Sometimes Good Intentions…

Are you aware of the recent case of the Good Samaritan who jumped into a brawl to help a cop? Sometimes good intentions … well, here’s the story.

It’s the last Friday night before Christmas and the mall is packed. There’s a frenzy of last-minute buying but, as the mall begins to close, a crowd of unsupervised teens has gathered in the food court. They pay no attention to the two mall security officers who try to move them toward the exits, and a fight breaks out between several women. The officers wade in to break up what quickly becomes a hair-pulling, screeching melee, but they are outnumbered and ignored. All around them, teens are participating in the fight, rushing forward and hitting or kicking one of the fighters. Teens rush toward the security officers and begin abusing them, shoving them and kicking them from behind. One of the unarmed officers calls the city police for back-up.

Police can’t be everywhere. As social policy, we may not want them everywhere. Nevertheless, there are 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in the U.S. They employ more than 1.1 million individuals on a full-time basis; 765,000 of them are sworn officers, meaning they have general powers of arrest. Agencies also employ more than 100,000 part-time personnel, including 44,000 sworn officers. And those numbers don’t include men and women in Federal service; neither do they include America’s 15 million concealed carry permit holders.

Back at the mall, an officer rushes inside to assist the security guards, who are now taking a beating. Immediately, part of the crowd turns on the officer as well and soon he is wrestling with kids who are grabbing for his Taser and his pistol. In the distance, faintly, sirens are wailing, meaning help is on the way … eventually.

Friday night at the mall plus unsupervised young people = a recipe for disaster. Perhaps not a situation that a concealed carry holder should be anywhere near. Professionals are paid to police these premises and jumping in to help might not be in anyone’s best interest.

Suddenly, a man jumps in to help the officer who has been knocked to his knees while struggling with multiple teens. This Good Samaritan grabs one kid by the back of his jacket and pulls him off the officer, but the teen continues fighting and several of his friends — urged on by the hysterical screams of the girls in the crowd — jump the Good Samaritan and now the once-modest free-for-all is complete pandemonium.

Then shots are fired. It turns out the Good Samaritan has a concealed carry permit and a pistol in a holster on his belt. Well, he had a gun. In the general confusion, one of the teens has spotted the gun and grabbed it. Now, that teen begins pulling the trigger … bang! It happens very fast, but the shots seem to go on forever and the crowd races for the exit, even as other officers begin arriving. At this point, the cellphone video stops, but that does not mean the story is over.

The concealed carry permit holder is down, as is the officer, both with gunshots. Two teens are also lying on the floor of the mall, bleeding. The kid who grabbed the gun and pulled the trigger dropped the pistol and disappeared into the mass of screaming teens rushing for the doors.

Early indications are that one of the kids has died; the other is expected to survive. The officer ended up with a gunshot to the groin — apparently a ricochet off the floor — and the Good Samaritan permit holder with a shot in the upper back. It could have been worse, but it could have been better.

For better or worse, we members of the concealed carry community have the Good Samaritan gene. We see a problem; we want to fix it. We see someone in trouble; we want to help. But there are limits. The three surviving gunshot victims will remember the event for the rest of their lives and will struggle with resulting health issues. The Good Samaritan is now being sued by the surviving kid’s mother. It is unknown if the officer will lawyer-up as well. The Good Samaritan could lose everything he has … or not, depending on the quality of his lawyers, the political leaning of the judge and the make-up of the jury.

I’m not sure what I would have done in this situation, but I would have wanted to help. I imagine you would have also. But was it wise to wade into a melee? Should the Good Samaritan even have been present and carrying in the mall on Friday evening, a place and hour when unsupervised teens tend to gather and fight and cause trouble? What would you have done?