I used a cassette recorder for taking notes way back in the dark ages of school, I used it to record any confrontation I ever got in. Good luck and may God bless you with never having to make a choice as tough as Arron had to make. @Arron thank you for sharing this, it is a very, very valuable lesson to teach people.

      Reply
  5. Keith

    Great story Aaron and thanks for sharing your story. I personally am very aware of the area of Northlake. I, myself live in Arlington, TX. I think your story is a valuable lesson to all of us who carry on a daily basis. As you stated, none of your previous training involved a situation such as this. Things could have definitely escalated to a totally different scenario, but thankfully it did not. We all have our very own reasons as to why we choose to carry. I know if I was in your place, it would be very hard to not 2nd guess myself in the same situation. A very valuable learning experience for not only you, but all of us who choose to follow our 2nd amendment right. Major props to you sir.

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  6. William Moody

    When I was young, my father, a former Marine and a man like yourself that is his brother’s keeper, went to help a neighbor lady in a domestic dispute (her husband was beating her up) and was immediately jumped on by BOTH of them. He said “never again unless imminent death was present. You did right but society let you down.

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  7. Amy

    One insight I might have about the woman you rescued….She could’ve had Stockholm Syndrome. To be expected when the person being assaulted it bonded to her abuser. They can also be dangerous to you during a rescue attempt. Something to think about.

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  8. Vince Cluxton

    Thanks very much for sharing, Aaron. I haven’t had this type of situation arise and hope I don’t. But I think about what I would do. I would likely intervene as you did. My concealed carry training has said this type of intervention, when my life is not immediately in danger, can lead to big time legal problems and possible jail time or civil trials. I hope everyone here can have a open discussion without telling me that I am a bad person for not thinking more of the victim you saw being attacked than how it would affect me and my life.

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  9. Col BullSigh

    Aaron–Being a Marine who, even with all the training and preparation, hopes to never be required to take a life in battle, I can empathize with your comment: “… I now pray I will never be placed in that position again.” Thank you for having compassion on the victim, even though you probably knew in the back of your mind, that she would have “Stockholm Syndrome” and defend her abuser.
    That was a really well-written article. Thank you for your insight.

    Reply
  10. Bridget Paul

    Wow, Great information Aaron- So sorry you and your family had to endure the aftermath. no good deed….right? I will not soon forget the lessons learned here. Thank you.

    Reply
  11. Barry Graham

    The FIRST Rule of Gunfighting (for civilians) is Mind Your Own Business. For all you know she deserved an even worse beating than she was getting. Anyway, an other person making a poor ‘relationship’ choice is not your concern. You could however, note the tag number and description of their car and notify 911. Which brings us to the Second Rule of Gunfighting – Unless you personally are being attacked, knowing the full ‘backstory’ involving other people is unlikely or impossible. So, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS. My recommendation to any civilian interested in carrying a firearm: 1) Take a lesson in safe firearms handling. 2) Take a lesson in marksmanship. 3) Take a lesson in The Law and Deadly Force. 4) Choose a bullet size and weight that you would want to launch at an adversary that was trying to ‘take’ you. 5) Choose a firearm that fits you, with which to launch that bullet…. After that it gets complicated.

    Reply
    • Ben Smith

      “For all you know she deserved an even worse beating than she was getting.” – Are you serious?

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    • Stan Koehne

      Barry, apparently your dad did not teach you that a woman should NEVER be hit.
      Secondly, if the author had “minded his business”, the victim may be dead or seriously injured now.
      He did the right thing, but you obviously don’t have the intestinal fortitude to do the same.
      I do agree that people should mind their own business, but there are always exceptions to that rule, and you know that or should know that.
      You come off like a guy who thinks he is a “gunfighter”.
      What the heck do you know about gun fighting?
      This is not the 1800s Barry, and I am glad it’s not.
      Mind your own business Barry.

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      • Barry Graham

        Stan, there are reasons for people to Mind Their Own Business. Your dad, it seems from your remarks was naive. The apple is right there beside the tree. There are graveyards full of every heroic smart-alec, know-it-all who wanted to save a damsel in distress. I’ll be merrily on my way while you are defending a woman you don’t know. Worse yet, in today’s world she may have a dick bigger than you and me together.

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    • FT

      How would you feel if someone you loved was being beaten and everyone just did what you say, just ignore it?
      You not much of a man in y book.

