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My Mistakes in the Knife Teaching World.

.This is where I have fallen down. Where my knife course has fallen down. Before the fall, in the 1990s there was a “resurgence” if you will, a re-look, re-examination of older knife material (which essential was a lot of knife dueling). Some might call it “knife fighting,” but I don’t like that term. But you are still indeed, fighting with a knife when you are…fighting with a knife. Still, I don’t like many terms, images, messages, logos relating to the knife and knife fighting. By that time in the 90s, I was in police work for quite a while, both in the Army and in Texas, most of that time as a detective. I’d seen and experienced working on a lot of knife crime, as in aggravated assaults, rapes, attempted murders and murders. I myself have been attacked by both knife and ax.

I know the depressing, dark side, the wet side in juxtaposition to all the smiling people having fun, slap-dashing around in gyms playing tag with wooden and rubber knives. Knife training is often treated quite cavalierly. This doesn’t have to be the case as very serious cultures exist, like the culture of pistol training is quite serious and full of foreboding and legal scares. Careful, mature training cultures do exist, and this must certainly become true in knife training also.

In the early 90s, this edged weapon resurgence was sort of an international turning point in knife training. A reboot if you will? It first resurrected the old military knife courses and the semi-legendary names of yesteryear. They weren’t “kuraty” superstars. A sophisticated look at them however, revealed, they weren’t so sophisticated. So several of us, using the newer sports training methods of the time, and bolstered by years in Filipino martial arts or other historical backgrounds, stepped up and made “new” knife courses. Gone was the martial arts uniforms, belts, etc. We wore jeans with pockets and regular clothing belts. Street clothes.


Some of the 90s knife pioneers? James Keating. Tom Sotis. Kelly Worden, Bram Frank, Bob Kasper, yours truly, to name just a few, but there really were only a few of us. Paul Vunak is a late 80s pioneer in many areas. (Still, some of these guys were overdosing on knife dueling.) We wore shirts, jeans and shoes. I even taught at times in a suit and tie. Skeptical, we didn’t trust the old stuff and we didn’t trust the established martial arts either, even the Filipino applications of the knife are often tricky and  too “duely”. (Do you want to walk around wearing a vest with 12 knives? Seriously.) Be free. Think free. Be skeptical. Are you a replicator? Or an innovator?

Still, the old just helps the new. This was also part of a bigger “breakaway” from establishments that was going on in that decade. The world was seeing MMA (or at least ground wrestling) on TV like never before. And somehow a collection of old stuff, dressed in athletic pants, painted in the “Israeli mystique” – Krav Maga – was really shoved down the throats of Tae Kwon Do schools as mandatory, by clever (and insidious) shaming,  business groups, like NAPA in the 90s.

The “Mixed Revolution” was in the 1990s martial air! Jeet Kune Do was spreading into a heyday. Inosanto JKD/MMA was already doing Thai and ground, and so much more. Ever hear of “Shoot?” But, I guess the Israeli mystique was greater than the Bruce Lee mystique?

Mystique? Yes. Ever so important in advertising, sales and manipulation. That’s how we pick shoes, cars, purses and pistols (politicians, religions and…) Manipulation. More on that later…

My knife course had a few odd, infancy names in 1990 and 1991, but it was quickly called “When Necessary? Force Necessary: Knife!” But that 5-word title was a little long and clunky and it was shortened to just 3 words – “Force Necessary: Knife!” I do prefer the longer, clunky name, as it completely explains exactly what I mean to say. Only use that force necessary when absolutely necessary. But I got around the country and quickly, the whole world doing that knife material. Lots of traveling, lots of seminars.  It lead to being voted Black Belt Magazine, Weapon Instructor of the Year and also into their BB Hall of Fame. (back when readers actually mailed in votes.) I also “scored-very well” in the non-arts, growing “combatives” world.

Black Belt. Tact Knifes. Hall of Fames. TRS. Such was the jargon and the martial/political stage of the 90s. Today, it’s hard to grasp that the total, martial world communication back that existed was with a mere 6 or 8 international, martial arts magazines. That’s it! Try and list them. Yes, Black Belt, Blitz, Martial Arts Illustrated, Inside Kung Fu, Inside Karate. Think of some more. Try and list them. They were the filter for us all. Talk forums developed slowly later and now, like the magazines, are almost all extinct.

Now? Nowadays, I don’t know where the martial arts communication filter exists, specifically. The…web…the gazillions of webpages? The gazillions of podcasts? The gazillion of….Instagrams? Facebook? Yesterday’s business card is today’s webpage. And any dipshit can pay to have amazing looking webpages. The battle for exposure takes a business up and down many extremely, frustrating, costly roads.

