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Tactical Scenario-Robbery Gone Bad

by George Wehby   |  July 5th, 2011 42

In the video below, two armed robbers storm a convenience store and attempt to rob the place.  There is one customer and two clerks.  While robbing the store and demanding money, the clerk plays stupid and claims to not speak English.  That sends the robbers into a rage and they start killing everyone.  Now let me set the scenario.  You are ordered to the ground before you get a chance to blink.  The shotgun wielding robber is yelling at the clerk and suddenly shoots him.  You are carrying concealed. What do you do?


I would hope that I immediately break leather and commence to initiate a skillful gunfight taking out both robbers without sustaining a single wound.  That would most likely not be the case.  This is nasty.  This scenario is probably one of the biggest “odds stacked against you” scenarios you could face.  I am not one of those guys who assume he would do all the right things, but in this case I would need to in order to come out on top.  Obviously, the ideal would be to see them coming in and take some action then, but that is not the scenario. Enjoy.

  • LMLarsen

    George, this is definitely a worst-case scenario. I started to write out a detailed plan of engagement, but realized that in reality I would likely wet my pants, draw and start firing…

    • http://Yahoo Jimmie Duncan

      The shot gun is the worst thing you have to face in a hostage situation. If you clear leather you better not miss the man with the shotgun or you will die on the spot. im this case you are in deep do-do.

  • Dune

    This is one of the worst scenarios or scenario types that I can think of, because even armed, it's the sort of situation that you might not be afforded an opportunity to react in a manner that would benefit anyone. It also puts into clear focus how the timing of situations and circumstances play a key role in our responses. Viewing the situation from the surviving witness's point of view, you ask yourself when the best time to engage would be. I think that few seconds when both suspects were focused on the register might have offered an opportunity to draw (and here's where training is so important) IF you were capable of drawing and engaging starting from a prone position.

    Realistically, it's hard to say what the right response would have been in a situation like this. The assailants were in a homicidal and unhesitating mindset, but there was no way to know that before they began executing their victims. Quite often compliance is more the goal of would-be robbers than homicide.

    I believe that when they killed the clerk that was the sign to fight, and I can only hope that I would have made the right decision.

    Then again, I don't have a CCP for the state that I currently live in, and I hope that situational awareness and dumb luck will keep me from ever having to face an ordeal like this.

    • Robert M

      I had nearly the same thoughts while watching this video. In my mind the time to start putting up a fight would have been after the cashier was shot. At that point the entire robbery escalates to murder, and you'd have to assume you're next, as at that point they have nothing to lose.

      They could have easily just shot everyone on the ground as they left, and speaking for myself, if I had ANY even slight advantage at that point it would be time to exploit it.

  • Carlos

    Very difficult to keep cool in this suprised situation. Run for cover and draw. I believe if you are unarmed you have a better chance of living, even though you might be shot, if you run out of the store. Facedown, you are at their mercy, or lack of.

    • C J

      As soon as the robbers had evryone lay face down, that is the signal to start running/fighting. They were masked, so they wouldn't be worried about being identified. The only reason for them to have everyone lay down, is to make it easier to kill them later. There are too many stories of emplyees and customers laying face down, head shot.

  • Antonio

    The problem is, being dormant, you have no control — you're just hoping, praying, leaving your fate in the criminals' hands. Acting gives you some control, even if minimal. I'm in Jersey where carry for non-LE is unheard of. So in this situation I'd potentially be the victim of both the criminals and the lawmakers. Either way, doesn't make me feel good.

  • Randy

    This is an example of a situation where the perps need to be shot immediatly. If you wait till the clerk is shot then it will be too late. This is why we carry concealed and why we act when faced with ability, opportunity and jeapordy.

  • ThatOneGuy

    Ignorant sheep. Cellphones won't save your life. Is this what this country has become? People too afraid to defend themselves? I read an article about dog attacks and the brilliant authors skillful defense technique is, and I'm not even joking, lay down and curl up into the fetal position! This was their professional recommended advice!

    • Robert M

      I was the victim of a pitbull bite on my right forearm a few years back. That sucker held on tight enough that I actually flung it off my arm several feet, but what hurt more than that was my left hand that I slightly shattered against it's thick skull, trying desperately to beat it senseless.

      Had I followed your mentioned "brilliant author's" advice, I'd probably be missing my face today instead of having a few small scars on my arm and minor arthritis.

      Passivity does has it's place…I just prefer not to visit often.

