Scott Javoroski’s phone pinged with the first ride request of the night as his black Audi A6 barreled south down Highway 43. In what had become his weekend routine, the 51-year-old father of five was driving from his family’s home in the north suburbs of Milwaukee toward the big city, where rideshare driving is more lucrative — especially on a Saturday night like this one.

It was around 8 on Feb. 20, 2021 — a “regular night,” according to Javoroski. At least as regular as one could be in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Javoroski glanced down at his phone, the requester’s name jumped off the screen — “Alpha.” No last name either. Nicknames aren’t uncommon on rideshare apps, but this one still struck him as a little unusual. On the other hand, the pickup location — a large complex of apartment buildings and condos in the North Meadow neighborhood of Milwaukee — was a familiar stop. An IT consultant by day, Javoroski took up rideshare driving as a “side gig” about four years and 7,000 rides earlier. There are few pickup locations in the greater Good Land area that stump him.

“My initial goal was to help offset and pay for some of our kids’ soccer camps and tournaments and hotels for travel for dance and those kinds of things,” Javoroski relayed. “And to help pay off credit card debt quicker.”

After his first night as a rideshare driver — pulling in more than $200 in just four hours on St. Patrick’s Day — Javoroski was hooked. He bought his Audi, in part, because it’s considered a “luxury vehicle” by the rideshare apps. Customers can request luxury vehicles for a slightly higher rate, and Javoroski pockets a little extra money per ride. He keeps his vehicle clean, enjoys good conversations with passengers and takes pride in upholding a near flawless five-star driver rating.

‘SMILE’: If your vehicle is your workplace, a video recorder is an essential component of your safety gear.

Finding Alpha

Javoroski pulled into the lot at the apartment leasing office and parked. When nobody showed up for several seconds, he called the rider through the rideshare app. Alpha answered and redirected Javoroski to a nearby driveway.

As Javoroski entered the horseshoe-shaped parking lot, he saw a man step out ahead of him, waving a cellphone in the universal “I’m your rider” signal. The passenger and a second man behind him, both wearing dark hooded sweatshirts — hoods up — and with masks covering their faces, approached the vehicle. In the midst of COVID-19 precautions and the deep freeze of a Wisconsin winter, nothing immediately piqued Javoroski’s concern.

“Watching them walk toward me, they were just walking like thousands of other people have approached my car,” Javoroski said. “I didn’t think anything of it. They weren’t really making eye contact, but then again, I’m not really expecting that.”

Still, he watched the men closely, as he does with all of his passengers, hoping to screen out any potential trouble before he allows it inside of his car. The most frequent offenders, by far, are those who’ve had a few too many drinks. Javoroski says he has no problem putting up with a little bit of “drunken shenanigans” or loud passengers for a few minutes — as long as they don’t make a mess of his vehicle.

“Despite the fact that I want to get everyone home safe, I don’t want anyone who’s going to puke in my car,” Javoroski said. “Knock on wood. It’s never happened in four years of doing this, and I’d like to keep that record going.”

Alpha and his acquaintance showed no signs of inebriation as they walked up. When the men split to opposite sides of the car, presumably to enter the rear doors, Javoroski hit the unlock button. The camera on Javoroski’s dash, which he installed shortly after becoming a rideshare driver, filmed one of the men entering the rear passenger’s side door and crawling into the seat.

“It wasn’t an incident that made me think about [the camera],” Javoroski said. “It was more of a CYA [cover your ass] type of situation. For better or worse, we are kind of in a litigious society where ‘he said, she said’ stuff can kind of happen. I’ve got a wife. I’ve got kids. I’ve got a career. I don’t need any of that nonsense, so if I’ve got video backing up my side of the story, that’s just an added bonus level of security for me.”

Backseat Driver

“Hey, Alpha?” Javoroski asked through a neck gaiter.

“Yeah,” the man in the backseat confirmed softly.

“How are you doing?” Javoroski inquired.

Without warning, the man suddenly lunged forward as the other rider ripped the driver’s door open.

“GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!” the man in the back screamed as he repeatedly jammed something hard into Javoroski’s shoulder, neck and head area and attempted to push him out the door.

Meanwhile, the man at the driver’s side door pulled at Javoroski’s arm, trying to force the tall and well-built driver out of the vehicle. Javoroski, now outnumbered and under the assumption that he had a gun pointed at his back, realized he was facing a grave situation.

“Hold on! Wait! Listen to me!” he yelled, trying desperately to buy a little time.