Of course with all businesses, this 1990s knife movement kicked off a new interest and a fair number of new knife courses popped up through and to, by 2005-ish, often by less experienced, less organized people, and in my opinion doing less comprehensive programs. But this business evolution is to be expected. Invent a new “widget?” There’s a knock-off. Then knock-offs with an “S.” In the big picture of training and education however, not widgets, this can be a positive thing. Awareness. Curiosity. Growth.

So, when did I fall? It happened slowly and then one day you are down looking up. How’d I get down here? Not enough Instagram pictures? Some 25-odd years later, in about 2015, on a popular public forum someone asked me what I thought of Johnny Swift’s new, knife, quick-draw article. Of course it was named something super-spiffy like “Armageddon Instrument Production,” but it’s just knife quick draws. Brand new, Biblical-worthy advice Swift  preached, and published in the new amazing world of web-jargon magazines called something like “Organic Micro Evolution of Edged Prophetic Dynasty.” (I just made that magazine name up, but how far am I off? Have you seen these seminars names lately? Aren’t you impressed, or can you see right through the pretentiousness?) Twenty and 30 year-olds salivated! 

I read Swift’s ground-breaking, testament as featured in “Retrograde, Skill Supremacy, Fusion Elite Magazine” and I replied on the public forum –

“Oh, I have to like Swift’s article. It is virtually, word-for-word,
from my 1992, Knife Level 1 outline.”

My review/remark caused a lot of guffaws and a few smart ass remarks, among the 20 and 30 year old readers, most of whom were so submerged in modern “dynasty jargon” and up to their beards in mystique, and lost in the gazillion web world, they’d never even heard of us older guys from the 90s. I mean, who am I to comment like this on their latest fad-boy genius? I added that I was not suggesting that Johnny Swift plagiarized my outline, as it might have innocently been co-opted, or the older info has become so, ever so embedded into the “knife world” it was deemed as open knowledge. I get that. Sure. That happens. (That level 1 outline is/was free to the public and has been distributed for literally 3 decades, and my knife books have been for sale since about then too.)

I reminded the guffawers that the spread of education is a good thing and that at very least, I only partook in that process. I said that the old just helps the new, and you have to remember the old, so history doesn’t repeat itself. As a great gun instructor Dave Spaulding likes to remind us, “It’s not new. It’s just new to you.”

One guy was clever enough to say, “Well, sorry I missed you when I was 5 years old.” Ha! I told him that was a pretty damn, funny retort. It was. But missed me? Dude, I never left. But actually he never knew I was around to begin with. That is part of the mysterious “fall.” 

I added in that discussion with Mr. Wise-ass that the spread of education was a good thing, and I only partook in the process. Seriously, I frequently read as new, many old catchy terms, ideas, expressions I published and advertised decades ago.

My really big mistake in the knife world, training business is…I think, not emphasizing the knife training course only. Alone. My obsession was/is with covering the bigger picture. Hand, stick, knife, gun. That’s “where it’s at” for me (is that phrase too 90s? Yikes, maybe too beatnik 60s?). The 1990s evolved into the 2000s and my step-by-step into what I really wanted to do all along since the 90s. My goal is to create the best hand, stick, knife and gun courses. It’s a mixed weapon world. Each subject I have is a carefully constructed 4-pillar, foundation. But I think when you shoot for this holistic picture, each separate pillar seems to get a little lost, a little less appreciated, a little less noticed. It also makes me appear to be less specialized. This ain’t true. There’s a big mixed weapon matrix:

But anyway, back to the knife! Inside a comprehensive knife course is:

  • * Knife vs hand.
  • * Knife vs stick.
  • * Knife vs knife.
  • * Knife vs some gun threats.
  • * Standing, kneeling, sitting and on the ground.
  • * Saber and reverse grip experimentation.
  • * Skill developing exercises.
  • * Knife combat scenarios and situations.
  • * Legal issues and smarts.
  • * Who what, where, when, how and why questions
  • * Criminal history knife stories.
  • * War history knife stories. 

I do get a kick out of the occasional lame-brain who pipes up and says, “Knife training? Just stick the pointy end in the other guy.” Especially when these same complainers spend about ten thousand $$$ a year – plus – shooting at gun ranges. Why not just stick the pointy end of the bullet in the other guy, too, Brainiac? Is it all really that simple?

But, not focusing just on the knife is a marketing problem. I don’t advertise or highlight “just the knife” like other courses do. This is one point where I have really fallen down and why my knife course has fallen down through the years.

Another problem for me? No “flags.” I have no crutch system, no flag to fly, like Pekiti, JKD, Brazil-Mania, Krav. Silat. Arnis. Bruce Lee. UFC. It’s just little ol’ me flapping in the wind. I can’t draw in extraneous-system-people, capture super search terms, as some of those are obligated to attend, even arm-twisted by “the system” they’re in. Brand names are…brand names.

