Anatomy of a Mugging Gone Bad

Stupid Criminal

Stupid Criminal

Though, “bad” depends on whose perspective you take.

(As relayed to YankeeGunNuts verbally by the intended victim; names and certain personal details have been changed by request)

Joe* did his best to enjoy retirement.  A recently-retired engineer, this grandfather kept busy with hobbies and family, and took care of himself as well.  Every night, after dinner, he would walk in the park near his home.

Joe’s city wasn’t the same place that it had been when he was growing up.  Jobs left the city, never to return.  Crime and urban decay had taken hold and changed it forever.  Joe’s neighborhood wasn’t bad, but it bordered some unsavory parts of town.  While Joe was very open-minded and polite, and harbored no hate in his heart for any group of people, he also wasn’t blind, dumb or gullible.  That’s why he had acquired a handgun permit, and a .380 pistol.  He carried the pistol in his front pants pocket, in a pocket holster.


One evening, while it was still light out, Joe headed to the park for his walk, and saw a tall swarthy man with a paunch off to the side of the walking path, Hispanic perhaps, having a loud and animated conversation on his telephone, probably with a woman he thought, based on what he heard of the conversation.  Joe took notice of the man, and began his walk in the middle of the path, like always.  The man continued with his call as Joe passed by, and Joe, while not dropping his guard, took the situation at face value.  He even felt a little guilty about being suspicious of the man because he was a minority.

On his next circuit of the walking path, Joe saw the man still talking on the phone, alternating talking and listening while gesturing with his head & hands as if the person he was talking to could see him.  He was listening as Joe passed by him the second time.

That’s when Joe felt a hand on his shoulder, roughly turning him around.  The man with the phone, who wasn’t holding a phone anymore.  His other hand held a knife at chest level, pointed at Joe.  He stood close, towering over Joe.  He told Joe to “hand it all over”.  He didn’t seem agitated or angry; he seemed like he knew what he was doing, and that his assessment of Joe was that he was an old man that posed no threat.

Joe tried to remain calm and still as he mentally kicked himself repeatedly in the ass, and weighed his options.

He acted a little confused to buy some time to think.  Then Joe nodded his head, to signal that he understood and would comply, then he reached his right hand down into his pocket.  His heart pounded in his chest.  He drew the .380 (which left its holster in the pocket like it was supposed to, he later remembered with satisfaction), turned the gun upwards and sideways (palm up) as soon as it cleared his pocket and fired twice as fast as he could at the mugger’s center mass, while attempting to back up out of knife range. He thought he only fired once, so close together were the shots.

The would-be mugger staggered backwards and fell to his knees, yelling in pain, arm crossed over his chest, hand gripping his shoulder.  Joe tried to stay calm as he covered the man in case he tried to come after him, as he called 911.  The man moaned as he knelt on the ground, saying that his shoulder burned, begging forgiveness, begging Joe not to shoot him.  He awkwardly fell backwards, and lay there, still moaning.  Joe tried to stay calm, worried about his heart.  He saw blood on the man’s abdomen, but none on his shoulder.  He thinks to look at his gun, which seems to be in battery and ready to fire again if he needs it.  Despite the awkward grip he used when firing, the gun cycled properly for both shots.

Though he didn’t know it at the time, Joe’s bullets both entered the man’s lower-middle abdomen and traveled up through his chest to stop underneath the skin of his shoulder on his back.  They were probably hot after their short but fast journey, thus the mugger’s complaints of “burning”.

The police finally arrive, and an ambulance.  Joe stays calm, having put his gun away as the police rolled up, tells the officer that he was attacked and that he defended himself.  He surrenders the .380 when asked to.  Detectives arrive, and Joe repeats his story as he remembers it, alarmed at how hard it is to remember basic details of what just happened to him.  They take him to the police station.  He was not handcuffed.  He doesn’t think to ask for a lawyer.  He didn’t do anything wrong.

The man that he shot, Joe is told, is a career street criminal and substance-abuser with a very long record who has mugged people at knifepoint before.  The detectives do their job and grill Joe on the details of what happened, over and over, especially the part about the knife.  And then they reveal why they are asking the questions over and over: they cannot find a knife at the scene.  They found the handle of a knife, but no blade.  They ask him to explain that.

Joe feels his world close in.  He racks his brain.  He saw a knife blade, held horizontially, aimed at his chest & neck.  He saw it, he knows he saw it.  Or did he?  he needs bifocals to read, and the knife was pretty close.  But he didn’t leave the scene until the police arrived and no one came along and altered the scene while he was there.  He sticks to his guns, and repeats what he remembers.  He saw a knife.

Joe stays at the police department for a while longer, and then is brought home after being told that he should remain available for questioning.  He begins calling around for an attorney to represent him.  The detectives, unbeknownst to Joe, sent evidence technicians to the scene with a metal detector, to see what that can turn up.

They find small fragments of shiny flat metal in the gravel of the walking path where the shooting occurred; the pieces of a knife blade, shattered by one of Joe’s bullets most likely.

This is enough to satisfy them that Joe was both truthful with them, and that he was faced with a situation that justified his use of deadly force.  They call Joe to inform him of this.

Joe then awaits the decision of the prosecutor.  Days go by with Joe nearly overwhelmed by apprehension over the possibility of a criminal trial.  The answer finally comes: No charges are filed against Joe.  A weight lifts from Joe’s shoulders.

The mugger recovered from his injuries and was charged with the crime he attempted to commit; he pled guilty, and was sent to prison (again), with a long period of mandatory parole afterwards.  A substance abuse program was part of his sentence as well.  He has not attempted to sue Joe, though Joe is still worried about the possibility, perhaps because he might have said more than he should have to the police.

Joe vowed to stop taking situations at face value, and to never let his kind nature override his fears.  If that means someone has to get their nose out of joint because Joe has to watch someone that makes him nervous, so be it.

He also vowed to ask for an attorney before talking with the police, to protect himself from civil liability as well as criminal charges.

And he traded in the .380 for a 9mm, after deciding that the .380 just didn’t have enough energy to make him feel comfortable relying on it.

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