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    • Doug Smith

      Good advice. Our instructors taught us S.E.P. Never Start. Escalate. or Prolong.a situation.

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    • Jack

      I think readers would benefit from your insight into what the girlfriend could have done to deserve “an even worse beating”. I know that personally, I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to hear!

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    • Curtis

      Don’t you think most people here are interested and looking for training information? If someone witnessed a beating of your daughter, wife or mom would you want them to stop it or just let the beating continue??? Come of your throne and into reality that people can help others in this world and it doesn’t always involve a gun either.

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    • Gary

      I tend to agree with you. I would not even draw my gun unless yelling “Stop” and maybe whacking the guy with a stick (after calling 911) caused him to turn on me. Introducing deadly force to a non-deadly situation is a very risky thing to do. Thank you for sharing your story!

      Reply
  12. Brian A

    Thank you for having the courage to not only incident but to share the details of the entire event.

    Reply
  13. NWGlocker

    Real eye-opener, humbling and a good window to the world that a lot of people refuse to see, or even think about. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Reply
  14. Mike Bryant

    On one hand, one could come away from this by questioning the wisdom of carrying a firearm at all.

    On the other hand, if 95% of genuinely defensive armed participants are ultimately seen by law enforcement officers and officers of the court to be responsible, well-trained, practiced carriers, then attitudes toward who choose to act may change.

    It would be interesting to see the effect on “concealed carry” or defensive pistol students if they were required to STUDY (not just read) Aaron’s story BEFORE starting their training. I am confident that motivation and mindset would be enhanced. In addition, such students would be inclined to pursue advanced training.

    Reply
  15. Ken

    Aaron, an excellent recap of your experience. Some time ago I contacted one of the foremost defense attorneys in the Country to send him the appeals court decision on an unusual case. This was his reply:
    “Thanks Ken. I’ve saved the article in my criminal defense file, just in case. Fortunately, in the self-defense cases I handle, the question isn’t “who dunnit?”, but rather whether the defendant’s actions were justified on the grounds of self-defense.”
    I had also asked him about a company that sells concealed carry self-defense (insurance?). Sounds like you also decided to obtain access to immediate representation in case of encountering another unwanted event. You are correct that being in a clear-thinking legal environment at the time was a help. Thanks for a well-written report.

    Reply
  16. John K

    One basic rule – NEVER talk to the news people!

    They ALWAYS have an agenda, an it NEVER coincides with yours.

    To talk to them because you want to “impact the narrative” is a complete mistake.

    They will take anything you say and edit it to suit their story.

    The only thing you can say that they cannot use is “No Comment!”

    And your edited comments will also be used in court – you will have no way to prove that the news people’s edits are not what you said, or what you meant.

    DO NOT talk to the news media!

    Reply
  17. John K

    Why did my previous comment get rejected.

    It contained very cogent and worthwhile advice, with no personal points or bad language.

    What gives?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, John. Our apologies for any misunderstanding, but your comment was not rejected.

      Reply
  18. Bob Weisz

    I was in law enforcement for 34 years. You were lucky to do as well as you did. We were trained off duty to be a good witness. We were told how we are lacking the tools that we have on duty. When the officers arrive at the scene, they have no idea who the good guys are. If that incident had gone south, you could have been deeper than you are trained to get out of. I am glad you had an actual good ending, you were very lucky. Like the guy above said, “not my circus, not my monkeys”. He is right. Make the call, keep a safe distance away, and wait for the calvary to arrive.

    Reply
    • Pepe

      As a former Marine & father of 5 daughters I cannot agree with your “not my circus not my monkeys”. Yes in most domestic situations the victim will turn and side with the partner. Had a similar situation on the road where a guy had a young lady pinned down on the bench seat of a pickup and was punching her in the face…pulled a U turn and thank God a car of fellow Marines stopped and we held the guy until the police arrived. Your sobering account makes me realize how lucky I was in that I didn’t have to put hands on the guy or pull my weapon. And when all was said and done the young lady didn’t want to press charges and stated it was all a misunderstanding and all her fault…Godspeed to all you good Samaritans out there.

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  19. Steve

    A very sobering account, many thanks for sharing. Will change my future behavior from intervening as you did to calling 911 and letting LEO deal with it.