Plus, I avoid and dodge macho, death messages, grim reapers, and death images mystique. I would never advertise that I am “always bladed.” And I am not in any “mafia.” I am life-long cop. I fight the Mafia. I am not in any “cartel,” or a “cult” etc. Look, I can make the distinction between something that is a little fun and ironic and something/someone that is sick and weird. It takes a little investigation too, to not jump to conclusions, but sick and weird is sick and weird.


Various other ultra-violent, whack-job messaging should be reserved as a primer mentality for very serious, military, combat groups. THEIR psychology. Their prep. Not cops and certainly not every day, walk-around citizens. Mimicking them makes you look like a wannabe punk. Look at the lawsuits filed on cops and citizens. Go ahead, have a little death-engraved-logo on your cop gun and see what happens when you shoot someone. Have a patch or tattoo of a grim reaper with a knife, or a skull with a knife through it, and see what happens when you have to use a knife. We the police, the prosecutors search your history when you are in an assault, knifing or shooting. Mature survival is enduring the end game – as in the legal aftermath, is a big part of a well-thought-out, course. (Again, mature gun easily people understand this.)

Not like this silly fucker in New York for example – I read one New York City, very popular, international knife “cartel-liberty” group headline paragraph:

“I love it when I carve someone’s balls off and put them in his empty eye sockets.”

Shit man, you probably work in a fucking supermarket. And you think and talk like this? You need to be on watch list. These idiots give us all a bad name. But images and expressions like this, or near like this, this mystique, does attract a certain sick customer, usually young, or young in the brains anyway. (After my public complaints and comments on this, this moron took that line down.)

No Mystique? Which leads me back to the first paragraph. We know the established advertising fact the “the grass is always greener on the other….” side of the street? Other country? The sewers of Spain. The temples of Thailand. The monasteries of China? The borders of Israel…the…and so on. Me? I appear to be just a bland, white guy with some info. I don’t even have any tattoos!  Many well-known knife people are Filipino, just cause, because…they are Filipino. They may have never been to the Philippines, but they have an exotic sounding name.

And the serious military angle? Even with them, take a look at the most sophisticated, revered, respected, top-flight, Special Forces vets and most play it quiet cool like a gray man.

Lackadaisical about making rank and instructors. I don’t really run the classic franchise business as seen in self defense, BJJ and Krav, other combatives courses, and Lord knows, classic martial arts. I am often lackadaisical about promoting people and making instructors. Other systems do this like precision clockwork, where I fail to emphasize this. It does hurt the proverbial martial, business model.

In the same vein, I shun all titles like guro, grandmaster, sensei, etc. “It’s just Hock,” I say, which also does not fly well with some organizations who base themselves on this structure. Also, street clothes please. It’s almost like I am insulting them? I’m not trying to. You do whatever you need to do to survive.

After the fall. However boring, I still do see some “knife people” all around the world. There are “normal” people, martial artists, historians, survivalists and hobbyists, gun people out there, interested in generic, evolved, knife material. There are. And that is who I mostly see when the knife topic comes around. Since I disdain the crazies and the fringers, they usually avoid me too. I know they know, I don’t like them.

I always do a few hours of knife in every seminar and I do have the occasional knife weekend seminars when and where I realize I need to catch up with people’s rank requests. And, normal people can always, sort of, hide their knife interests inside a classic martial arts name. To me the knife is inside of, part and parcel of, hand, stick, knife, gun crime and war, survival education.

So, me. Boring. No mystique. Not isolating the knife enough. Not promoting people fast enough. No skulls. No flags. No carved out-eyeballs. No macho. Just generic methods. Here is where I have shot myself in the…well, stabbed myself in the foot, in the knife training business, even though just a few of us are those innovator pioneers and turned the tide in the 1990s into what it all has become today. For better or for worse. Maybe you young fellers will learn from my mistakes?

It’s always good to mention and/or thank your prior teachers once in a while. I always do. But, before you young knife guys make any sarcastic jokes about me again (and Kelly and Bram, et al?) Keep in mind…your modern instructors might have “peeked” at all my and our long, established materials, and would not confess to it. I might just be your grandfather. Our materials have become such standard doctrine that these young guys don’t even know of us. 

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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

Get what is still called the greatest knife book ever, 1000s of how-to photos in the topics above, click right here. (Now in a second updates edition.)

 

Who Do We Fight? Drunk Uncles, Criminals and Enemy Soldiers!

 

I worry about the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions.  In my courses and should be in your courses  too, part of the “Who Question  is “who do we fight?” Well, we fight three “enemies.” 

