Sunday, February 14, 2016

An Outlaw's Luckiest Day, or Five Chances To Die

Pattie's front door is where the night of horror began for us, but we were just the end of the line for the criminal that came into our lives.  Eric Hall of Carmi had been in police custody and had a psych evaluation by Skype in McLeansboro.  The doctor who interviewed him gave him a clean bill and told the police to release him.  He stole a car and went north on IL Hwy 242, wrecking the car at Rube's Liquor Locker, and then burning it.  He stole another car and wrecked that one at our driveway.  We knew none of this, and I was stoking the basement stove.  When I was outside picking up wood, Lightning the feral dog was in the lower yard, obviously disturbed and not barking. That was unusual but did not alarm me.  I finished up with the stove, locked the basement door and went upstairs where Susan had gone to bed after tucking in her mother.  The dogs were all in bed in the proper places.  I emptied my pockets and was untying my shoes when there was a loud pounding at the door. Susan got up as I went to the door.  The person pounding outside shouted that there had been a wreck, and like a dumbie, I opened the door.  (Mistake!) The perp was wearing a red t-shirt, no coat or hat, and he lunged at the storm door making unintelligible noises.  I slammed the door and turned the bolt.  He started pounding on the storm door.  I told Susan to call 911 and to tell them we had drunks outside, and to stay with her mother.  At that time I did not even have a pocketknife on me.  We heard glass breaking, and that was the storm door; pounding on the door began, and I told Susan I was going to the office to get a gun.  (Mistake: All of our guns were at the far end of the house from our living space, locked in a gun safe.)  I opened the safe and reached in for my Redhawk, which I knew the location of.  It was unloaded, but cartridges were right next to the safe.  Loading it was difficult with shaky hands. (Mistake: House guns should be ready to use in an emergency.) I locked the safe and went back to the bedrooms. (Mistake: I should have grabbed a second gun for Susan.  There were three loaded .22 revolvers in the safe, plus two .357's, but I would have had to sort through a stack of cased guns.)

 I got back to Pattie's bedroom and windows were being broken there.  These windows are across the room from Pattie's bed, and they were being broken out right then.  The curtains were drawn so we could not see out.  The perp could not see in, and that was good.

Susan was on the phone with a 911 operator throughout this ordeal, and she was sitting on the side of her mother's bed.  The perp next went to the porch on the opposite side of the house where he attacked the three big windows with chairs and trash cans.  I had turned on the porch lights and turned off the interior lights so I could watch him during this phase.  We thought the windows would go at any time, but they held.  He also tried to kick in the library door, which you can see just beyond the third big window.  Had any of these points broken he would have been right into our living space.

A trash can full of sunflower seeds did not break the windows and I saw him throw it over the porch rail in frustration.

My point was here, at the end of the hallway with bedrooms (Pattie's is on the right.) behind me,

The front door that was the beginning of the attack on my left,

and the dining, kitchen, and living space was ahead of me.  The big windows face the porch, and there is a door at the end of the counter that he did not try.  The door at the far end of this room goes into the library, and a few feet beyond that is the man-door into the attached garage.

He returned to Pattie's room and threw more wood through the windows, and then made another attack on the porch. I was able to move a few feet back and forth between this room and the living space to defend in two directions from cover and concealment from the outside.  Noise continued, but we could not tell what was happening.  He had gained access into the attached garage through a broken window.  He ransacked the pickup truck, stole two ham-hocks, a tub of lard and fried okra from the freezer, took a bag of paperwork from the truck and put it in the car, and backed out of the garage with the passenger door open.  It took three attempts for him to batter his way through the garage door, and he laid rubber with all four wheels twice. We knew none of this at the time.  He took a joyride through the yard east of the house, and we saw car lights go by Pat's bedroom.  Then things got quiet.  Pretty soon lights went by, going north, followed immediately by red and blue lights.  The 911 operator told us that police were arriving, and after a long wait, police lights came by the house again.  We still knew nothing about the activities outside at this point.  The 911 operator told us that police were coming to our door, and we responded that I was disarming and would open the door with empty hands.

