Defender Kills Innocent Bystander While Shooting at Fleeing Thieves

This is one of the major reasons that I tell you NOT to pursue fleeing suspects, even if what they’ve taken is valuable. The cost to this man of not practicing Active Self Protection will be FAR higher than the $50,000 he lost!

Original video with news story of the attack:


What does this victim teach us about protecting ourselves from an attack?


  1. One of the five pillars of lawful, moral self-defense is “imminence,” (get a nutshell here: or the whole concept here: ). Imminence means the threat is happening RIGHT NOW, that it’s neither too late nor too early for you to defend yourself! The standard of imminence is seen as a triad of ability, opportunity, and jeopardy (also known as the AOJ triad, which is explained here: in some detail). In this case the defender fails the test of imminence because he is under no personal threat. The threat has passed as the thieves flee, and so he doesn’t have a strong case for defending himself here.


  1. In almost all instances and jurisdictions you cannot use deadly physical force to defend property. (Texas is the rare exception to this, but recognize that TPC 9.42 has some significant limitations) Even in cases where you COULD use deadly physical force to defend property, it’s worth considering whether it is WISE to use deadly physical force because of the risk to yourself and to any bystanders that could come because you choose to continue to engage the criminal(s). That doesn’t usually apply to occupied buildings and cars because of the inherent value of the people inside of them, and the defense of property does vary considerably from state to state as to what’s acceptable. Please consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction to be sure that you understand the laws of your area!


  1. An important part of spiritual fitness is knowing what you are willing and able to fight for. As bearers of the image of God, humans are uniquely valuable and it is always acceptable to protect human life, whether your own or someone else’s. Property is something else entirely, and while in some states it is legal in some instances to protect property with deadly force it is not acceptable ethically for self-defenders to use deadly force to protect stuff. If a robber threatens your person to take your possessions, then by all means stop them from harming you and end the threat to your life. But if they are not a threat to life or limb, don’t become a perpetrator yourself by using deadly force without proper justification.


  1. In a deadly force encounter, decisions of life and death will be made in the blink of an eye. On the range and in class we have time to consider and to think and to reset and to make multiple attempts, but when the balloon goes up in real life you’ve got fractions of seconds to decide what the best course of action is to protect yourself. The way to be better at decision making in the heat of the moment is training, specifically scenario training and force-on-force training that is designed to work on decision-making skills under stress. It’s offered all over the country, so get training! That training could have made this former military officer stop with his firearm when the threat passed.


  1. The Bystander Effect is real. There were lots of people around here, but no one stepped in. You cannot count on anyone breaking the Bystander Effect to help you, especially if the attacker is armed and any help would be at a force deficit from it. Usually the best way to break the Bystander Effect is to have a force multiplication advantage, which is a great reason to keep your force multiplier on you at all times.


  1. First aid skills are important. If you’re going to train and prepare to take a life to defend yourself, you should also have skills, training, and equipment to save life should you need to. (I carry an individual first aid kit at a minimum: ) Often that will not involve defensive encounters, and in a defensive encounter your primary responsibility is to yourself and your loved ones.


  1. Marksmanship is critical in a gunfight, because you are responsible for every round that leaves the muzzle of your firearm. You must recognize that you are accountable for any errant rounds that leave your gun and the damage they cause.


  1. The rules of firearm safety apply whether you’re training or fighting for your life. One of the most difficult to follow in a real life gunfight is Colonel Cooper’s Rule #4: be sure of your target and what lies beyond it. It is exceedingly difficult to do, but self-defenders must stay aware of what is behind their threat so that they take minimal risks to innocents when defending themselves.



Attitude. Skills. Plan.


(music in the intro and outro courtesy of Bensound at



1 reply
  1. Kevin Lara
    Kevin Lara says:

    Wow. This is so sad. This man not only was not a part of the crime, but he wasn’t even aware. He was just walking when he received a gun shot in the back. A reminder of the futility of life and our need to be “spiritually fit”. We certainly don’t know when our last day will be.

    I also found amazing how the guy on top of having killed an innocent man, not only refused to help him as he saw him laying in the ground, but later lied to the police saying that the man he killed was one of the robbers, according to the description in the original video. Almost unbelievable. Another reminder of how much evil there’s in the human heart. Not only the robbers in this case, but also the victim of the robbery, have committed a horrible crime and evil deed.

    Finally I thought it was sad how this innocent man’s life ended with just one bullet in the back. Some have survived being shot as many as 20 times, and this man’s life ended with one bullet. I wonder if first aid could have made a difference and saved this man’s life. Boy, our life is like a vapor indeed.

    Thanks for your videos John. They are extremely informative and helpful.


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