    • Robert M

      Personally I am still waiting for the CellphonePistol. A century ago, no Gentleman's ensemble was complete without a pocket pistol, it was an accessory like a watch or belt. This is basically the state of the cellphone today.

      I think it is time to combine the two into one must-have product.

      I guarantee one thing: stickup robberies for you smartphone would become non-existent.

      • Curtis

        best idea ever!

  • Bill

    This is definitely a circumstance where situational awareness probably isn't going to help much unless you could get to a remote part of the store before the shooting started. Putting any kind of distance between you and the attacker would help. Unfortunately for the clerks, someone almost always has to be killed before you can really recognize the seriousness of the situation.

  • Ian Michael Gumby

    If you shoot before they shoot, you risk causing more carnage and you assume that you can hit and kill both gunmen before they can pull the trigger.

    If/When they shoot, at that time, its clear that if you don't react, they will kill everyone who could be a witness to their murder. That would be the first time you should react and draw,shoot while taking cover. (Or, maybe drawing as you run to take cover in a defensive position.) You're not LE and being a dead hero doesn't protect your family down the road.

  • Antonio

    Another thought occurred to me. We practice hitting moving targets and keeping a sight picture while moving because it's challenging. If I'm by myself in close quarters with an armed criminal, I "think" I can move fast enough laterally to make a typical thug miss, at least once. But as I write this I'm thinking, boy, I wouldn't want to find out if I'm right or not.

  • Henry Bowman

    Draw and fire, and keep firing, while you have the advantage of surprise. The last thing the bad guys expect is armed resistence. And historically, you won't have to shoot all three; when the first one goes down, there is a better than even chance that the others will run. Having one of their number one the floor and leaking blood isn't in their playbook.

    The greatest Englishman of the last century, Winston Churchill, put it best; better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

  • Tom

    Here's my suggestion for the proper thing to do. If I see what is starting to take place and have a reasonable opportunity to successfully intervene, I'd attempt to disable both of the animals. Whatever happens to me afterward as far as LE is concerned would be worth the saving of lives.

  • Kipling

    Set you mind that you will probably die but that you have to get those two in order to protect the other innocents – especially if my three girls are with me. If the shotgun is distracted then you shoot the other gun man and dive for cover away from the other hostages and try to get the shotgunner. Need to be packing something that will take them down on a first shot evening if it is not a kil shot – .45. If you have a concealed carry wallet – a gun hoster designed to look like a wallet – you could offer it up and then shoot.

  • Mark in California

    This is why I take extra training and compete in IDPA.

    Tactical sequence, moving to cover or concealment, shooting under stress all apply.

    • jim

      Mark in California. IDPA is shooting in competition, not defending your life. Totally different. I hope the extra training you are talking about is real handgun combat lethal force (real life) training.



  • http://Peacenik C.P. Langford

    I carry guns for a living, every day. We used to carry shotguns; nobody ever failed to qualify first time with the shotgun. In this scenario it makes sense to shoot the guy with the shotgun first if possible then shoot the person with the pistol. Most people are unbelievably bad shots with a handgun under pressure. I haven't been in this situation, but I doubt I would wait for the thugs to take the first shot.

  • http://hotmail Robert

    In 1991 I was living in Central California. I was involved in a hold up gone wrong. Anyway I stopped by the Convince Store to grab a soda and other items. I was in the back by the cooler when I heard the cleck tell a guy to get out! I turned to see what was going on. I could see a man by the door with his hand in a bag pointing at the clerk. A woman screamed and ran downn the iles. I ducked down I could hear my heart through my ears. It all happened so slowly. The clerk ducked behind the counter the guy came in and fired a round at the clerk. I drew my weapon and let off 7 shots in the ceiling.The guy ran the clerk was unharmed.I immediately left the store after the clerk urged me to before the police arrived. I was terrified but I was ok. 2 weeks later I returned to the store after the incident and was thanked by the clerk.I noticed the new security glass and cameras

    • Robert M

      I would like to think that after that experience he'd seriously second-guess committing another robbery. Unfortunately though, probably not.

      You really could say that you saved HIS life that day.

      • http://hotmail Robert

        It shook me up for a long time. The what If's kept running thru my mind. If I shot him or he shot me.But I got over it and have been carrying concealed eversince everywhere I can. I don't consider myself a hero just fortunate.

