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OK, Call 911. Then What?


In last week’s column, we emphasized how important it is to call 911 immediately in the wake of any incident that involves your firearm, whether or not shots were fired. But what do you do now? As in all things legal, the answer is: “It depends.”

No Shots Fired — Attackers Have Fled

This is the most common (and most desirable) outcome of any attack. Nobody is hurt, and the suspects have run off. However, you must still call 911, if for no other reason than that the bad guys may also call, telling a much different story than you. When the 911 dispatcher answers, tell him or her, “My name is [your name]. I’m standing [your location]. I was attacked; they ran off. If you need me to make a statement, call me at this number. I should be home in about [amount of time].” Then, hang up. If they call back, do not answer until you are in a safe location.

Note that since no one was injured, and no shots were fired, you are not obligated to stay at your current location, since doing so could put you at additional risk. Did the attackers actually leave, or did they go to their vehicles to retrieve their own firearms? Did they call for reinforcements (such as fellow gang members who they knew would be armed)? This has happened with some frequency.

Shots Fired

Call 911 and say, “My name is [your name], I’m standing at [your present location]. I was attacked. I need a police car and an ambulance here right away.” Then, again, hang up. Note that this applies whether or not anyone, including you, is injured and regardless of whether a suspect is down or has fled (even badly wounded suspects have been found miles from the scene). There is no need to give any details. When shots are fired, multiple calls will come in to 911 advising police of that fact — more if they believe they are witnesses.

Then, immediately call your attorney. Leave a message, giving only your current location, phone number and a request to call you back “as soon as possible — it’s an emergency.”

Once shots are fired, you must not leave the scene. If it is possible, find a relatively safe public place to wait for the police. However, if a suspect is down at the scene, it is advisable to keep him in sight but not approach him.

Here Come the Cops

When cops are called to a scene where shots have been fired, they are in an adrenaline-fueled state of excitement. You will be too. As a result, your behavior is absolutely critical — literally a matter of life or death. We advise you to practice what to do and say.

Stand Still!

Nothing makes cops more nervous than someone who is moving around, especially if they can’t see that individual’s hands. As the first officers arrive, keep both hands at your sides, palms forward. Greet them, making sure the first word out of your mouth is “officer.” Say, “Officer, I’m the one who called. I was attacked.” Then, say either, “They ran off” or “There’s the attacker who tried to kill me,” pointing at the suspect, followed by, “Officer, I don’t want to say anything more until I have my attorney with me.”

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