North Carolina Shootout Drives The Importance of “Head on a Swivel” Home

by Vern Evans
Police assist a fellow officer who was hit during the gunfight in Charlotte.

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A recent tragedy in North Carolina shows us that no matter how prepared you think you may be for a situation, you can’t overcome the problem of action vs. reaction. But, if you are careful to not rely on too many assumptions and always keep an eye on your surroundings, your chances are far better.

Initially, the situation seemed like many other law enforcement situations. One guy needs to be picked up for an arrest warrant, and doesn’t want to go. Deputy U.S. Marshals see this kind of thing all the time, so they came prepared to fight with the man. He was wanted for being a felon in possession of a firearm, so they expected the chance he might resist with a gun if he didn’t want to go willingly. And, resist he did, exchanging shots with them for a bit.

But, what the officers didn’t expect was that there was a second shooter. Once everyone got engrossed in the shootout with the guy they were trying to arrest (and ended up killing), four police officers were shot and four more injured by someone shooting from a completely different angle. According to witnesses, the shooting lasted for several minutes (an eternity in a gunfight).

After the shooting stopped, a three-hour standoff ensued, with police officers bringing in armored vehicles and poles to destroy the home until the second shooter was no longer a threat. Police say that there were two other people in the home, but did not specify whether they were taken in cold or warm.

Many Police Aren’t Accustomed To Serious, Organized Opposition

I’ve seen it over and over. When there’s video of a big group of police officers going to do a raid, they’ll all walk up to the house in a big group, all in the open. Because they’re usually up against some unorganized group of people who weren’t planning on being raided, this show of force is usually enough. When someone does threaten them, they withdraw and come back with armor to not take any chances.

But, this time, they came across a group of people who had just a little bit of a plan. By waiting until the first guy had everyone distracted, the rest of them were transformed into sitting ducks in an instant, and for long enough for at least eight of them to get shot.

What Everyone (Police Or Not) Can Learn From This

It’s completely natural for a person to get tunnel vision when there’s a deadly threat. In addition to not seeing things off to the sides, even a few degrees, the human brain tends to ignore sounds, lose fine motor control and suffer a whole host of other disabilities to focus on what’s important: winning the fight. But, these responses evolved (or were created if that’s your belief) some time ago, long before there were firearms and other ranged weapons that could make a threat materialize so quickly.

So, the first thing is obvious: you need to train to look around, and not just to move your head and make your instructor happy. You should actually be looking and seeing what’s going on, and maybe even training to deal with a sudden target appearing a few degrees off of the main one. Or, have someone hold up fingers, and you have to both look and see how many they’re holding up.

For the average concealed carry person, you’re not going to be participating in raids, but if you do participate in them, some rethinking of the “walking up in a crowd” strategy needs to be done. There’s no way to eliminate all threats, but you should at least have someone keeping an eye on everyone’s backs and sides.

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