    Reply
  20. don khun

    you did the rite thing in your heart but when you said the police arrested you even for a short time will make a lot of people stop and think before they act, than it could be to late

    Reply
  21. Richard

    Thanks Aaron for sharing your experience. Glad it worked out Ok. Appreciate you being willing to identify the glitches in the legal system that makes you or me have second thoughts about intervention.

    Reply
  22. Neal Christensen

    I recall a conversation at work where a woman I knew said, in all seriousness, “I couldn’t respect a man who didn’t beat me once in a while.” This sounds like the “victim” Aaron rescued, and she has probably been beaten since by the same guy.

    Reply
  23. Terry T

    Thanks for this very insightful article. It addresses precisely the sort of unexpected consequences which so often remain unaddressed in training,even for those of us who have been carrying a concealed firearm in public for many years. I do have one comment about one of the hindsight conclusions the defender arrived at after the incident and it is this. It is precisely because the victim herself could have turned on her defender that she could also have turned on the wife who may have attempted to lead her to safety. I would say that unless the wife is actually involved in the incident or is a trained professional, such as a police officer or firefighter, for her own safety she should not become involved in any way unless there is imminent danger of death to the victim. We all would hope defend against any further danger or suffering on the part of the victim but the price for that effort in this case could come at a very high price if things suddenly go wrong.

    Reply
  24. Charles Hatch

    Hesitation, Hesitation…, seconds can cost you your life… and/or change forever so many peoples lives. So how does one, or where does one start – If at all? If it is you, You have to know yourself, and you have to know and understand the environment in which you find yourself… Thank you, Aaron, for your observations and excellent explanations. As I see it, and considering your hindsight, I have changed considerably how I originally thought I might react given your position… HAD I BEEN IN YOUR SITUATION, I SEE TOO MANY UNKNOWS… AND I’DA GOTT’N THE HELL OUT THERE….

    Both my wife and I have permits to carry… We are well aware of the responsibilities to own and carry… but it (the responsibility} is something we continuously worry about… BUT THIS IS HOW WE SEE IT. We don’t believe you can accept additional responsibility without taking additional RISK… Here is one big advantage that the “Good Samaritan” has not included in his summary… It’s called, “PIECE OF MIND”! You see, we live in a resort area … at the shore… there is nobody around, within blocks of our home during the winter… it’s amazing how comfortable we feel today – home alone – just us and our weapons… It used to be we were very uncomfortable when we only had a stick with which to protect ourselves… Today… if I hear a noice outside… I don’t care anymore!!! Go Ahead, Make my DAy…Whereas, before anybody could have come into our home… tied us up… and there we would be for weeks or months or more… waiting to be found… I didn’t like that thought at all. BUT I DO AGREE GREATER TIME SHOULD BE SPENT IN THE CLASS ROOM REF. THE Points brought out by Aaron.

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  25. Dave

    Agreed, thanks for sharing Aaron. Too bad “shall not be infringed” has been reduced to words on paper signifying nothing. The “Mind your own business” comment is made valid by the loss of meaning attached to yesterday’s words–especially the meaning of “shall” replacing “will.” To our Founders, “shall” in its context is a command.

    Reply
  26. Sinjin

    Thank you very much for this information. For what it’s worth, I appreciate what you did for that woman. And thank you to you and your family for sharing this story and reminding us of what can happen in an incident such as yours.

    Reply
  27. Jenette

    I remember reading a bit about this situation on Gun Owners of America a year or so back, I’m grateful for the chance to finally read the “real story” here as it were.

    It’s a solid reminder for anyone that carries a self defense weapon to have some kind of legal insurance coverage (ACLDN, or whatever) even if they doubt they’ll ever need it. The money spent can be a literal life saver should you wind up forced to use your firearm in defense of yourself or another.

    Beyond that, does anyone know if results would have been different if he used a tazer to threaten the agressor with instead of a firearm? I’ve read several articles of the years advocating carrying a tazer weapon in addition to a firearm so that you have a less-than-lethal option available for situations where lethal force is an undesirable option to resolve the situation you’re faced with. (The old adage about when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail springs to mind.)

    Reply
    • Kris

      I agree, it really does help to know “the rest of the story”. Also agreed, the self-defense insurance I have from USCCA is a huge relief to me and my husband. Renewing it is a top priority for me every year. Their card with instructions to me [on how to conduct myself after an incident] is ALWAYS in my pocket with my CCP and driver’s license, and I review it from time to time.

