We at the USCCA relentlessly pound on readers about how quickly things can go really, really badly, usually with little or no warning. We were reminded of this just a couple of weeks ago when the kind of nightmare scenario we all dread became a reality in Kalamazoo, Michigan: an indiscriminate shooting spree by a completely random killer. With no apparent motives, and no particular victims in mind, the behavior of such an attacker is impossible to anticipate.
In this case, for example, there was no “road rage” or other precipitating confrontation. The shooter was not a recently fired employee whose potential for violence may have been foreseen. Nor was he related to any of the victims, at least as far as is known. In other words, there were no “red flags” that could have at least put some of his victims on alert.
Like a “lone wolf” terrorist, a 45-year-old shooter simply drove around to several locations, including a car dealership and a family restaurant, and then opened fire on people who were apparently complete strangers to him.
Over a period of 5 hours, he killed six people and wounded two more, including a woman with three children and a 14-year-old girl. The mother is in stable condition, while the teen is, according to authorities, “fighting hard to survive.”
In a bizarre side note, it seems that the attacker was an Uber driver and was allegedly picking up fares between the shootings. Details of the rampage can be found at:
A terrible case, but what can you and I learn from this horrific incident? What can we do to increase the odds of avoiding being caught in a similar situation, or at least survive it if we do find ourselves under attack? Well, there are no guarantees in life, especially in today’s world. But for starters, incidents like this one underscore a fundamental principal of self-defense: awareness.
Sure, if you’re like most of us who routinely carry a gun, you probably believe that you’re already more alert than the average person who isn’t armed. And you’d likely be right. Whether texting or talking on their cell phones, or simply preoccupied, it is astonishing how many people today walk around utterly clueless about what’s going on around them.
Most of us are on an elevated alert status when we find ourselves in locations or venues that are more often associated with violent crime: stopping into a convenience store late at night or walking to our car in a dark parking garage. But we can all get a little careless from time to time, especially when we are in an environment that seems non-threatening…like a car dealership or a family restaurant.
FYI, we’re not suggesting paranoia here, just a renewed commitment to paying attention to everything that is going on around us. We all need to reinforce our mindset that there is no such thing as a “safe space”—not while putting gas in our cars, not while sitting in our houses of worship, nor even while mowing our own lawns.
Remember that noticing something wrong, even a few seconds sooner, can be the difference between life and death. Case in point: at the restaurant, Dalton approached two vehicles, both belonging to members of the same family. He fired into one, then the other. Apparently, neither driver paid attention to him approaching.
Being armed is important. But being armed and constantly aware is absolutely vital.