Episode 301 with Heather Reeves
Rob- Welcome to episode 301 of Self-Defense Gun Stories. We’re glad you found us if you’re well trained.. and if you’re still learning about armed defense. I’m Rob Morse and we’re joined this week by firearms instructor Heather Reeves. What has been keeping you so busy?
Heather- Hi, Rob. I’ve been enjoying family time over the holidays, working on a few home projects that I’ve been putting off, and taking advantage of down time from teaching high schoolers.
How about you?
Rob- I’ve been traveling. I visited with family in anti-gun, New York. Traveling through this Christmas storm was hard.
We received five new ratings and two new comments on iTunes (321, 177).
Disappointed in Colorado said I appreciate the very important information shared in these podcasts. I realize how little I understand of the law. I’m definitely going to keep listening. Thanks, and merry Christmas.
Heather- Well, Disappointed, thank you for leaving us a note, and Merry Christmas to you too.
One listener only identified himself as a string of numbers. He said, Love the variety of real stories and situations. You have a consistent format, but great guests that add flavor.
Rob- Thanks to that numbered but un-named listener. Our instructors bring us new ideas every week.
Michelle sent us a message that she and her sisters were exploring a tunnel near their town. They heard a gunshot from down the tunnel and her sisters saw the muzzle flash. They recognized the gunshot and ran. They said they reacted quickly because they listened to so many of these podcasts.
Heather- They did their homework so they knew what to do.
Now, as a school teacher and a firearms instructor I’m suggesting you do your homework and go to the iTunes store where you subscribe to podcasts and tell new gun owners why you listen.
Rob- You teach Chemistry?
Heather- That is one of the classes I teach.
Rob- and you’re giving out homework over the Christmas break.
Heather- Of course I am, though it is for extra credit and pass/fail.
Rob- Hmm. I think self-defense comes in shades of gray rather than pass-fail.
Heather- Here in the US, we defend ourselves with a firearm several thousand times a day. We look at a few recent examples to see what we can learn. The links back to the original news articles are on our podcast webpage.
Our first story took place last week in Pahrump, Nevada.
Rob- First story- Do you have a handgun nearby when you’re asleep in bed?
You were asleep in your bed a little after 9:30 at night. You wake up when you hear an unfamiliar noise coming from your kitchen. You roll out of bed and grab your handgun. You have your gun in your hands when an intruder kicks down your bedroom door. You shoot the intruder twice in the upper-center chest as he comes through the fatal funnel of the doorway. The intruder immediately falls to the floor. You stop shooting. You stay at the scene and call 911 for help.
News reports don’t mention when you put away your firearm. You meet law enforcement when they arrive. You also give the officers a brief statement.
Emergency Medical Services treat the attacker. He is first driven to a local transport pad and then flown by a medical helicopter to the nearest level 1 trauma center in Las Vegas. The attacker is immediately placed in critical care.
Police identify the firearm that the armed attacker was carrying. It is a shotgun that was stolen the night before during a home invasion-burglary at another address.
Later, the intruder was identified as Shawn Richards. Richards has a history of criminal convictions. If he survives, he will be charged with home invasion, with grand larceny of a firearm, burglary, being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, and with probation violations.
According to the Nye county sheriff’s office, the homeowner will not face any charges.
Original News Sources-
- Armed homeowner opens fire on shotgun-toting crook who invaded residence. Seriously wounded suspect was wanted on probation violation.
- NSCO: Intruder shot in Pahrump home invasion was ‘wanted man’
- Sheriff’s Office: Alleged home invader shot by resident in Pahrump
- Homeowner shoots, seriously injures intruder in Pahrump, police say
- Man shot while committing home invasion in Pahrump, Nye County police say
Heather- I love that this homeowner had a firearm to defend themselves. That saved their life when they faced a serious bad guy. I also like it that they kept their doors and windows locked. It was critically important that they stayed in their room and made the armed attacker break down their door and come to them.
They stayed at the scene and gave a report to the responding officers.
Rob- What else do you see in this story?
Heather- Nevada is a castle doctrine state. That means the local prosecutor has the legal burden to prove that the defender did not face an immediate, lethal, and unavoidable threat of death or great bodily injury in his home. Nevada is also a stand-your-ground state, meaning the defender did not have a legal duty to retreat. Both laws helped this defender with his legal case.
Rob- I have a legal case if I defend myself in my home?
Heather- You pointed a lethal weapon at someone. You used lethal force and put someone in the hospital. You have to show that those actions were legally justified. You have to show that something even worse would have happened if you didn’t use that degree of force, and potentially took another person’s life.