  1. Your “drunk uncle”
  2. Criminals
  3. Enemy soldiers

1: Who? Drunk Uncles:  “Drunk uncle” is a metaphor that means all your relatives, near and dear, near and far. Kin folk or those close enough to be. It is very common in life to fight people that you do not wish to really hurt. Like your drunk buddy or uncle/relative. In police work we are also expected to fight but not really hurt people unless things get really “out-of-hand” and the situation escalates. But in person-to-person, poke your buddy’s eye out, bite off his ear, hammer-fist his throat or neck, smash his face, break bones, shatter his knee, and then see what happens to you. Usually, often, jail and lawsuits. Lots of money and problems. There is a whole lot of domestic violence out there, and violence on, and from, “who you know” is a big problem. (Remember, there are many intricacies in the complex laws of family violence, lest of all assaults and self defense.) 

2: Who? Criminals: Essentially speaking, a stranger, (or for that matter even a friend, uncle or not, officially becomes a criminal when they assault you. You could just lump your uncle into this category once in a while too.  But, what crime is being committed? Who, what where, when, how and why? The level of crime, the exact situation takes the exact temperature of your hot, lukewarm or cold response. Crime by the way often starts out with a trick ambush, which is a deep dive study also into the “what, where, when and “how” questions.

3: Who? Enemy soldiers: We know what those are. We usually like to kill them from as far away as possible, but often can’t do that either. Consider the military “rules of engagement.”

Civil law, criminal law and the Geneva Convention, as well as human ethics – look at fighting these three “bad guys” categories differently. Our responses and solutions confronting  said “uncles, criminals and enemy soldiers” are very situational and may be:

  1. Surrender.
  2. Bargain (talk, show weapon, etc.).
  3. Escape (orderly retreat – you leave or he leaves).
  4. Hurt, on up to maim.
  5. Kill.
  6. Detain, arrest and-or take prisoner.

Of course, not necessarily in that order. All are worth exploring in training through the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. All have happened and will happen. I make it a point to cover all of the above in the Force Necessary courses. 

Since we are Force Necessary and not Force UNnecessary, I do not teach sports or arts. I have done sports and arts for decades. I investigate sports and arts. I only borrow and raid from sports and arts for practical applications to solve these “uncles, criminals and enemy soldier” problems. Sports and arts are great laboratories, but it takes constant vigilance to know where to draw the line between art-sports and survival.

*****

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

Get the book about all this and more, Fightin’ Words, click here

Countering the Home Invasion

     Home Invasions. It usually slightly annoys cops to hear people declare, “my house was robbed!” Houses don’t get robbed. People get robbed. Or, we hear, “I was robbed!” when their house was burglarized. Houses get burglarized, or experience theft. But it is a problem for police dispatchers answering 911 lines and hearing some yell, “I’ve been robbed!” when their house was burglarized 7 hours earlier, discovered when arriving home. Other than that, I guess it’s case of semantics and impatient policing.

      But houses can be involved with robbery crimes – consider the home Invasion. Simply put, a home invasion is when a criminal enters a home for crime while occupants are there. Actually Wikipedia has a nice and true definition – “Persons charged with “home invasion” are actually charged with robbery, and, or kidnapping, or a homicide , rape , or even assault charges. But law enforcement has been seeing the increase in “home-invasion robberies” since at least June 1995, when “home-invasion robberies” were the topic of the cover story of The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. They state the crime is considered an alternative to bank or convenience store robberies, which are getting harder to pull off cleanly due to technological advances in security. In this same article, the FBI recommends educating the public about home invasion. Before the term “home invasion” came in use, the term “hot burglary” was often used in the literature. Early references also use “burglary of occupied homes” and “burglar striking an occupied residence.”

HI

     Usually, often victims get shoved around, roughed up and hurt. Some killed. As a detective, I have investigated numerous, such, mixed-category “home invasion” crimes that included robbery, assault, rape even murder through the years. I have hunted down and caught home invaders. So, from experience, training and further research, I have some information for you. In the “who, what, where, when, how and why” of the crimes, there are some important patterns to worry over.

     Anywhere in the world, Omaha, NE or Budapest, Hungary, there are two kinds of home invasions. One is the premeditated home invasion, where the suspect absolutely knows, expects and wants you to be home. And then there are accidental home invasions when criminals break in, thinking no one is home and are as surprised as you are when face to face. Most thieves/burglars prefer an empty house. Many are unprepared for a resident to be home, or come home.  This shock on both parties makes for unpredictable results.

      While I really want to remain on the subject of occupied home invasions and not the common, empty house burglaries, some pre-hit basics must be covered that include both subjects.

      The criminal stake-out?  Was there one? Burglary victims often assume that burglars are stealthy masterminds staking out their houses from various clever vantage points for days or weeks on end. But more often than not, they skunks are not so movie-like, and the criminals are just quick creatures of opportunity. Some burglars do prowl a bit and quickly watch over neighborhoods for the easiest, superficial signs. One method is at early, common, rush hours, burglars try and catch residents leaving for work.  Some congess when caught that they follow a resident out of the neighborhood to ensure they do not return and head back for the house. (This is an issue especially for homes with garages that face front, as burglars can see how many cars are in the garage as the driver leaves.)