“At that point, I was afraid of what was going to come next,” he admitted.

Javoroski knew his best chance of getting out alive was getting to his handgun.

ONE-WAY TICKET: Almost all of the safety measures in ridesharing programs are geared toward rider safety, not driver safety.

Hidden Hope

Javoroski carries a handgun daily. He has a Wisconsin concealed carry permit and has been a USCCA Member for about six years. He’s been around firearms his whole life.

“My grandfather had rifles and shotguns, and I would spend a lot of time up at their house in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan,” Javoroski said. “He would take me shooting, and my dad would go out with us as well. We had family land out there at the time. We’d go out and shoot bowling pins and tin cans and things like that just to get familiar with it.”

He started shooting when he was around 7 or 8 years old, and he’s introduced his wife and children to shooting as well. Javoroski carries a concealed handgun on him whenever possible, but, at the time of the incident, he had opted for an off-body solution while driving.

“I prefer not to carry on my hip when I’m in the car just because of the seat belt,” he explained. “It’s more interference and interaction that I don’t want to deal with.”

Instead, Javoroski kept a Walther CCP 9mm pistol in the driver’s side door of his vehicle. The gun fit nicely into the compartment, which Javoroski ensured was always clear of any other items. Plus it was out of view from anyone who entered his vehicle. (Editor’s Note: CCM staff does not recommend staging an unholstered handgun in any location inside of a vehicle.)

On the night of this incident, Javoroski had a second pistol in his vehicle. The Smith & Wesson M&P40 he had used at the range earlier that day was still in a foam-padded case underneath the driver’s seat and covered with a quilted flannel shirt.

Getting to the Gun

Growing more and more agitated with every second Javoroski remained in the vehicle, the man in the back seat wildly punched at the driver’s seat belt release. Amidst this commotion, Javoroski lost the knife clipped into the front-right pocket of his pants.

“I don’t know if it was grabbed or it popped out or whatever the case was, but I knew it was no longer in my pocket and was a potential weapon for him as well,” he said.

Javoroski had to get to his gun — and quickly.

Unfortunately, with the driver’s side door open and the second man now between him and his Walther, his options were limited. He could potentially get to the Smith & Wesson under his seat, but he knew he’d never be able to get it out of the case in time to defend himself.

Suddenly, Javoroski’s seat belt popped free. He knew it was his chance.

“I stood up and was able to use my left arm to kind of punch and push and clear the guy at the driver’s side door away so I could reach down into the pocket and grab my gun,” Javoroski explained.

Drawing the gun with his right hand, Javoroski cleared enough room with his left arm to level the gun at the attacker’s chest.

“It was just kind of an instinctive ‘this needs to happen’ moment,” Javoroski said.

This pivotal, potentially lifesaving moment wasn’t too big for Javoroski, very likely due to the thousands of hours he’s dedicated to martial arts training and competition.

“A big part of it is learning to control that adrenaline rush that everybody gets when you’re in a fight-or-flight situation,” he said. “Being able to control that and use it to your advantage is very critical. You only get that through repetition and training over and over and over again.”

Javoroski began training in martial arts when he was 17 and continues to train today.

“I started out in judo, and then have kind of bounced around through different arts through the years, learning, trying to get as broad of range as possible,” he said.

Repetition breeds fluidity and smoothness, Javoroski said, and competition helps train your mind to stay calm and react quickly.

Driver Turns the Tables

With the gun in Javoroski’s hand and pointed at the attacker outside of his driver’s side door, the rideshare driver had quickly flipped the situation in his favor.

“When I leveled it at his chest, I was maybe 2 feet away from him at that point,” Javoroski said. “His eyes got big, and he threw up his hands, screamed and ran off.”

Javoroski never said a word.

“I didn’t really have much of a chance to say anything at all,” he explained.

Javoroski then brought his left hand into the vehicle to clear space in case the attacker in the backseat was still attempting to crawl into the driver’s seat.

“I didn’t want him trying to grab the gun from me,” Javoroski said. “So I kind of went in to clear and pointed it in there at him. Then he saw that and took off running as well.”

In a chaotic situation and with his life potentially on the line, Javoroski made two separate split-second decisions to not pull the trigger on his attackers.

“Realistically, they were no longer a threat,” he said.

As soon as each attacker turned his back and ran, Javoroski knew the situation no longer called for lethal force.

Ready for the Moment

Javoroski credits his firearms training and education, much of which came through his USCCA Membership, for diffusing the situation — without any shots fired — and very possibly saving his life.