The State Police took me outside and asked me if the Thermos in the driveway was mine, and it was! That was odd, because it had been in the pickup in the garage, and I said so.  They then shined their lights on the south end of the house and I saw the broken garage door.  They walked me over to the door and shone a light in.  I saw the ransacked truck and then I realized the car was gone.  They asked what kind of car we had, then the color and license number.  Then they asked if I had a tripod in the car.  Odd Question!  Why yes, we shoot videos, and Pattie uses a tripod when she is shooting pistols.  Well the tripod almost got the guy killed.  They told me that he had crashed the car up north and got out of the car wielding the tripod like a gun.  The Hamilton Sheriff's deputy that had pursued him north realized at the last possible instant that the tripod was not a gun, holstered his weapon, and used the Tazer to take down the perp.

Think of the chances this lowlife criminal had to die that night!  Three stolen car wrecks, an unsuccessful campaign to gain entry into the living space of a home with an armed resident, and then a deputy  who would have been very justified to use deadly force. Well, we are very fortunate and are blessed that the guy did not get into our space in the house.  Our troubles are very manageable and this guy will be put away for a good, long time.  The police at the scene were exhibiting some giddiness that there had been no bloodshed, and everyone was in a good mood, considering the circumstances.

We had a few things wrong, all in preparation.  Guns should have been more readily accessible for an emergency situation, and that is being corrected.  Most things were done right.  We stayed in, utilizing the barrier of the walls for our safety.  We knew not to shoot except to defend life, and our gun never became part of the crime scene because it never was seen by the perp, nor was I except for the brief encounter when I opened the door.  I followed the State Police as they cleared the house and told them what was behind every door, including at our bedroom, where I warned them that dogs were in that room, and a pistol to the right on a dressing table.  That was not a problem since they were told in advance of seeing it.

The Illinois State Police, the Hamilton County Sheriff and his deputies exhibited the very best of professionalism at our home, and we are grateful for their quick response to a very busy crime scene. The training we have had from Mike and Valinda Rowe of the Carmi Rifle Club served us well.  Training from the Appleseed Project was also quite valuable.  We have studied much of Massad Ayoob's knowledge over the years, and have learned much from other bloggers in the gun-blog community.

We are making changes to improve our home security, and your comments with helpful observations are of course welcome.


John said...

David. Sounds like your self assessment is accurate. And in a stressful situation you did much correctly, especially your interaction with the police. Bravo Zulu.

My wife and I will be talking about what happened to you and adjusting our plans accordingly.

Our go to house gun is a pistol with a light attached to the rail. And there is another powerful flashlight lying next to the pistol. (a paperback novel provides a pad for the pistol on top of the nightstand and keeps any lube from contact with the wood)

Thank you for sharing this, and it gives much to think about.

Anonymous said...

Well done, sir! The only mistake you made, which you have already noted, was opening the door to someone you didn't know. Thank goodness the storm door held.

We keep a 12 ga shotgun and 2 Gock 19s loaded within reach in the bedroom. We also keep a pistol (locked in pistol safes with easy simplex locks) in each room of the downstairs. I don't care what anyone says, a locked up and unloaded gun is useless and just might get you killed.

We'll be using your experience as a study guide during our next home security discussion.

Anonymous said...

You pointed out that having an unloaded weapon locked in a safe at the other of the house was not a good idea. With children in the house they need to be taken into consideration for your defense plans and I don't know their ages but having an unloaded gun in a safe.... really? You need to have LOADED guns ready for use, trying to load a gun while someone is breaking into the house is not optimal. And have ready access to them if they are in a safe, not stacked under other stuff. I'm not trying to be mean but an earlier commentator was made MORE than one mistake and you got lucky. TAKING one gun out of the safe but not one for your spouse? Then you locked the safe? A handgun with a flashlight on the rail as mentioned earlier on your nightstand is what I keep along with spare mags or speedloaders. Perhaps another flashlight also.

Pawpaw said...