      Many burglars are not such early risers and will just do a quick visual inspection of your home looking for signs of interior life, and good cover to break in. They will knock on the door or ring the doorbell. No answer? They invade. Often through the covered, concealed areas of your house like the backyard, but there are plenty of bad guys that bust right in through the front door (certainly so in apartments.)  You, being home, hearing and then not responding to the doorbell, the knock or the phone, are assumptions of vacancy and parts of their invitation to bust in.

     Two types of home invaders. An official home invader either wants to creep around while you are asleep, or wants to ambush people to essentially take them hostage for other crimes. He strikes at evening, night or on weekends hoping people will be inside to capture and mess with. The creepers are a different breed of criminal. Some of these a.m. home invaders for example thrill at bring in your house and just stealing things, thrill at spying on you asleep. Their entries are quiet. And then some are rapists, and have other plans and crimes in mind. 

      Many home invasions occur when residents are present and awake! Daytime or evening hours. I would like to define here the three main ways in which criminals invade houses while you are there in the usual waking times. In old school, cop talk, this covers the big three – the surprise, the con and the blitz.

 1: Where? The front door. How? The con – a ruse at the front door.

 2: Where? Driveway/Garage: How? You are followed or waited for and rushed/attacked as you pull onto your driveway or into your garage.

 3: Where? Entry Points: All windows and doors. How? The criminal breaks into your house. The surprise entry into your house and your life is a shock and awe ambush. The blitz is being rushed and over whelmed and overcome.

The Con: The Front Door Ruse. The con is at the front door – any number of participants may get you to answer, to open the door or get themselves invited even to use the phone, bathroom, escape the weather, etc. One evening, in a gated, housing edition in Jupiter, Florida, a man answered his front door to find a young woman acting distraught.

      “I am lost! Can I use your phone?” The home owner kept the girl at the door trying to guide her out of the edition with verbal directions.

      “I can’t keep track of what you are saying! Just let me use your phone.”

      The home owner said, “don’t worry, I just called 911 and the police will be here to guide you out.”

      “What? 911?” she said, “you just called 911!”

     With that she ran from the front door and suddenly two men jumped from the bushes and ran off with her. Guess what they were up to? How did they get onto this gated community? We don’t know, but these gated communities are not impervious to all criminal entries. Most likely the woman was going to pull a gun on the occupants once inside and then let her friends inside the house. Or, once the door was wide open, they all would barge in.

    Many of us have seen or recall the comical bug exterminator TV commercial where a giant insect rings a doorbell with a silly excuse to get in the house and use the phone. Funny, but a stranger at the door should be regarded with the same concern as a giant insect.These are classic examples of front door ruses. Not unlike all the others you should not fall for. No matter the set up, always be very suspicious of ALL people who come to your door with a story. They might not even ask to come in, but linger long enough for your door to open wider, then barge in.

      Remember to have and use a peephole on your door. Some people even have security cameras combing the front area of their homes. (Even a dummy camera high up over your front door bothers these ruse criminals and they chose another house.)

      An elderly couple in my city ate a very expensive, local restaurant one night. When finished, they got into their new, expensive car and drove home. They drove into their residential area of nice homes and pulled into the driveway. The man punched the garage door button and the door slowly open. He pulled his car into his garage. And with no great haste, hit the button again to close the garage door. As he opened his car door he was rushed by a young man with a pistol who ran into the garage, before the garage door was half-closed. The door’s electric eye stopped the descent and several others entered also. This began several hours of torment and hell. They were beaten, robbed, but were left alive.

     Within a month, after a few breaks in the case, I identified the home invaders. They were career criminals from Ft. Worth, TX.  Their MO (method of operation) was indeed to follow elderly people home from expensive restaurants and rush them in their garages before the garage door closed. I arrested them, but this couple was too afraid to fully press charges in this case. They simply denied the unequivocal identification of the robbers I presented them, my other collected evidence so they could dodge any further legal proceedings. The couple feared gang retribution. Fortunately, we had other charges on these thugs and they still did hard time.

     Home invaders use this method and many other similar schemes. So, you should identify places where you visit that might be construed as a victim, pick up for potential victims. Take note to see if you are being followed, from anywhere really but certainly from these “prime hunting” grounds locations. If you are suspicious that you are being followed? Make several, sudden turns to test your guess. If you are still followed? Use your cell phone to call the police and try to set up a trap. No phone? Shame on you! But, you might drive to a police station, or drive to a populated area to call the police.