Rob- That isn’t what we learn on police drama’s on the TV, or from the newspaper reports. When do your students learn about that?
Heather- During our Concealed Handgun class laws and legal ramifications are covered and then during our Think Fast class students have to put those skills into action and work on issuing verbal commands and further understanding of the potential ramifications if you cannot articulate your reasonings and rationales for what you did and how you did it. (HEATHER, THAT IS ONE SENTENCE. SAY IT WITH FOUR SIMPLER SENTENCES.) FIRST, OUR STUDENTS LEARN..
Rob- How is it possible that a person armed with a handgun stopped someone who was armed with a semi-automatic shotgun?
Heather- Beginners often ask questions like that. The answer is time. The good guy needed less time than the attacker needed. The defender knew his attacker would have to come through his bedroom door. The defender can hide behind the bed and have his gun already pointed at the doorway. He doesn’t need to spend time aiming later. All he has to do is press the trigger and the bad guy gets shot several times.
In contrast, the bad guy doesn’t know where the good guy is. The bad guy has to break down the door, then move into the room and search, identify, and then move his gun to aim at the defender. That takes time. The defender was quicker.
Rob- The defender also knew what to do so he put himself in a defensive situation where he would win. When do your students learn about defending their family in their home?
Heather- Our home defense course covers how to use your dwelling to your advantage in attacks like this.
Rob- Is there more you want to cover from this story?
Heather- I’m good. Our second story happened in Chicago, Illinois.
Rob- Second Story- Are you carrying concealed in public after dark?
You and your girlfriend are at a shopping mall. Your car is parked in front of Buffalo Wild Wings, but the news stories don’t say if you ate there. It is 8:30, so well after dark. You and your girlfriend walk to your car and get inside. Three strange men pull open the doors of your car and try to get inside as well. The news reports aren’t clear, but it sounds like they tried to get into the back seat of your car while you and your girlfriend were in the front.
You’re legally carrying concealed. You present your firearm and shoot two of the three carjackers. They run. You stay at the scene and call 911. You give a statement to the police when they arrive. You show them your Illinois Firearms Owners Identification card and your carry permit.
Police arrest one of the wounded robbers. He is charged with battery, and also has outstanding warrants. There is a person with the same name who was involved in prior robberies.
You are not charged with a crime.
Heather- That is scary. I’m glad our defender was armed.. And he did it legally in Illinois which is important too. He recognized an immediate, lethal, and unavoidable threat of death or great bodily injury. He defended himself and his girlfriend. He stopped shooting when the threat ended. He didn’t chase the bad guys across the parking lot. He stayed at the scene and called for help. He also gave a statement to the police when they arrived.
Rob- Defending yourself in your car isn’t easy.
Heather- It isn’t, and we don’t know if he did. He might have opened his car door and then shot into the back seat while he was standing outside. We don’t know those details.
Rob- Since you brought up that scenario, would that have been legal if I had made my escape and was safely outside my car and then used lethal force to shoot at people who were inside my car?
Heather- Maybe. The bad guys may have said they were armed. You were justified to use lethal force until you and your girlfriend had escaped to safety. That situation could be hundreds of feet away from where you started.
Rob- When do you talk about issues like that, and do your students ever get to shoot from a seated position?
Heather- We shoot from the seated position in our defensive night series that we put on each summer, and incorporate seated positions into Think Fast and our advanced pistol courses. It always creates some great conversation as to how to avoid muzzling yourself or the people you’re with and makes people think about how awkward it is to try and draw and then get to a position you can shoot while accounting for each round that comes out of your gun.
Our third story happened in Rome, Georgia.
Rob- First this message from Amanda Suffecool.
Rob- Third story- Are you armed at home during the early evening?
You and your wife are separating. She is moving out of your home. Her father is helping her. So far you’ve agreed on what is hers and what is yours. It is Friday right after work and you are carrying your wife’s possessions out of your home and handing them to her and her dad.
It appears from police reports that the father-in-law started issuing verbal insults and then verbally threatening you. You retreat to your house. You tell him to stay outside. You tell him you’re armed. Several times you tell him to leave your home. Your father-in-law reaches to grab you and you shoot him. Now he stops moving toward you so you stop shooting. You back up and call 911. Emergency Medical Services pronounce your attacker dead at the scene.
You give a statement to the police. You also give them your security video that shows your attacker entering your home and you shouting for him to leave. You are arrested. It takes 10 weeks for the police to say you won’t be charged.
Quote, “[the] Rome Police Department detectives in this case had probable cause to arrest this defendant on Oct. 7, 2022. They continued to work the case. Evidence developed that pointed to Mr. Benjamin Cox having a valid justification defense under several statutes, including self-defense, defense of habitation and the stand your ground statute. The pending charges have been dismissed against Mr. Cox.” Close quote.
