Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series on Mychael Waller’s self-defense incident. Part 1, which details everything that led up to the self-defense incident that Mychael and his son MJ experienced, appeared in the January 2021 issue of Concealed Carry Magazine. You can read Part 1 via the link below:
After shooting a gang member in self-defense in the Little Village of Chicago on May 27, 2019, 25-year-old firearms dealer and trainer Mychael Waller acted quickly. After securing his young son in his car with his friend Devin Perkins, who had been waiting there when the shooting started, Waller attended to the man who had attempted to kill him only seconds earlier. Waller was also carrying a Glock 30 he’d used that weekend at a firearms training conference in Missouri. On the phone, Waller tried to remain calm, gave police his location and provided a detailed description of himself. The shooting may have been justified, but he wanted to be as helpful to the police as possible to make sure they understood his side of the story. If he hadn’t returned fire, Waller and his 5-year-old son MJ would probably not have made it out of the situation alive. His immediate concerns now were to avoid being seen as an armed criminal and to avoid a clash with law enforcement.
“I didn’t want to get shot by the police,” he stated. “I told them to bring an ambulance and that there was a lot of blood.” The police arrived in a matter of minutes. The city of Chicago uses gunshot-detection sensors in high-crime areas. The technology helps police pinpoint where a shot was fired. By this time, Waller had put his Glock back into his car. “When the police came, I had my hands up, and they grabbed the firearms,” recalled Waller, who grew up in the Chicago area. “I was put in custody and arrested.” The man who started the shootout had sustained a gunshot wound to the head. (He would die in a hospital three days later.) While Waller and his son had physically survived the incident, there was still plenty of explaining to do. His ordeal wasn’t over.
Fortunately, the facts were on his side.
A Trip in the Squad Car
Back at the police station, Waller relayed to the officers exactly what had happened. He has numerous family members in law enforcement and the military and felt comfortable explaining the lead-up to the shooting through its conclusion. After coming back from a firearms training conference, Perkins and Waller had picked up MJ and stopped at Waller’s girlfriend’s place in the Little Village section of Chicago. This was a rough neighborhood, so the concealed carry permit holder wore his Heckler & Koch VP9 as he approached the home from the alley. Seconds later, a man began cursing at Waller and his son as they neared the driveway. Evidently believing that Waller was a member of a rival gang, the man pulled a gun and opened fire. Waller returned fire, hitting the man in the upper body. Despite the injury, the man kept firing until Waller caught him in the head with another shot.
It was the kind of scenario anyone would dread, but Waller knew his actions saved him and MJ. He and his son were both uninjured.
In the immediate aftermath, Waller’s girlfriend, Dana Clayter, took MJ while Waller was transported to the police station. After Waller discussed the issue with them, the police began to see things his way. The gang member’s long, violent rap sheet helped his case. “They were very understanding,” Waller declared. “They were hugging me and said they would have done the same thing.”
I feel we’re stronger if we’re together.
Officers took possession of his firearms, however, and Waller completed what seemed like a ream of paperwork. After surveying the scene and piecing the story together, police released Waller about eight hours later. An appearance in court was still necessary though because an official arrest for the incident remained on his record. The judge realized the mistake, dismissed the charges and expunged the arrest. Waller says things went about as smoothly as he could have expected.
Word about the incident spread quickly among family and friends. Many reached out with words of support, including the NRA. But shooting someone is never a pleasant decision. It’s a situation no one ever hopes to be in. Taking another person’s life can weigh on one’s conscience — no matter the circumstances. Feelings of regret and frustration can creep in. Waller certainly felt that in the days after the incident. Even worse, his son MJ was dealing with his own emotional distress.
“He was traumatized, but I think he was a little too young to recognize exactly what was going on,” Waller explained. “But he does know what happened and knows I did have to stop a bad man. He knows what guns are, and he goes shooting with me all the time. He shoots a .22.”
As a Christian, Waller sought several counseling sessions with his pastor at the Family Christian Center in Munster, Indiana, to deal with some of his feelings in the aftermath. MJ also attended these sessions. The boy’s father and mother continue to monitor his behavior. Fortunately, they haven’t noticed any long-term emotional effects. Church friends — as well as fellow gun enthusiasts — also offered help and words of sympathy.
“They keep up with us pretty regularly,” Waller stated. “I love the gun community, and a lot of them reached out to me and asked me if I needed anything. There’s really a lot of love in the community.” Mychael Waller and Devin Perkins experienced something the great majority of gun owners will never experience, and the tragedy brought them closer together than ever before.
“That’s my brother from now on,” Perkins declared. “Mychael’s a great guy. He and I click on so many different levels. Because it’s not just about guns and going to the range. We talk about everything from family life to sports. He’s a stand-up dude. Mychael is one of the very few people in my immediate circle and one of the first people I call if I need advice. He’s a very young but experienced person and always has a pretty good perspective.”
Setting the Record Straight
Following the shooting, various media outlets bombarded Waller with interview requests. Concerned that the real story might get twisted, Waller turned many of those down. He wanted his story to be recognized as a real case of armed self-defense rather than just another shootout in an alley. Waller was surprised, however, that many news stations and local newspapers reported the story accurately. Most recognized he had been attacked and had no choice but to defend himself and his son.
“They labeled me for what they should have: a concealed carry permit holder with his son who stopped a bad guy,” he declared. “That’s the way it should have been.”
Strength in Numbers
That 2019 incident in Little Village changed Waller’s life forever. He saved lives that spring day, and the entire incident affirmed his belief in gun rights and the importance of being armed and able to defend himself. “As far as the Second Amendment, I’m definitely grateful to have that right,” he declared. “I feel that everyone, no matter their race, color or gender, should exercise their Second Amendment rights. It saved my life and my son’s life. I don’t feel like I’m a hero. I was just doing my job as a parent.”
As a businessman, Waller saw his business boom after several looting and rioting incidents across the country following the death of George Floyd. Women, in particular, have been frequent customers as of late, and he’s pleased to see more Americans taking their personal safety more seriously. He believes it’s critical for responsible gun owners to coalesce and unite — no matter their backgrounds or political stripes.
“I think it’s very important no matter a person’s religion, race, whatever, for us to come together as a whole,” he stated. “That’s kind of something I pride my company on. Our slogan is: ‘All firearms, united as one.’ We are stronger as a whole. I hate to sound like an anti-government person, but I kind of feel like the government splits people apart to control them better. I feel we’re stronger if we’re together.”
Looking back, Waller stresses the importance of preparation — a message he takes seriously as a gun owner and seller. Preparation saved his life and the life of his son. As a firearms dealer, Waller knows the importance of training too. Regular practice and training keep firearms owners sharp and prepared for a critical situation like the one he faced.
“Having a gun is not enough,” he noted. “Get a gun, but also seek training with that gun. I believe having the proper mindset and skillset behind that firearm is the most important thing. I think that’s almost more important than just having a gun.”