      As for tazers, the law regarding those can vary from one state or even one city to another; what we’re allowed to use in one place can change with just a few miles. It is attractive to have less-than-lethal options; but there’s only so much room on one’s belt, and every alternative has both benefits and drawbacks. (disclaimer: I am not a cop, nor do I portray one on TV.) A Tazer, if I understand correctly, is not supposed to be used above the shoulders; what if you fire it at the very second the attacker moves, and he is snagged in the neck? his lawyer will have fun using that against you… A tazer’s prongs might not penetrate thicker clothing. A tazer is no good if it wasn’t charged before being deployed. A Bad Guy who is all stoked-up on meth etc may not notice the tazer at all…… but pepper spray can affect all involved, the victim and helper in addition to the attacker(s). There just is no easy solution, and every situation is different — 2 points I hope a defense attorney would make clear on our behalf “afterwards”, if there is an event.

      I also want a less-than-lethal option; since I am not trained for a Tazer, I might carry a [legal !] knife also, and in a pinch my six-inch-long metal “keychain” could help, though I really only bought it to use in breaking a window if that was really needed!

      Being female is both an advantage and a disadvantage; more of the latter, IMHO. A Bad Guy may not see me as being as much of a threat as a man, but he also might not respect my verbal commands. I’m older & don’t have the strength that even a younger woman has, so the less-than-lethal options I might prefer, actually put ME in greater danger than the use of a firearm — since I have to get closer to the attacker before I can use them.

      Some others in this thread have pointed out that we as “involved bystanders” don’t really know the details of the event. We may not really know for sure who is the victim. I hope the people would be able to hear questions and reply (auditory exclusion and simple emotional overload can make communication hard!), but we just don’t know.

      I will say, while I can understand the deep hurt and feeling of being betrayed when a victim turns on a rescuer…… please, fellow sheepdogs, try to help anyways. Do what you can — and it might not always end up being the same thing — but please do something. As I said, I am older; I cannot fight off an attacker & I can’t even outrun one any more. My [grown] daughter has had a number of concussions/TBIs, mainly due to sports but some due to attacks; in the time it takes for a bystander to call 911 and wait for help, compared to the time it might take to just step in and stop an attack on her, her brain could finally be damaged beyond healing. I know bystanders have no way to know this; I only mention it to point out that sometimes there isn’t all that much time for the victim to wait for help. As an EMT I am taught to ask if I can help the patient/victim. After reading this Good Guy’s story, now I’m re-thinking the advisability of detaining an attacker for police. Maybe just intervening so the victim has a chance, is better. Any input from others is welcome.

      Reply
  28. Jon

    Aaron I’m sorry you had go through this ordeal but you come out a better educated man. I want to thank you for bringing up the “Aftermath”, something I tell people about all the time. This is a reality that is seldom brought up in many firearms training classes and not to the extent you have taken it to in your story. It should be! The Aftermath of an event like yours seems to be the standard when events like this take place…the good guy becomes the bad guy kind of thing. It’s ridiculous. But, the more we can educate others on the Aftermath, the better off everyone will be. So, again I thank you. I teach a section concerning the Aftermath in my concealed carry classes and just about anywhere else I can get away with it. You mentioned an attorney. Also very, very important. LE gets up to 72 hours before having to make any kind of statement, due to stress when they are confronted with a situation like yours. If it’s good enough for LE, it’s good enough for us. Never agree to anything unless your attorney is present and tell LE that “invoke” your right to remain silent and you want your attorney present. Anyway. I could on for a long time on this subject and its importance but leave it at applauding your coming out the other side in relatively good condition. And, yes anyone who carries needs to get self-defense insurance and it is more affordable than you probably think it is. Good job Aaron and hold your head high, you’re one of the good guys! Be Aware, Take Care and Stay Safe!