     In August, 2010 in North Texas a group of thugs were out “on the hunt,” trying to catch anyone pulling up to their house in the early am hours. It’s like fishing for them, and they netted a big one. They attacked a family returning from a vacation as they unpacked on their driveway. Do you see how this could have been a home invasion had the “fishermen” forced the family into the house. Instead, it’s just an outdoor, armed robbery. But what about such unplanned driveway attacks?

      What if you might be jumped right at your house? Front or back? What if they operated on some intelligence and identified you and yours as a potential and “just ripe” victim, coming home at a certain time? If it is driveway robbery or a home invasion, where around your driveway would attackers hide, within range of ambushing you and/or barging into your garage and house? Install lights there. Clear brush. Watch to see if someone sneaks into the garage as you pull in. Let your eyes run over your property. In some very familiar locales, you might even spot strange cars parked on your street, road or area.

      As a rule, don’t exit your car until the garage door has closed behind you. This way you can stay in your locked car if confronted. Have a gun. Have a cell phone. If caught in your garage after the door is closed?, Open the door electronically. If criminals interfere with the door opening, hit the gas pedal and crash out. A new door is cheaper than the horrors to follow if taken hostage, and cheaper than any funeral.

      Are your doors locked in the daytime even when you are home? Or early evenings? Most people say no. They ask,” why? We are home.” But when you and yours are home, your most valuable possessions are inside your house. You! Anyone in policing (and crime) will tell you that most house burglars strike in the daytime, hoping that no one is home.

      But if the plan is an evening or weekend home invasion/robbery, multiple criminals are usually involved and they might enter your house anyway they can. Windows, doors, open garage doors, any way. And you won’t have your alarm on either.

 The safety rules here are: lock your doors and that includes your garage door and the door between the garage and your house. Buy your doors solid! Lock your windows. In fact, follow the basic and common tips that deter and defeat house burglars, and you will slow down or stop the surprise entry. Common crime prevention pamphlets will wisely warn you that criminals break into the cars on your driveway to get your garage door openers. The invasion begins.

      Make a plan with your family about such a sudden entry. I will tell you one of mine since it won’t matter. If I or my wife see a sudden invasion inside the house or even at the door, we plan to yell at the top of our lungs one word. One. “GUN!” Maybe we’ll yell it a few times if we can. This way me or in your case, other members of your family deeper in the house have time to react. Get the gun. Have a plan for them to react. If you don’t have a gun or two around your house? Well, you’re an idiot or have a thinking disorder, or you are stuck in a naive, idiot’s regime. Good luck with all that.

 A quick summary

    Be aware of cars and the heads/faces of the drivers and occupants when you are leaving your garage or just leaving your house.

    Be aware of cars following you at any time.

    Be aware of cars and the heads/faces of the drivers and occupants when you are entering your garage.

    Be leery of all strangers at your front door.

    Keep your house as secure as possible at all times, whether you are home or not.

    Have a plan to alert your fellow residents if you are blitzed anywhere in your house.

    Have weapons, phones and escape options.

    Good short video by Massod Ayoob, click here

 

 

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

Coming soon, Dead Right There – the second non-fiction police book of Hocks’ adventures and misadventures

2 Police Covers Med

The Car as a Coffin

     Back in the 1970s, the 80s and even the 90s, this phrase “the car as a coffin” was a warning, a cop-training-phrase, a “word to the wise” about being stuck in the car and being killed while stuck by an outside shooter. The advice was to… 

     “Get out of the car! Because the car is a coffin.”

night car

     When things got hot and you predicted bullets could/would fly, or while bullets were indeed flying, you have to try and get out of the car. Get out of the car because the car is an enclosed coffin. So, we got out if we could, because you know, sometimes you can’t! We got out the driver’s side, or we planned on traversing across the front seat to escape, low and crawling, to get out the passenger side if need be. OR, I have had friends successfully dive under the dashboard while under fire.

But alas, that was the good ol’ days of big cars. Who can dive for cover under a dashboard in today’s cars or worse, today’s patrol cars? They have some small patrol cars today, and some big police SUVs too. But, have you seen the front seat of a police car lately? It resembles a miniature version of the bridge of the Star Trek Enterprise. Computer systems, like a Robby the Robot, if you will, sits in the middle of the front seat. You CANNOT traverse the front seat anymore! And in civilian cars, the popularity of the console traps you in the driver’s seat more than ever.  

front
     I followed this golden rule, but even when you believe in it, you can still get caught there in an instant. Like I did this one disturbing Saturday, summer night in 1980.

“Sixty-one,” the dispatcher said.
“Go ahead,” my reserve police partner Joe Reilly said.
“Domestic. Brothers fighting in back yard. The Starnes brothers. Mother called it in. 15 Jasper Street.”
“Ten-four.”
“Ask if the two brothers are wanted,” I told Reilly.
“Dispatcher, check wants and warrants on the brothers.”
“In progress. They’re clear.”
“Ten four.”