Javoroski reads every issue of Concealed Carry Magazine from cover to cover and especially enjoys the True Stories section as well as any stories covering legal issues. He also watches all of the videos released on the USCCA YouTube channel.

“All of those additional bits of knowledge kind of fill out the library you’ve got in your head,” he said.

For training, Javoroski has taken a couple of NRA courses but relies primarily on practice and drills at the range and dry-fire and laser-training exercises at home. He regularly practices his draw, including from inside his vehicle, to make sure he can clear clothing and any other potential obstacles. Staging his gun in the driver’s side door compartment means he must draw with his off hand, which requires additional practice reps. He also practices shooting left-handed in case it’s ever necessary.

“I’m a firm believer in Murphy’s Law,” Javoroski explained. “You wouldn’t train as a martial artist or as a boxer with only your right hand, so why would you do that with a firearm?”

Police Respond

With the attackers running away and out of sight, Javoroski quickly cleared the car and closed the open car doors, keeping an eye in the direction in which the men ran. He found a lanyard with keys in the back seat and the knife he had lost during the incident in the front seat area. Javoroski dialed 911 as he drove away from the scene of the incident.

“Not knowing if they were going to come back. Not knowing if they had other friends in the area. My goal was, at that point, ‘I’m going to get to some place moderately safer at least,’” he explained. “So I called 911, told them where I was at the time when the incident happened, what happened and that I was driving to the gas station where I would end up meeting the police officers.”

After he hung up with the 911 dispatcher, he called his wife to let her know what had happened and to tell her he was OK. Officers arrived at the gas station in less than 10 minutes.

Javoroski gave the responding officers his driver’s license and concealed carry permit. They took his handguns from his car, unloaded them and put them into the trunk of a police SUV.

The interview, including visiting the scene of the incident, took approximately an hour and fifteen minutes. Javoroski contacted the rideshare company so that the company could exchange information with the police to help identify the attackers. He also pulled the memory card from his dash cam so the officers could make copies of the video. The video showed that the item the man in the back seat had repeatedly jammed into Javoroski was actually a cellphone, not a gun. From the time that the man entered Javoroski’s car until the time the rideshare driver left to drive to the gas station, just one minute and three seconds had passed.

“It felt easily [like] two minutes, three minutes,” Javoroski said. “It definitely felt like it took a lot longer.”

Javoroski, who said he never experienced an adrenaline dump as a result of the incident, didn’t feel like he needed an attorney or to call the USCCA Critical Response Team that evening. He said the police officers, especially after watching video of the incident, understood that he had reason to fear death or great bodily harm, and he felt they fully believed his version of the events. (Editor’s Note: Please see the breakout entitled “Post-Incident Recommendations” for the USCCA’s advice for actions following a self-defense incident.)

The police fingerprinted the car’s door handles. Unfortunately, the video revealed that the man who got into the back seat was wearing gloves, and with the number of people who get in and out of Javoroski’s car in any given week, police had little hope of capturing anything definitive anyway.

When the police were done with their initial investigation, they placed Javoroski’s guns in the trunk of his vehicle and told him he was free to go. Before driving away, Javoroski said one of the detectives rolled down her window and delivered a message of support.

“Thank you for exercising your Second Amendment rights,” she said.

Javoroski decided to call it a night.

“I’m just going to go home at this point and just kind of chill. Maybe have a beer,” he remembers thinking.

The Reaction

The following day, Javoroski decided to contact the USCCA to make sure the details of the incident were recorded just in case something came up involving the case down the line. He said the Critical Response Team member with whom he spoke indicated that the USCCA would log the info and keep the case open. She asked Javoroski to call back if anything else came up.

A representative from the rideshare company reached out to Javoroski.

“There were multiple instances where they asked me if I was OK, which was nice,” Javoroski said. “They proceeded to essentially create a report on their side, an incident on their side. And then waited for MPD [Milwaukee Police Department] to submit a subpoena for the data.”

One of the police officers involved in the case reached out to CBS 58, of Milwaukee. He provided the video of the incident to reporters so the news station could feature it as one of their “Crime Stoppers” segments.

“He wanted to get the video out there of the two guys and kind of help raise some community awareness to see if they could identify who the bad guys were,” Javoroski explained.

The station contacted Javoroski, who agreed to be interviewed for the segment. Since the incident was so fresh and the offenders were still unknown, the station suggested blurring out his face on the surveillance video and for the interview. Javoroski, who wore a USCCA shirt for the interview, agreed.

