NOTE: This post has been updated.
By Tommy Y.
“I’ll only be out for a few minutes.” That’s what I said when I exited the house and jumped in the truck and realized that my firearm was still sitting on top of my office desk. Sadly, this wasn’t the first time I have said this, but this day would prove to be the last time I ever use that line as an excuse to not be armed . . .
Unlike most excuses for leaving a firearm behind, my excuse was different. It wasn’t because I felt that carrying a firearm was a burden or uncomfortable. It’s quite the opposite. My method of carry was too comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that I often don’t even feel that it’s there on my body—or not.
I had removed the firearm from my in-waistband holster while working on some designs and it was late in the day. I wanted to stretch a little and never thought to re-holster the firearm once it was removed.
Fast-forward a couple of hours later and now I’m ready to take a short break and I hadn’t eaten all day. Thinking about my stomach, I grabbed the keys and promptly exited the house to get whatever greasy fast food I was sure would quiet down the growls coming from my stomach at this point. It didn’t even cross my mind that I had forgotten to re-holster my firearm before exiting the house.
“I’ll only be out for a few minutes.”I said it again as I pulled out of the driveway. “Meh…” I thought afterwards. t’s not like I’m going to the wrong side of town or anything. Just a quick bite to eat and I’ll be back.
After a few minutes of driving, I noticed a male on the intersection. As I come to a slow stop, he approaches my passenger-side window. I ignore him thinking he’s just a panhandler asking for money, but this one felt different. Everything felt different.
As he approached my passenger-side door, he mutters some words about cigarettes, but then like a strike of lightning, he reaches for the door handle. Alarmed, I gave him a stern look and right when I was about to give a reactionary verbal lashing, I felt the back of my neck start to tingle. Something was very wrong.
At that very moment, a sixth sense kicked in and I was compelled to turn to my driver-side door. As I turned to my left, I watched as another male had successfully opened my door.The one thing I vividly still remember is the knife coming towards my face and the focused look on the attackers face. I remember deflecting the knife hand with my left hand and grabbing his hand and forcing it up to the cab of the vehicle.
In one smooth motion, my right hand sweeps up my shirt and motions towards what normally would be a GLOCK 23 at the ready at the 3 o’clock position. Instead, I was greeted by the cold hard reality of an empty holster.I’m pretty sure I blurted out an angry four-letter word at that moment. At first my mind was confused, but in an instant I replayed the exact moment I had removed my firearm earlier in the day.
At this point, the attacker knew I had just tried to do something and became even more aggressive. He was tugging at my jeans trying to reach for my wallet. Again, my sixth sense kicked off and I realized that there was the other person on the other side, but this guy was more of an immediate threat and I couldn’t lose my focus on him.
In the most convincingly defeated tone I could muster, I remember yelling “Okay! Okay! Stop, just give me a second.” This allowed me to reach back for what he thought was my wallet. It was enough of a diversion to allow me to reach for my EDC knife. It felt like an eternity deploying my knife out to defend myself. My hands must have fumbled two or three times trying to get to it.
By this time his gaze went down to my hand and I knew that if he saw what I was reaching for, I would lose this moment of opportunity. I immediately kicked him, forced his knife hand up into the top of the cab and in one fell stroke jabbed the knife into his forearm.
I couldn’t tell you how bad his injuries were. It happened so fast. I remember the attacker jumping out away from me and backed away a bit. But for whatever reason it seemed like he was about to advance toward me again for round two. At this point I was seeing red, but knew getting into a knife fight with one attacker, with another possible armed attacker in question was something I didn’t want to do.
I don’t know what compelled me or where I got the bright idea, but thinking as quickly as I could, I yelled “YOU M____ F_____ERS. I’M AN OFF DUTY POLICE OFFICER!”
This was a bold-faced lie and still not sure if it was the best thing to say or do. In hindsight, what other choice did I have? It worked, because the attacker’s focused look immediately turned to despair and he ran away in the opposite direction.
At this point I glance back behind me and I notice that the other person is also running away in the same direction as the attacker. Seems I was right and they were in the crime business together.
I immediately jump back in the vehicle and shut the door to get away to a safe and public location to call 911. The keys were gone from the ignition. I frantically begin searching the floor and the seats thinking it may have fallen out during the altercation, but then noticed that the passenger side door was slightly open.
It was at this moment where I realized that I was wet. Not wet with sweat but with blood—my blood. I was sitting in a pool of it in my seat. I reached across and shut the door and made sure all doors were locked and immediately called 911 for emergency assistance.