      • Steve

        I'm sorry Robert but you either need much more training or don't bother carrying. IF you pull your weapon in defense of your life or someone else' you DO NOT waste bullets shooting into the ceiling. What if there had been a second or even third accomplice acting passive like any other customer just waiting for who was going to react? Now you are possibly low or out of ammo and THE threat to be eliminated. I'm sure you were scared silly. I likely would be too. But that is what proper training is designed for, to condition your body and mind offset as a natural reaction to a deadly threat.

        If you have to pull your weapon and/or feel justified in firing it, the ONLY proper target to shoot at is the threat to you and the other innocents. Honestly if you are incapable of doing that, you are a danger to yourself and those around you. Not meant to put you down, but that is a statistical fact.

        Practice practice practice. And when truly threatened, eliminate the threat period. Now having said all that, in all due honesty YOU were not threatened, and in many jurisdictions it is your lawful duty to retreat regardless what is happening to others. If your life is not directly threatened you unfortunately do not have legal authority to insert yourself into the situation no matter how badly you or any of us would want to.

        I'm glad it turned out ok for all concerned.

        • G-rant

          @steve replying to Robert

          Actually, Robert shooting into the ceiling was a decent response from a combined law & danger perspective. He showed armed resistance in a way unlikely to injure bystanders or be sued by the criminals later. And he got the ideal response from the bad guys- they ran, so no one ended up hurt.

          In an ideal world, the perfect outcome would be to shoot both criminals once each in the head before they had a chance to fire, but we all know that's unlikely in the real world, and undesirable from a legal standpoint.

          Granted, ideally Robert should have only fired once into the ceiling as a warning shot (the robber was not menacing him). But I have to give credit where credit is due, at least he had the courage to whip out his pistol.

    • Donald Conner

      That's exactly right, and why a I carry 3 3/4" 629 extensively reworked by Cylinder and slice with 165 grain Cor-Bon HP ammo. Cor-Bon told me the round would "go right through you and leave a terrible whole on it's way though and out". I expect it might well nearly totally destroy any limb, and leave The Evil One with more to think about than me-like getting the hell out of there. The shotgun man has to go 1st, then the others as opportunity presents itself. Lot's of good people here on this one, and very clear thinking. Never forget, we who go conceled and well armed are the sheepdogs, the criminals are the wolves, and most people fall in the class of "sheeples", easily frightened and brainwashed by an excessively liberarl press and educational system, backed by nitwits, halfwits, and dimwits in Congress.. I'm sure you all know it is a criminal offense in Churchill's beloved country to injure someone who is committing a violent criminal act. God save them.

  • http://hotmail Robert

    So take the first shot if you can. because otherwise you might not get another chance. Suck up the fear and do what you have to do to survive.Deal with the Police later.

  • bigjohn

    All of this depends on where you are in the store when the bad guys enter, how close you are to cover or concealment. What kind of weapon are you carring and how proficient your are with your weapon. If you have cover which is very unlikely try to move to concealment position between isles. force one of he bad guys to come and look for you. Hopefullly you want it to be the one with the shotgun, he is the most leathal. You want to shoot the one with the shotgun first, at least 2 three times if you have a high capacity weapon. The other gunman will get rattled seeing their partner go down and hopefullly rund or throw their arm off. Either way once the shotgunner goes down you have to contine to shoot immediate with dynamic explosive reaction to the other gunman. You do not have time to second guess yourself, no time for hesitation. You must shoot and continoue to shoot, second nature reaction until the threat and the bad guy has stopped their agression. Remember concealment is not the same as cover. There is very little in our homes or in a store that will provide good cover against a shotgun. A shotgun at close range will penetrate most things in our homes or in any store. Start shooting as soon as you see the threat. Do not provide lag time for the robber while you make up your mind if you are going to shoot or not. Lagtime can get you killed. Remember you may get shot protecting your life or the life of others but you will surely die if the gunman has you lying down or moves you from one place to another like a store storage room or cooler.

  • bigjohn

    shoot out or street fight. You must use dynamic explosive force to end the agression. Remeber there is not such thing as a fair fight. You try to avoid confrontation if you can but if someone pushes you then you punch then in the nose or face as hard as you can. Do not push them back. You want to end their agression first. NO one wants to see their own blood. Fight, shoot to win and live. Leave the fair fighting crap for the movies. It not the real world.