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  29. Stan Koehne

    You never know when or if you may find yourself in the same or similar situation as the author.
    As he states, above all; you must be prepared and you must have an attorney present for any interrogations by law enforcement.
    You must also video the entire incident if at all possible to preserve the evidence and protect you down the line.
    Unbelievable, but not surprising that the victim changed her story to protect her boyfriend or husband.
    It is only human nature to second guess ourselves after such an incident, but the author learned a lot by doing this, and it will help the rest of us.
    I thank the author for doing what he did to deescalate the situation.
    He was brave to do what he did.
    Most people would have kept on driving and maybe call 911 or maybe not.
    By that time, the victim could have been seriously injured or dead.
    Like the author said, it is very important to make sure you have a service you can call to provide legal help in this type of situation.
    All of us who carry MUST have a legal service like “Texas Law Shield” to help us if and when we ever need it, and I pray that I will never need to call their number, which is right behind my driver’s license and concealed handgun license in my wallet.
    I am not endorsing them, but only mention their name to possibly help someone out there to take action NOW, before it’s too late.
    GOD bless the author and shame on the “victim” for doing what she did, and hopefully the perpetrator is in prison.
    What a great and thought provoking article!

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  30. Vince P

    I am glad that this worked out for you this time. I am a retired police officer and this is not to Monday morning quarterback you in any way but rather to enhance everyone’s thought process in situations like this. You made some dangerous assumptions when entering this situation. The first was that the woman was the victim. What if the man was defending himself against an armed carjacker, ie the woman. You would have left yourself in an extremely vulnerable position. As hard as it is to do, there is a reason that they train in good CCW classes to stay out of situations until you are completely certain you know what the situation is really about. Some things are never what they appear to be. We can write these scenarios over and over again and they are real life situations that take place for our law enforcement officers. Many times it is not what it appears when you first arrive. If you are trapped into reacting in a situation, treat everyone as the perpetrator until it can be sorted out. That is why you were temporarily detained when the police arrived. They did not know who the real victim was until they could properly investigate. This is very important to realize and I do not put this here to criticize your actions because you may very well have had enough visual information to be certain of what was taking place. I only write this to show everyone out there how dangerous real life can be if you make assumptions when getting involved. As I would tell young officers starting off that I was training. Don’t let tunnel vision creep in on you, grow eye in the back of your head. Never assume anything as threats to you can come from anywhere. It is very hard not to get involved (and by no means am I suggesting that to be the case) but sometimes it is the prudent thing to do.

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  31. RogerB

    Aaron I’m glad it worked out for you. As an ex-cop the first day I walked out my door totting my handgun that I had a Texas license for, I was protect buy an insurance organization. I had seen and heard enough thru the years to never take that chance. I’m glad the perp went don’t for his crime. As someone else mentioned the domestic abuse call is the one where the office is in the most danger. I know, I had a lady attack me when I was arresting her husband who had broken her jaw. She could barely speak but she could yell like a wild woman which she was. Again best to you and your family. If it ever happens again, call 911, report it, hang up the phone and say nothing until you have your attorney by your side.

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  32. FT

    Excellent article. Good reading for anyone who has a concealed carry permit and does carry.
    I will make sure my family all read it.

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  33. Doug Smith

    It’s funny that my wife and I were just talking about this kind of intervention in a domestic dispute over the weekend. I would most certainly call 911 and if the scene somehow expanded to involve me and my wife I would take action to keep us safe and try to escape the situation without the use of deadly force;if possible. But I gotta tell you I’d be hard pressed to get involved;with or without a firearm; in what appeared to be a domestic situation. The main reason that I got my CCW was that an idiot threatened to pull a weapon on my daughter and I in a Wal-Mart parking lot over a parking spot. It was then and there that I made the decision to be able to protect me and mine from people who choose to make poor decisions. I am much more likely to get involved in a situation where an armed individual is threatening in a mall, movie theater; eating establishment; convenience store etc.. Domestic things can go sideways in some unexpected ways. Such as the victim pulling a weapon on you for hassling her companion. Then you are screwed for stepping into a situation that may be an “everyday” part of their world. Thanks for sharing.

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  34. Ken

    after the fact I probably would have stopped called 911 and relayed that to him before drawing my gun, be ready for what may happen next.