You did well. In the end, no one was hurt and the property can be fixed. I don't know the laws of your state, but in my state, the guy would have put himself in jeopardy just as the first pane of glass was broken. I'd have capped him right then. But this is in my home state, and I don't understand the local laws. You did good.

Now, find a good lawyer, one with the personality of a rattlesnake and sue the everloving pants off the psychologist who ordered him released. Make complaints to the licensing board. They turned him loose on a Skype interview? And he stole cars, burglarized residents, etc, etc? The professional board needs to hear about that. Looud and clear. Sue him. Make him stand up in court and tell the judge how he put you in danger.

Anonymous said...

What would it have taken for you to shoot..if you were in fear of your have more temperance than most people..including mr

David aka True Blue Sam said...

PawPaw: I could not see him while the glass was being broken in Pattie's room because the curtains were closed. Open curtains would have changed the dymamics of that room and the outcome would have been affected. When I could see him, I was waiting for him to break the barrier, and he did not accomplish that while he was on the porch. He went into the garage though a broken window, but broke out with the car rather than coming through the man-door into the dining/living room. I am glad we only went car shopping instead of meeting with lawyers and law enforcement. The guy will have a better retirement system that you or I will. That sort of stinks, doesn't it?

Joel T. said...

Thanks for sharing details and your self-evaluation. It gives us something to apply in our own lives. That's one of the positive things to come out of this. No one got hurt except for the adrenaline induced stress may have added a few gray hairs.

The bum may have free meals, free healthcare and a free roof, but he'll never be a free man. If he gets out and stays on his meds, he still wouldn't be free. A burden would never be a free man.

That "doctor" needs his head examined but his shrink would probably use Skype too. Maybe a discussion is in order to get the Skype exam process changed in your county.

I hope you can take some time off, it sounds like you could use it.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

Holy Cow; he's been a bad boy:

David aka True Blue Sam said...

Re: What would it have taken for me to shoot? He was on the other side of the wall, apparently without a firearm. Had he come inside our living space I knew that our lives would have been in danger. He was wild and powerful. Had he come into my Mother-In-Law's bedroom through the window I would have shot immediately. Had he come in to the dining area there would have been a short time to order him out or down before shooting. There's a whole lot going through your mind at a time like that! I grabbed the .44 Redhawk for more than one reason. I shoot it well, the report of the .44 cracks your ears less than a .357, and if I had to shoot I wanted him down quickly.

Billll said...

Aside from not having a loaded gun immediately to hand, (and how many people think that actually necessary?) it sounds like you did everything about as right as could be expected. I'm pleased to hear that the only damage was to property and that your adrenaline levels should be near normal in about a week.

We had a fellow in somewhat the same mental state running amok around here last year. By the time the DAs were done he'd amassed some 130+ charges. No one expects to see him again in anyone's lifetime. Made for some good live TV though.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

Anonymous #2: Our home situation is such that the guns need to be locked up all the time. Recreational shooting and varmints in the yard are our primary shooting activities. Steps are already made to have more locked gun locations in the house in case we have another situation like this some day. We have learned valuable lessons from last Thursday night and are glad to share with our Internet friends so you all can enhance your home safety.

Knucklehead said...

May I ask about your windows he failed to break? Are they reinforced in any way?

David aka True Blue Sam said...

Our contractor says they are 1/4" plate glass. Tougher than I could believe! We watched the guy hit them repeatedly with various objects, and they stood up to him

Merle Morrison said...

You opened the door to someone who had been in an accident. That's the kind of thing decent people do.


David aka True Blue Sam said...

Merle: And he was telling the truth! He was in need of a second opinion on his psych evaluation. I reached my conclusion in about one second!

Mike Davenport said...

That crazy guy had no idea how lucky he was to have a well trained person in that home. He most likely would have died on my front porch and I would have been in a world of trouble! Kudos also to the Dep. Sherrif for not dropping the hammer on this nut job. Glad you and your family are ok. Good training, guns at the ready or not, saved his life.

Take care,
Mike, your neighbor :)

Kevin said...

Damn, David! Glad everyone is well. Sorry about all the property damage. I'm glad also that he didn't make it into the house and force you to defend yourself.