  • bigjohn

    George Wehby, you are correct. Draw and fire immediately at the person with the most leathal weapon, in this case the shotgun. You might get shot by the one with the pistol but be able to return fire. If you get shot by that shotgun at close range perhaps not. Continue to shoot as fast as you can. double tap both suspects if you can. Shoot them any where you can. Even in the theigh so that they can't escape if that is the only good shot you have. I prefer the chest, head, or under the arm pit if that body position is presented to me. However I would not rule out other parts of their bodies either if it would prevent them from continuing with their agression. The goin always works too on male or female.

  • K.R. Reinschmidt

    I hope to God that I never find myself in that position. However, when I quit drinking and started to pursue the training that I needed (in my mind) and started to carry every day I mentally prepare myself for being forced to defend myself and innocent victims. These perps displayed extreme force with the weapons they carried and faces covered. I would have to present my weapon at the first moment that I felt I had an advantage and immediately start putting rounds in both perps. I mentally prepare myself 1) when I put my weapon on. 2) frequently during the day. Reminding myself to take the safety off. This is the worst scenario. Odds are someone is going to die. It should not be the innocent. If you cannot make this decision, don't carry. Also don't carry if you are not willing to go to the range at least twice a month. I prefer to go to the range by myself so I can focus. If you bring a buddy you tend to horse around and talk to much.

  • http://Yahoo Jack Lee

    Here in the Northeast; Conn, Mass, New York, if a law abiding citizen with a gun would have stopped the killings, he would be in prison for life. Here in the North we put the criminal rights before the law abiding citizens. To stop them would be a violation of their freedom of speech. The Northeast has become a sick place to live.

    • Wayne Brockwell

      I'm on my 3term with ccw lived in md. for many years . finally moved to n.c. I know that some time we have to stay where we work .but when you retire move your ass to where you have a right to protect your self. good luck wayne b.

  • mqd123

    Take cover and shoot first. They're there for the money, they won't stay for the fight. Don't ever put yourself in a situation where you have to depend on the kindness of strangers. Especially, if the strangers are armed and are pointing the business end in your face.

  • Mike

    This one is obviously worst case. It is a prime example of why we need to practice remaining in condition yellow, relaxed alertness, when we are in public. Two responses come to mind.

    Keep cool!! Take a breath!

    1) Run to cover and engage. You might scream "don't shoot!!!" while formulating your next move for effect. Keep your strong side away so they can't see what your doing while drawing your weapon. Engage targets at will, watch the background, shoot the leader first.

    2) If the shotgun is close, get "inside" it and engage the scumbag with your hands, elbows, knees, head, bottle etc. Control the shotgun muzzle by trapping it under your arm and wrap your hand under it and jerk it up and back. The shotgun will prolly go bang, be ready and use this as further distraction. Commence to use the buttstock to beat the idiot. Try to keep him between you and the other one so if the other one decides to shoot they will "help" you subdue said idiot.

    Laying on the ground is not an option I would choose. They are NOT expecting anyone to disobey. Anyone not complying will definitely get inside their OODA loop and you will seize the advantage.

    Think tactically when you enter the store…what am I gonna do if……? Where is cover? Back door? Cameras? All this takes about two seconds and could save your life.

    Cellphones are useless, mostly. Better to have a gun in your hand than a cop on the phone.



  • keith

    The problem was all of the victims were in condition "white".

    Unaware of their surroundings. Try this senario: The customer making the purchase has a ccw. Before seeing the gunmen he should be in condition yellow; aware of the surroundings. Upon seeing the masked gunmen (instead of freezing with fear) imediately goes to condition red. As he is drawing his weapon yell at the clerk "CALL 911!". To the masked gunmen "DROP YOUR WEAPON" 2 shots center mast one between the eyes. One down the other one is so confused they don't know whats going on BAM! BAM! BAM! The second one goes down. If you think thats not possible, you need more training.

  • Bob

    Kieth has it right. Lee has the opportunity seeing them enter with ski masks on he should have engaded imediately. They probably would have retreated then and there.

  • http://same Bob K.

    If you can shoot, provided your life or another's is in. Serious jeopardy, then shoot, but only if you have the "drop" on the BADDIES! But, you will have had training in a oCCW class! Be smart, and always be ready. Remember, too, that you're going to have. To face the BAD guy's lawyers! They will be anxious to drain your bank account! So, be prepared,at all times and get trained!

  • Jeff

    A real life version fo the Kobayashi Maru scenario from Star Trek… Be Aware, Be trained, and hope for the best-

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