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  35. Jack

    Fantastic write up! I’ve read many accounts of self-defense shootings, etc. and, although a lot of them were more gruesome, yours made chills go up my spine. I really related to your experience and could see myself doing the same exact thing (hopefully as well as you did). At the risk of sounding like a coward, your story really made me pause and think about how risky it is to intervene; yes, heroes don’t think about the consequences when someone is being attacked but… Since I’ve never been in a similar situation, I don’t know for sure how I’d act. But here in the safety of my home, I’m thinking I’d probably just call 911 and report the situation. Then again, I wouldn’t have the luxury of knowing that the victim wasn’t kidnapped or that she would testify against me! There are many alternatives like keeping the gun in the holster and trying to physically overcome the perp, pulling up beside him and leaning on the horn, etc. Any and all of the alternative interventions could get you killed so… The bottom line is your story really made me think about the consequences of my actions and to ask myself why I carry and what circumstances would make me use my gun. Perhaps most importantly, you’ve made me get off my butt and get that CCW insurance I’ve been putting off. I can’t thank you enough!!!

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  36. Michael Bell

    Thanks for your thoughts and what to consider before a person ever gets into that spot. Laws seem to be written for the criminal, to protect their rights before the rights of the victim or the public.

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  37. Robert E. Hays

    This points out the need to be a member of the USCCA or some other group which furnishes legal insurance in case of an issue like this. Go without it and label yourself stupid.

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  38. Curtis

    Check out the video link, this is not your average CC holder this guy has real world experience. Great job in helping that lady!!!

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  39. Gregory

    I learned a similar lesson when attempting to help people at an accident that I had just witnessed. It was in the 80’s and cell phones were not everywhere, like they are today. I had a Ham Radio in my car. I pulled over and offered to help. One of the victims asked that I call the police, so I made a relay over the radio to another Ham who had access to a telephone, and the call to the police was made. Shortly thereafter, another victim came to me and asked what I was doing there. I told him I was here to help, and had relayed a call to law enforcement for assistance. The victim became very upset, asking why I had done such a thing. Explaining that one of the other victims had asked me to make the call did no good. I was now the subject of this victims anger. I got in my car and left before anything else happend, vowing NEVER to pull over and assist again. Now, if I see a wreck, I just go up the road a ways, take the nearest exit and make the call of the incident to 911. It was a real wake-up call for me to find out that what truly believed was the right thing to do can quickly turn against you. It was a lesson that, as a species, people are just animals at the core of their being and may not be very civilized in a dynamic critical incident.

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  40. Michael

    The most important piece of “equipment” a person must first acquire if they choose to carry a firearm in our litigious society today is a law firm or attorney on retainer. And not just any attorney (like your brother-in-law for example) – you need a firm or attorney that specializes in defending lawful, armed citizens like yourself who may just get embroiled in these types of situations. Getting “involved” in these type of situations is at best dangerous, both from the physical and legal perspectives, and most civilians will not have the total picture of what is going on at the time they jump in to the fire. Additionally, civilians do not have the protections in the law afforded to police officers, so unless you are specifically protecting your own life or the life of a loved one, you are in shark-infested waters.

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  41. Cliff McKelvy

    BRAVO. I salute you and your efforts, despite the turmoil you suffered. I pray all is well with you now.

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  42. FOTIS

    Thanks for sharing your story Aaron and I’m glad to hear it worked out for you. Prior to emigrating I lived in a country rife with crime and had a number of occasions where being armed saved my life and property. I have a permit to carry but my biggest fear in this litigious country of ours is what will happen if I ever have to draw my gun and worst to have to use it. It unfortunately seems that criminals have more rights than the law abiding citizen making it difficult to justify two years or more of one’s life given to justifying your reasons for wanting to do the right thing – protect your “neighbor”, your family or yourself.

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  43. Gene

    I had a similar situation occur, I called 911 to report, the dispatcher ask if I was there & could I wait for the trooper at which point I was back on the freeway & told her so. Because the man saw me calling in and was yelling at me, before it escalated further than I cared to be involved I left knowing the officer was on the way. I felt I did what I could without the use of force

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  44. Jim

    Yes, I also appreciate you taking the time Aaron to express your feelings about your critical and intense experience. This is great to share so all of us who actively carry on a daily basis can learn from such an experience and consider the ramifications from unholstering our carry guns. I learned this interesting comparison in my USCCA training for helping to decide in advance when/if to draw guns. It’s called the “shark tank” scenario. What would cause you to jump in a shark tank? To rescue a family member? Absolutely. for a watch, wallet, phone or any other material thing- absolutely not. For someone you don’t know????? Just as you’ve now reflected back after listing the huge costs for your intervention, I’m now asking myself that question. That’s the huge question that would plague almost all of us who consider ourselves responsibly armed “sheepdogs”.