Damn. The Starnes brothers. Bout half-crazy, trouble makers. Almost twins, born so close and virtually look-alikes. In just about the same kinds of twin trouble. Drugs. Fighting. Burglaries. It wasn’t too late yet in the evening. About 8 p.m. Too early for the real trouble these neighborhoods brewed. We drove through the busy streets on the warm night. We didn’t need to look 615 Jasper up on the map. We’d been there before.

When we pulled up, Reilly and I got out and heard the loud argument in the backyard, behind the long, old white house. We walked up the driveway beside the house, passed through the metal, chain-link gate and into the yard.

The mom was there in a house dress, arms folded. A neighbor we knew by sight, a very big dude was calmly standing by and when he needed to, pushing the brothers apart. The bothers were neck vein, popping mad over something.

“Hey!” I said loudly. “What’s going on?”
The mother spoke up and relayed the problem which frankly, I don’t recall to report here. We all talked it over for a moment, and I appreciated the presence of the neighbor. But, upon our very arrival, the brothers wanted to disappear. Afraid of being arrested again? Something else? I don’t know. It seemed like our very appearance ended the fight.

Brother Buddy Starnes was shirtless and wearing very tight, light-colored jeans. This is important later.
Just about the time I was officially wrapping up the conversation, Buddy left prematurely. Looking back now, it was obvious he had something to hide or be worried about. He turned and walked away well before I finished, and I, casually, walked after him down the driveway. Reilly lagged back just a few seconds more to finish up with the mom.

I felt Buddy’s exit was a little too soon, but I really didn’t know what to do about it. He led the way down the driveway to the street, and I looked him over from behind. There weren’t any clothing prints of weapons that I could see in those tight pants.

“Buddy, next time, don’t leave until we’re through,” I said.
I wasn’t trying to be bossy, or a prick, but I wanted to say something to…to see what he would say or do.

He looked over his shoulder at me and gave me a real dirty look. Which, you know, “sticks and stones,” and a look never hurt me. But he strutted off onto the street heading in the way of a crowd of folks up the next avenue.
I walked around the front of the patrol car, opened the door and sat in behind the wheel. The very instant my butt hit the seat? I caught motion in the corner of my left eye.

Buddy was strutting back to me, his right hand borrowing into his tight right pocket.
Shit. I instinctively, instantly pulled my revolver. The window was already down, and I laid the 4 inch barrel of my magnum on the top of the door. Barrel right at him. It’s big and he saw it.

“WHAT you pulling?” I growled.
He yanked his empty hand out of his pocket and stood there. Expressionless. Looking at the hole in the barrel of my gun.
Now, I tell you I stared hard at the pocket. It was flat, flat, flat and his jeans were very tight. I made a snap decision that he could not have anything at all in that pocket, or any pocket for that matter.
“Get the fuck outta here,” I told him in a very quiet, sinister way.
Expressionless, he waited in a stare down with me and the gun, then turned and walked away in his original direction. I did not holster my Python. I just watched him walk off.
Reilly slipped into the passenger side, sat and was shocked at my position. Gun out, barrel on the door.

“Wha…?”
“I don’t know,” I told him. “He turned back on me, and it looked like he was pulling something from his pocket.”
“Okay!”
“But I can’t imagine he had anything in that pocket. Those pants are skin tight.”
I put my gun away, started the car and drove off. Not even a half a minute later…

     “Sixty-one, are you still on Jasper street?” the dispatcher asked.
“Just a block away,” Reilly answered.
“Man shot on porch. 12 Jasper. Ambulance in route.”

What? I whipped the car around and blasted over to 10 Jasper. We slid up in front, ran up the to the porch where an older woman was tending to man lying on the porch. He was down and shot in the chest. I propped him up just a bit. We told her to get us a towel, and Reilly made for the trunk for our first aid kit. We plugged the hole. Applied pressure.

The old man could talk. He said he was sitting on his porch when “that boy” without a shirt in tan pants walked by, out in the street, looked at him and then shot him.
“Was that Buddy Starnes?” I asked while the ambulance sirens closed in on us.

“It coulda been, but I don’t sees real well. Real far. At night.”
The bullet hole didn’t look very big on his chest, but a chest wound is a chest wound. The EMTs got there and took over. Reilly and I jumped back in our car and I checked in with the dispatcher. I put Buddy Starnes out on the air as the shooting suspect.

We and other units scoured the streets for Buddy. Reilly and I made every nightclub in the district. Asked everyone on the street. For hours. Nothing. And boy-howdy, I knew I screwed up. I made a snap decision to let that little piece of shit walk off. He did have a thin gun after all, must have, probably a small, semi-auto in that pocket. That bullet was meant for me. But since he couldn’t shoot me, he, frustrated, walked off a few houses away and shot that old man.  I should have stepped out, and patted him down. But, I let a visual-search-only, trick my judgement.