During my altercation with the attacker, the other person came in through the passenger side and stabbed me twice. Once in the back one inch to the right of where my neck meets my spine and once on my right between my ribs. The back wound was a clean flesh wound, but the wound through my ribs was deep enough to puncture my liver. I’m really lucky to be alive. The second attacker from behind could have slit my throat instead of choosing to stab me.
I spent a week in the hospital after the surgeons opened me up to close my punctured liver and I spent the next two weeks with a tube coming out of my gut to drain the internal fluids that were collecting inside of me.
All of the police officers who responded got a kick out of the part where I put on my biggest poker face and boldly told the attacker that I was an off-duty police officer. Initially, the investigators thought it may have been an attempted car jacking, but they later stated that the attackers were most likely addicts needing their next fix. Only addicts would be that bold to attack a vehicle at an intersection for maybe $20 that was in my wallet. To this day, the perpetrators have yet to be caught.
In hindsight, it’s really tough to say whether or not my firearm would have made a real difference. After all, I could have been stabbed early on from behind before I would have been able to deploy my firearm. With that said, I know that I would have been more effective defending myself if I had the firearm. I wouldn’t have had to rely on a calculated bluff to de-escalate the situation to stop the attackers from advancing a second time on an already wounded victim.
“I’ll only be out for a few minutes.”
Words I’ll never use again as an excuse to not carry my firearm. You never know when you’ll be the victim. It can happen at any time, any place and when you least expect it.
UPDATE – Tommy writes in to answer a lot of your questions:
1) Why were my doors unlocked?
Some models auto-lock car doors when you put it in gear. Some put it in auto-lock after you go a certain speed. Other vehicles don’t do anything. The vehicle I was driving when this incident happened automatically locks when you put it in gear. However, it does not auto lock again if you ever manually unlock the door to let someone in or accidentally hit it open.
I’m not sure how or why the door was unlocked, but when you’re used to your doors auto-locking, it’s not like you’re constantly thinking to always lock them again. I know I have accidentally unlocked my doors when attempting to push the button to lower the windows. Both buttons are close to each other. I don’t know if that’s what I did here, but it’s very likely it’s what happened and I didn’t think to “relock” the doors because I was unaware they were unlocked in the first place. Moral of the story: don’t assume anything. Don’t assume your doors are locked or unlocked. Just like you shouldn’t assume your chamber is empty or that your 1911 safety is on or off. When you get comfortable, things can go downhill fast when you assume wrong.
2) Why were my windows open?
They weren’t for the most part. The driver side was open a crack and the passenger side was closed. I was a smoker when this incident happened and I crack my windows with the A/C running full blast sometimes when I drive.
3) Why didn’t you drive off?
I was at an intersection at a red light. When the first person approached me near the passenger side, the person posed no threat at the time to warrant me running a red light and possibly causing more death and injury in a collision with one or several vehicles crossing. My passenger side window was closed and I assumed my doors were locked (see above) and he was not yet in my immediate area of threat. I’m also not going to draw my weapon every time a guy is on the curb asking for money.
When the second person approached from the driver side door and successfully opened the door, I was in a moment of shock and unprepared. Again, the assumption was that my door was locked. Second, as soon as the door opened, a knife was flying towards my face. In that moment, my left hand immediately went to defensive maneuvers to block and detain the weapon arm. This was when I reached for my non-existant firearm and when realized I didn’t have it, I turned my body towards him to use my legs to kick the guy in the chest and grab my knife.
4) What was going through your mind?
It’s easy to armchair here, but the only thing on my mind was to keep the knife pinned up top while I pull my EDC knife out to defend myself. All other things did not matter or exist to me. I could have been in space for all that mattered. After the incident, the police noted that my vehicle had moved 5 yards from the stop line before stopping again. It means the vehicle was probably slowly moving during the altercation and only came to a stop when the first person came in through the passenger side and either put it in park and shut off the engine and took the keys or he shut the engine off and took the keys before slamming it into park.
5) What could I have done differently?
Some here would say it would be to recheck that the doors were locked. But I challenge everyone here to honestly tell me that they check to see if their doors are locked at every intersection that they stop at. I guarantee that you don’t and if you have a vehicle that auto-locks, you probably have never “relocked” your doors manually while driving either. Some of the “duh!” answers regarding my unlocked doors is exactly how I would have commented if this wasn’t my story. However, that assumption and security of your doors being locked is what will get you (and in this scenario me) in to trouble.
The biggest thing I wish I had done is I wished I was a little more aware of what was going on in the “opposite” direction. I’m typically a very observant and situationally aware person. Unfortunately, I fell hard for the classic misdirection tactic that was used on me and I think I could have read the misdirection tactic sooner.