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  45. Joe

    Glad everything ended reasonably well. I’ll tell you what my pre-decision experience is with a short story. My best friend asked me once if I would use my gun to save his life. My immediate response was “no, I won’t”. I told him I would buy him a gun, train him (I’m a firearms instructor), teach him everything I knew about the subject of firearms and their use, but I would not use my gun to defend him. He asked me why, sort of disappointed in my answer. I said that I would not risk my life, my freedom, my fortune to do something for him that he refused to do for himself.
    This decision, applied to your incident, would have read something like this. This woman made the mistake, which she was probably aware of, of choosing this abuser. The evidence of this is that she knew him well enough that she recanted her story and defended him. It was probably not the first time he had beat her. So if she was not going to make smart decisions for herself I was not going to risk my life, my …. Good Samaritan stuff is tricky at the best of times, and life threatening in the worst. Defend yourself and your family, let the rest of the world defend itself.

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  46. Francois Rook

    What you have gone though, open my eyes, I have an attorney now and will do more training. Thank you for opening my eyes.

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  47. Bob Osborne

    Job well done. You went into the ‘shark tank’ and came out alive, with no life lost. You did the right thing and answered the bible question, “…am I my brother’s keeper…”. Your answer is YES. “…if you are honest, there will always be those who will take advantage of you….be honest anyway…”. Mother Teresa. I am thankful that there are men like you who may well have to help my wife and child. I can only hope and pray that I will have the courage to do the same as you did. Be strong, and thanks….. Bob

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  48. Aaron Kreag

    Wow. What a solid bit of comments, last time I looked there were two. I’m really glad that folks are able to get something from this bit. Have to mention Aaron Israel helped edit this for me and has been a solid friend, sounding board, and CFS instructor, Pincus too. Having the community around me to some degree has been beneficial. This is a solid fraternity that I am honored and humbled to be amongst. Feel free to connect here, on Facebook or LinkedIn…I am the only person with this name. Thanks again and keep the comments coming! God bless.

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  49. chas brothers

    When I started carrying full time 24/7/365, I immediately joined the USCCA. The legal benefits alone are worth the membership fees and they train their members to avoid your pitfalls before these types of situations even come up so you can feel confident going into a situation that someone’s got your back!

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  50. Gary Lewis

    I think you did the best you could under the circumstances. It’s fortunate no one has a lot of experience dealing with the situation you found yourself in. God bless you.

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  51. steve shockley

    just ask the victim outright if they want you to kill their assailant,if they say no ,just go to the movies

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  52. K S

    “At my core, I am still a servant.” That is an amazing and humbling thing to say after the situation you went through and the victim directing her fears towards you instead of her attacker.

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  53. Phillip Franklin

    God bless you Aaron. As all police officers know responding to domestic violence is a very dangerous situation. A lot of times the victim will attack the officer and I think more often than not will testify that any use of force was an overreaction by the responder. To inject myself into a domestic violence situation as a civilian is not something I relish even contemplating. Now, in matters of life an death (I see the guy beating the person with a club or stabbing the person), then with no hesitation I would react to stop the violence. Otherwise, call 911 and let the police handle it….be a good witness. Had the fella took it into his mind to attack you….ask yourself this….could you articulate why you were in fear of your life? If you can’t had you used your firearm, in all likelihood you would be in jail. Me, my gun will not come out of the holster and be pointed at another human being unless I have every intention of shooting said person. He would have to be beating the crap out of me or have a weapon and threatening me with it.

    I am very glad that you tried to help even if the victim flipped on you. But, that behavior is typical. Please don’t take this as chastising you because I’m not. You obviously have been put through the wringer just for trying to help someone in dire need. But this is the world we live in.

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  54. Carl

    Thanks for sharing. It must have been a tough 2 years And you never fired a shot

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  55. vferrigno

    What a great learning opportunity for those of us who carry and share your thoughts about “loving (and protecting) thy neighbor.” I’ve sat on the fence over the signing up for attorney protection. This has gotten me off that fence.

