A couple of weeks ago we had an “incident” at Artemis.
Some of you may have heard about it already. In the late afternoon of a Wednesday a homeless guy decided to “interface” with our instructors. Michael, (our instructor) was in the lobby talking with Tera (our office manager). Both of them noticed a homeless guy across the street furtively looking towards our building. We had had an interaction with this gentleman on an earlier occurrence so we knew who he was.
His actions were not hostile, but his behavior and demeanor were problematic. Terra called to Kavon (our facilities manager) to let him know of this guys presence. Kavon came to the front office and the three of them noticed the individual do an about face and head into the park across the street where there were multiple children playing.
Kavon decided to walk across the street to investigate.
As he walked into the park he saw this guy in his peripheral vision standing against the brick wall as he passed. Kavon whipped around as the homeless guy made his way back towards the main entrance.
As the two made eye contact the homeless guy asked Kavon, “What the f@## are you looking at?”
Perhaps not the most polite interlocutory, but one that would not merit a hostile response by Kavon, since he could now clearly see that the homeless guy was holding a Beretta at his side.
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With phone in hand Kavon calmly said, “Nothing man… just going for a walk.”
With that, the suspect grunted then headed out of the park along the perimeter brick wall.
Kavon quickly called Artemis on speed dial.
Tera answered (we have caller ID), “Kavon?”
“He’s got a gun… put us on lock down.”
“Done” Tera hung up and immediately informed Michael, and now Jon (our other instructor on duty that day). As they went outside to corral people that were in our parking lot, she put her key into the door lock and prepared to put us on lock down.
Kavon immediately called 911 to initiate a police response.
As Kavon went back towards Artemis he could see Michael and Jon mustered outside as our clients that were in the parking lot (we had just ended a session) made their way back into the lobby.
As Kavon approached he heard Jon say “He’s got a gun” as both Jon and Michael presented their firearms and moved to cover.
The suspect that was now about seventy five meters away had stopped, turned around and pointed the beretta at the three of them.
From a covered position, and the suspect retreating back into the trees at a fairly decent distance there was no reason for our instructors to use deadly force, and they restrained themselves.
At this time two park patrons wandered out of the park and saw our three instructors with guns drawn towards a threat that from their position they could no way have seen.
Kavon and Michael yelled at them to MOVE! and get into our building. They froze in place and took repeated “encouragement” to get them to actually move to safety.
The information about the suspect was continuously relayed to dispatch via Kavon, and Kavon helped to direct the responding units into the most tactically advantageous position. Once the first two patrol vehicles arrived our instructors holstered up as the deputies retrieved their patrol rifles and made entry into the park…. eventually arresting the suspect.
The beretta….was an air soft gun with the red tip missing. He did however have three concealed throwing knives on him. He was arrested and hauled off to jail.
In thinking about this incident I noticed something in our instructors behavior and that of those park patrons: order.
When I was in law school we had a professor who wrote an article for our law review entitled Informal Systems of Order. Essentially it was his belief that individuals, left to their own devices develop rules and behavioral norms that dictate actions, without the need for central planners. He used the example of children at recess in elementary schools. These children play games at recess that are highly complex and have structured order… but there are no teachers that promulgate the rules, no arbitration bodies to adjudicate or mediate breeches of these rules… the kids sort of do things on their own…. and it works.
For all of the training, the protocols the planning we do, we can never anticipate all threats or exactly how those threats will manifest. What we can do is live the lifestyle of our training.
Kavon went to investigate a perceived threat. When he saw the gun he realized that drawing down on him would have been futile at that point, so he used a rational approach to deescalate the situation. He then made it a priority to inform his teammates at Artemis of the situation.
All he needed to tell Tera was we need to go to “lock down”. She did not require additional information or adjectives to initiate a plan… she knew that there was something bad outside and she needed to keep whatever was bad outside and not let it inside.
Michael and Jon needed to make sure that they were in a position that they could guard against an intruder before that intruder made entry. They also knew that there was a possibility that Kavon needed assistance to make it back to the safety of Artemis.
Once they had identified the suspect they needed to keep eyes on him. Jon took point and Michael acted as his back up. They did not need to discuss this… it just happened, because both knew the jobs that needed to be done, and posted up to perform those jobs. They also knew that Kavon was their voice to dispatch and they had to protect him to keep the information flowing to 911.
When the park patrons walked out they were put into an instant state of disconnect. These guys had no clue what was going on, and a difficult time processing the reality of the drama they were in… and what to do about it.
Those kids that my old professor wrote about… they lived for elementary school recess. We all did. Recess represented the bulk of our social life, and we are social creatures. Things that happened during recess.. the school yard games we played…. even the fights we participated in, were predictable, and were governed by necessity. No one needed to teach us how to play the game… we learned by doing.
Our instructors play this game daily. In their previous lives in the military, as private military contractors, and as law enforcement officers they lived and trained in this world.
When the wolf showed up at the door they did not need to initiate a formalized protocol… they reacted instinctively.
Those that didn’t live in this world… well… froze.
I have said that we must train every day… with purpose. That training is not just for the benefit of developing enhanced weapons manipulation skills, though we get that benefit from it too. We train constantly because it helps develop a combat mindset. A way of thinking about our world that prepares us for battle. When we are alone it helps to give us the tools we need to survive… when we are with others… especially others that share our passion for training… it helps develop an underlying invisible architecture that provides guidance of action.
When you look at your gun sitting in your safe, or for those of you that carry daily, be it as a law enforcement officer, or a legally armed citizen… you need to ask yourself if the pistol has taken on mythological qualities and become a goal in and of itself. If your gun is the primary “thing” you train on, you are missing the boat. The gun is a tool. One that you must master to be sure…but your mindset is the thing that needs to be trained and brought up to a level of consistency that when your gun is called upon the foundation of action is present.
Train, train, train…everyday… on purpose.