Javoroski heard from a few friends who recognized his long hair and tall build as well as the tattoos on his arms. He also heard back from the rideshare company again about an hour after the initial segment aired. This time, after initially asking about his wellbeing again, the company wanted to address the fact that Javoroski had firearms in his vehicle despite the company’s no-weapons policy.

“I explained to them that I’m a legal concealed carry holder, and it’s in my own vehicle, and they have no legal basis for telling me what I can or can’t do legally within my own vehicle,” Javoroski said. “They indicated that they were going to investigate further and they were going to deactivate my account in the meantime. It was deactivated for about 24 hours before they brought it back online.”

Days after the incident, the Milwaukee Police Department told Javoroski they had identified a person of interest in the case. They asked Javoroski to come in and identify anyone in a photo lineup that he recognized from the incident. Unfortunately, since both attackers wore masks and hooded sweatshirts during the attack, Javoroski said he couldn’t recognize anyone in the photos. The attackers remain at large, and Javoroski is unaware of any other leads in the case.

THINK TWICE: Javoroski kept a pistol unsecured in a door compartment, which is far from an ideal situation.

Takeaways From the Driver

Following the incident, Javoroski took a couple of weeks off from rideshare driving “just to chill and relax a little bit.” After reflecting on how the events unfolded, he decided to make some modifications to how and where he carries his handgun while driving, the details of which he, understandably, prefers to keep to himself.

When Javoroski started rideshare driving again, he added some extra “screening” precautions for approving his riders. First, he won’t accept any passengers using obvious nicknames. Second, he won’t accept new riders or those who don’t have good star ratings. Using this process, Javoroski would deny “Alpha” if a similar passenger appeared on his screen today.

“They were a brand-new ride,” Javoroski said. “They had never been on the platform before, and it was an obviously fake name. Those two pieces right there would be enough for me to decline the ride.”

Javoroski, along with hundreds of other rideshare drivers nationally, is pushing for additional safety measures to protect drivers. Rideshare companies have a lengthy protocol to help protect riders, including requiring a driver to go through a background check and to provide his or her driver’s license, vehicle make and model, license plate numbers, proof of registration, insurance information, photo of himself or herself, and more before he or she is approved.

But all that’s needed for a passenger to set up an account is a valid credit card, phone number and email address. Users are allowed to provide a fake name or nickname for the account and do not need to upload a photo. Rideshare companies don’t verify the identities of their users.

“I’ve always had concerns about the lack of reciprocity in terms of safety,” Javoroski said. “As [a] driver, our name is on the app. Our picture is on the app. Our car is on the app. Our license plate is on the app. The passengers know all of those details.”

Despite these concerns, Javoroski is comfortable continuing as a driver for now.

“There’s always going to be a little bit of apprehensiveness about it, but I feel that, given my new regulations for what I’m going to accept for rides, that certainly helps mitigate a lot of the issues from passengers,” he explained.

Javoroski’s family and friends have mostly been supportive about his return to the rideshare driver’s seat, but his mom still worries.

“She knows that I am a very logical person,” Javoroski said. “I don’t do things without thinking things through, in most cases, so she understands that if I’ve gone back out and gone ahead to do this, I’ve got my reasons for it. She’s comfortable with that at this point.”

At least as comfortable as a good mother can be. Javoroski recognizes that the entire rideshare premise flies in the face of generations of solid parenting advice, including go-to nuggets like “Don’t get into cars with strangers” and “Don’t meet up with people you talk to on the internet.”

“That aspect is a little weird to be sure,” he quipped.

Post-Incident Recommendations

The USCCA recommends the following after you’ve been involved in any self-defense incident:

  1. Call 911.
  • Explain: “I was attacked, feared for my life and had to defend myself.”
  • Request: “Please send BOTH police and an ambulance to this location.”
  1. If you are a USCCA Member, call the USCCA Critical Response Team (or an attorney you’ve previously arranged).
  • If you’re not a USCCA Member, call your attorney.
  1. When responding officers arrive:
  • Comply: Follow all police instructions.
  • Explain: ”I was attacked, feared for my life and had to defend myself.”
  • Identify: Point out evidence, witnesses and the attacker(s).
  • Medical: Request medical attention, if necessary.
  • Silence: “I will cooperate 100 percent, but first I need an attorney.”

(Do not talk further without your lawyer present.)