The Break-In: Lessons Learned

posted on July 19, 2013

I’ve only had short catnaps since early Saturday morning when an attempted break-in occurred. The alleged perp’s already out on bail, sleeping less than 300 yards away. The district attorney refused to see me before the initial hearing, my wife and I wasted an entire day in a futile attempt at getting a restraining order and last night it was the rumbling of an aging ceiling fan that convinced me someone was in the driveway.

My poor initial decision is what’s really giving me nightmares. I know better, thanks to the number of tactical and self-defense courses I’ve attended. I have no doubt, however, that it was the practice and muscle memory I gained in those classes that kept me out of harm’s way once law enforcement arrived.

It all started with a trip to the bathroom at around midnight and a side trip to the fridge. That’s when I heard the smashing and saw someone using my own rake to break through a sliding-glass door into the converted garage (Lesson 1: put away all your tools, even if you’re not done with the leaves). It was locked, alarmed and the din of our floodlamps on the perp was blinding. The alarm was not sounding.

I screamed at least three times that I had called the police. “Daniel, open up the door,” was the response. Now there are two? I turned on all the lights in the garage, but the attempted break-in continued.

The rest of the incident is a blur with a few exceptions. I had an unloaded AR-15 in a photo setup covered in the locked garage, so I opened the door, grabbed the gun, and moved as fast as I could to point it through what glass remained. The person was staring directly at the business end of the flash hider and didn’t blink. I resorted to salty language and declared my intentions of using it. Nothing. Blank stare. No one was home. I worked the charging handle. So much for that old fable. She went back to work on the door while screaming for Daniel.

Sometime during the mess my wife dialed 9-1-1, but before she could back me up with her loaded Ruger LCR, I was out the door and things were up-close-and-personal. The alleged burglar ran off, dropping the rake, car keys and a hemostat within about 20 yards.

By this time my wife handed me my loaded Wilson Combat CQB Elite that I should have grabbed in the first place. That’s what’s giving me nightmares (Lesson 2: Never take an unloaded gun to a gunfight). I then cleared the rest of the garage, and there’s a lot of pie to slice in there with two storage rooms.

As I saw the squad car pulling up, my handgun was placed on the bumper of our truck in the driveway and I immediately declared its presence (Lesson 3: Instructors tell you to practice seemingly trivial stuff like that because you’ll be on auto-pilot if the unthinkable happens….I know). That, apparently, allowed the officer to take off in pursuit.

A pair of officers caught her, covered in blood, around 15 minutes later. A fall on the gravel or the thick woods behind the house apparently took their toll.

It wasn’t until the next day that I learned my wife was not on the phone with 9-1-1 the entire time (Lesson 4: Your pleas for the bad guy to leave before you use the gun need to be recorded, so stay on the line with 9-1-1 and, if like in this case, you somehow get disconnected, call back).

The only authorities discussing our proximity concerns are the awesome deputies who responded (Lesson 5: These guys have a dangerous and thankless job, keep that in mind and if you do wield a firearm to thwart an attack, declare it immediately upon police arrival and obey their instructions implicitly and instantly).

After more than a dozen years of search-and-rescue work hauling broken bodies out of the wilderness, the last thing I want to do is be forced to take someone’s life-so I’m thankful no shots were fired. Total damages came in at $2,400.

Judging by the blank stare and inability to answer basic questions, law enforcement is confident Daniel is imaginary. We’re not letting our guard down, though, so the cartridges in our guns are not.


Elbert Searle Protype Pistol 1
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