Worth Fighting For

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Although they occurred years apart and on opposite ends of the U.S., the following two incidents highlight why we must consider the shark-tank analogy before jumping into a fight. Always remember, it’s self-defense, not stuff-defense.

Florida Struggle

In 2016, just a few miles from my home in Hernando County, Florida, a man named Craig Bonello, 30, pushed a shopping cart through a Dollar General Store. Down an aisle and in full view of store video cameras, he spied a mother with her 13-year-old daughter.

Bonello abandoned his cart, walked to the mom-and-daughter duo and grabbed the child, trying to drag her out of the store. The girl fought back, as did the mom. Nevertheless, he persisted, tugging the girl by her hair toward the store’s entrance and fending off the mother’s attack. The mom eventually laid down on top of her daughter, wrestling with Bonello.

The screams from the two women and yelling of the store manager alerted an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, Jonathan Behnen. The deputy blocked the man’s car as he tried to drive off and eventually arrested him. Bonello was charged with kidnapping and child abuse.

“In my 10 years on the road I’ve never seen anything like this,” Sgt. Craig Callahan said. “He truly intended to abduct this child right in front of everyone in the store. We’re very fortunate that the mother had the motherly instinct and did what she did. She may have saved her daughter’s life.”

On June 7, 2016, Bonello was found insane rather than guilty.

California Mob Rule

A mob of teenagers was hanging out at a crowded San Francisco Mall on Black Friday of 2019. A woman approached the group accusing them of stealing her cellphone. They exchanged words before the men abusively shoved her away.

An off-duty California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer decided to intervene by getting close and taking photos of the group. Then, one of the girls in the crowd noticed him and another attacked the woman whose phone was stolen.

The men turned toward the officer and immediately became violent, choking him into unconsciousness. The off-duty officer regained consciousness and pepper-sprayed one of the teens attacking him.

“It was a regular melee,” said a responding cop. “It was chaotic, and it was a really scary situation.” The CHP officer suffered a concussion, a broken finger and bruising, while the woman did not appear to be harmed.

Apparently, the CHP officer was carrying his pistol, but was not in uniform. “There was a lot of restraint that had to be practiced at that point, and I had to do my best to stay in the moment,” he told KTVU TV. “I think this just came down to me not being able to look away and let this happen.”

Eventually, two suspects, ages 14 and 16, were arrested and booked in an Alameda County juvenile detention center. The rest of the group fled, and as of the time of this writing, authorities are looking for six others that were involved in the attack.

What Would You Do?

If your child is being dragged away, you have the right to fight back with anything available to you. If you see someone getting attacked, your best option is to be a good witness, as the brave CHP officer attempted to do. Instead, he suffered several injuries over another person’s cellphone. Self-defense, not stuff defense. If your son or daughter is being attacked, fight. If your cellphone is missing, just report it.

About Rick Sapp

After his stint in the U.S. Army, including time as an infantry platoon leader and working with West German KRIPO during the 1968 Soviet invasion, Rick Sapp returned home to earn a Ph.D. in social anthropology. Following his education from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Catholic University of America and the University of Florida, he moved to France for a year. Rick worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service before turning to journalism and freelance writing, authoring more than 50 books for a variety of publishers.


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