Heather- I’m glad our defender was armed. I’m also glad he retreated as far into his home as he could. He defended himself when he faced an immediate threat from a larger man. He stopped shooting when that threat ended. He also had video that showed he retreated and that the attacker advanced and created the confrontation.
Rob- I don’t usually select stories like this one because the lessons can be complicated. What would you like your students to do in a similar situation?
Heather- I suggest you rent an off duty police officer to supervise the exchange. If you don’t have that, then rent the men from the local Judo and self-defense gym. That is the same sort of advice we give for eviction, for domestic abuse situations, and for other disputes.
Rob- That could have saved someone’s life and saved the defender from having to shoot someone.
Heather- I’m surprised that the defender’s lawyer didn’t mention it, but we don’t know that the defender had a lawyer before the separation.
Rob- Where are we going for our last story?
Heather- Our fourth story took place in Ludlow, Kentucky.
Rob- Fourth story- Do you have a firearm near your bed?
You live in a bedroom community across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a little before 5 on a Monday morning when you’re woken up by the sound of breaking glass out on the street and the sound of car alarms going off. The news reports are not clear if you grabbed your gun when you heard the car alarms or when someone started beating on your front door and shouting for help. Also, the news doesn’t say if you only heard the attacker pick up your front porch furniture and smash your front door, or if you also saw him do it.
You have your gun in your hands when you open the front door and tell the intruder to move away and stop smashing your house. You say you’re armed. The intruder who was asking for help a few seconds ago says quote, “I’m not scared of you.” close quote.
The intruder steps forward and tries to grab you. You shoot him. Now the attacker stops and runs. News reports don’t say if you stepped back into your home or if you stayed on the porch as you called 911 for help.
You tell the dispatcher, “I just shot somebody.” The dispatcher says that police are already on their way. The female dispatcher also tells you to put your gun down and have your hands out of your pockets when the officers arrive.
You stay at the scene and talk to the policemen. You also give them security video and audio from your front porch cameras.
The police find the wounded attacker in front of your home. Emergency Medical Services transport the attacker to the hospital with a gunshot wound to his neck.
The County Commonwealth’s Attorney said, “When someone that we can only describe as a criminal keeps coming towards you, I think it was completely reasonable for the homeowner to fire in self-defense. Well, we know he [the attacker] broke into a number of different vehicles, caused quite a bit of damage. He was trying to break into at least one residence.”
You are not named in the police reports or by the press since you are not being charged with a crime.
Heather- I like that our defender was armed. I couldn’t tell if the defender was on the phone before he had to confront his attacker. In either case, I like that they were on the phone with the police so quickly. It looks like the defender had shatter resistant storm windows at the front of his house. I love that since it bought the defender more time. The homeowner also recognized a threat when the attacker moved toward him and tried to grab him. He stopped shooting when the attacker stopped moving forward so the defender then had time and distance to escape. The defender stayed at the scene and called for help. He also had a video that showed the attacker beating on his home and acting erratically.
Rob- Normal people don’t shout for help and then threaten us the next minute.
Heather- We can argue that our defender would have been safer if he’d stayed inside. Maybe the police would have arrived in time, and maybe not. It would have been an easier legal defense, and it could have been an easier physical defense as well.
Rob- That is the graduate class in self-defense.
Heather- It is, but there are a lot of actions that work. We’re talking about defense that works better and more often.
Our first story had an experienced criminal with a shotgun. The best defense was for the defender to stay inside his bedroom. This attacker was not as great a threat so this less-than-perfect defense also worked.
Rob- I’m seeing that these honest citizens had to use their firearms because they could not let the attacker push them onto their backs and then get their gun. That armed defense takes time and distance. When do you talk to your students about that?
Heather- We encourage our students to take 6 months of a grappling martial art and to be physically fit so that they can act in whatever manner they need to when the time comes. There’s no one size fits all ideal fight for your life.
Rob- That wraps up this episode. Heather, thank you for helping us again. Where can we learn more about you?
Rob- After you look at Heather classes, then please leave her a message on the podcast episode webpage.
If you have a favorite co-host, then I’ve made a listing so you can find all of their episodes. You can also do that on the podcast player in your cell phone, but you have to select the episodes by hand.
Heather- We share this podcast with you for free.
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Rob- This show is part of the Self-defense radio network. Find more pro-freedom podcasts at sdrn.us
I’m Rob Morse. We’ll be back next week with more Self-Defense Gun Stories.