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  56. Andy

    Have the “victim” approach/get close to your wife? Lowlifes usually run with lowlifes and intervening in domestic squabbles is (IMHO) the second most dangerous “routine” call officers make. The “victim” usually declines to prosecute at best, or assaults the officers at worst. The best thing to do would have been to have your wife video everything on her phone while you talk to the police on yours. You have paid the price for trying to do the right thing, which in today’s litigious society, is costly. You are lucky the guy is not suing you civilly. Look at it this way: if you came upon 2 guys in a gun battle, would you get involved? If you said, “No, i would call 911, give a description, and get the heck out of Dodge, you answered right. Secondly, NEVER talk to anyone, especially the media, except through your attorney. Although your final remarks show you have gotten the message, you AND your wife should really go to a nationally-recognized firearms training schoool like Gunsite to get some training on not only how to shoot, but how to avoid getting yourself on the “X” you put yourself in ( i.e., Plan NOW on just what circumstances will motivate you to put you and your family’s lives, fortunes, and reputations at risk for a total stranger and be certain that when you come out of that proverbial phone booth, the “S” on your chest doesn’t stand for “Stupid”.). Your wife is a saint for sticking with you through all the B.S. she’s been through over this. Cherish her. Hope things work out for you

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  57. Debbie Brown

    Thank you Aaron for sharing your story. I am thankful you prevailed in the actual encounter, as well as the aftermath. As a law enforcement officer and a firearms instructor for both law enforcement and civilians, I can not tell you how much your message needs to get through to the those in public who carry concealed. There are many police officers who have to make the kinds of choices you made that day, but they sometimes have the advantage of more training, and more tools to deal with the issues they face on a daily bases. I advise civilians to carry a secondary defensive weapon and if applicable, use it first. In a situation like yours, pepper spray could have been another option. Of course I wasn’t there, and I don’t want to give you the impression you did anything wrong, because you didn’t, but another tool as a option, (even if you chose not to use it) may have been to your advantage to have it. If you use it, and it works, it was appropriate given the circumstances. If you don’t use it, and choose to draw your gun instead, you may be able to make that to do so was more appropriate. Either way, you can make the argument. Best of luck to you and your family.

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  58. Craig Bergman

    Thank you Aaron. I am glad most worked out allright. With your permission, as a CCW instructor I would like to share your story (withholding your identity) with my students. Warmest regards, Craig

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  59. Anton

    Thanks fyi. Just another reason that self preservation takes precedence over being neighborly. Call the police and observe-much safer and cheaper. Let the police who are responsible do the job of public protection. Sad to say this but our culture and legal system is stacked against good Samaritans. .

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  60. Barry Graham

    You completely violated the FIRST RULE of Gunfighting (happily for you no shooting was involved…dumb luck). The FIRST RULE is Mind Your Own Business. There is one exception: If a uniformed LEO is on the losing end of a fight for their life – First- loudly ask “Would you like my help?” Then, regardless of the answer jam your gun muzzle into the mouth of the offender and being sure that there is an okay exit path for the bullet, work the trigger.

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  61. Dave

    Thank you for sharing your experience. As a new cl holder, this story has made me realize that extensive training will be in my future. You are heroic, and you should have been treated accordingly. Shame on a public who look down on law abiding citizens who step up to the plate to save a life.

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  62. Bill

    Aaron, thanks for sharing your story. This one of the reasons I’m comtplateing my getting my CCL.

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  63. Steve

    Aaron this is a very informative and useful article. I teach HCP courses and one of the best questions to ask yourself is “would you do the same thing again?” As you pointed out, you were in a ‘friendly’ judicial environment. If you had been sitting in jail for aggravated assault for 15 -20 yrs, how would that have worked out for your family? Glad it worked out for you, but unfortunately it doesn’t for everyone and domestic situations it is very common for the ‘victim’ to turn on the protector.

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  64. Von Arney MAJ USA Ret

    Good write up Aaron. Don’t let Lawyers make you feel bad about your actions. You did the right thing. Yes have SELFDEFENSEFUND.COM would have been great with discount code SM45. You are correct in that no matter how well we fo in a situation, people who care always feel they could do better, and they learn from it an will do a more perfect job next time if it ever happens again. However, they will find scene and details different and will still vome out thing tgey could have fone better.

    Thank for being a Good Guy with a Gun willing to help.

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  65. David W. S. Mason

    There are valubale lessons here. Don’t forget that in situations i volving violence, drugs and/or alcohol are often involved, adding to the danger and unpredictability of the situation.

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