I met with the detective on call that night, and I told him what had happened. He also hunted Starnes with us in his own car. I can’t remember which detective it was. He asked Reilly and I to write supplements to the shooting crime report when we got back to HQ.
CID worked up a case on Starnes. The old man lived. It was a .32 caliber bullet that didn’t do much damage at all. Within a day or two, the detectives found Buddy, but they never found the gun. He confessed to shooting the old man because he said he’d always had trouble with him as he was growing up. A cranky old neighbor motive?

But deep down, I knew what happened. I first ticked Buddy off. He wanted to shoot me in the car but I got the drop on him. And since I let him walk off, he shot that old man instead.
Months and a few years later, I would stop and talk to this old man a time or two, when I saw him on the porch in that same chair.

Even years later as a detective. He frequently reminded me that he and Buddy had problems since Buddy was a kid, and that is why he was shot, but I still feel like I was a precursor to his shooting. I know I was. What…what do you say to this guy, to make any kind of amends? The old man died in the 90s. I still think about it sometimes. A missed chance. A missed chance!

“The car as a coffin.” My good, trusty friend and working Texas cop, Jeff “Rawhide” Laun, told me that even now, 40 years later, they still use that phrase in police work and training. Even though they are now more captured today on the driver’s side of their cars with the techno systems in the middle of the front seat. No crawling across the front seat to escape! No dropping out the passenger door! No diving under the dash! You are stuck. The coffin shrinks.
But, this was as close as I got to being stuck in a car and shot. My friends have been shot at while inside cars and those are other stories. But, no matter how well I understood, and how much I believed and worried about that classic training line – “the car is a coffin” – in a single instant, I still got stuck in there.

I am alive today because several times over the years I got my gun out first and fast. I am not some kind of a quick draw artist, not at all. I am…just quick-to-draw. My gun just “appeared” when I needed it. Practice, I guess? If you have to shoot through the glass of your car? Shoot. Don’t worry about the finer points of trajectory and how the bullets will go slightly up or down due to the angle of the car glass. You don’t have time to run the math. Just shoot. Make a hole and shoot through that hole!

Email Hock at HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

This story appears in Hock’s book Kill or be Killed 

 

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Should You Even DARE Use a Knife to Defend Yourself?

Should I Even Dare to Use a Knife to Defend Myself?

A motto for my Force Necessary: Knife course is “Use your knife to save your life!” It’s also for desperate times and situations. Mine is a politically correct slogan that sets the stage for the carry-and-use doctrine.

The knife can be used for less-than-lethal purposes and lethal purposes. Yes, less-than-lethal despite its reputation. The edged weapon is not well looked upon in the legal systems of the civilized world. I must warn you that if you use one to defend yourself you usually will be harshly regarded and will be working under an emotional and costly deficit to clear yourself of legal trouble.

Carrying alone can be a problem. Most pocket and belt carry knives are illegal in many countries and in some cities and states in the United States, unless you have a very common sense reason to do so, such as your job. If you run across the street to grab a cup of coffee, from your factory job, you may be grilled by authorities about your pocket knife. (This has happened.)

Knife who, what, where, when, how and why?

Who are you to carry a knife?
What do you do that requires a knife?
Where do you do this knife-as-tool work?
When do you need a knife on your job or work?
How will you use this knife on your job or work?
Why such a knife?

These are some of the legal questions authorities will consider, investigate and ask about your knife-carry in these knife-restricted areas.

There is also a citizen-based, “never-knife” and “anti-knife” knife movement, if you will, in certain self defense and combatives programs. Many of these groups are in countries where knife carry is illegal. I get the message from several Krav Maga schools also, which is a bit surprising. I hear –

  • “I’ll never have a knife!”
  • “I’ll never need a knife, I have my unarmed skills.”
  • “Even if I disarm a knife, I’ll just throw it off.”
  • “Carrying Knives are illegal where I live. I won’t have one.”
  • “I don’t need knife training. Everyone already knows instinctively how to use a knife.”
  • “People who like and use knives are crazy, like criminals.”
  • “There are no self defense knife use statistics where I live. Why bother then?”
  • “Have you seen the kinds of people that carry and train with knives? they’re a cult. A crazy, wacky cult!”
    …and so on. 

Knives are quite ubiquitous. There are in the kitchens and probably the garages of every home in the world. They are in every restaurant in the world, and every business in the world that requires a minimal amount of handy work. There was a stabbing the other day in a Walmart. A man got a for-sale knife off a shelf and used it. These facts render some of the above quotes moot.

And I might address the “There are no self defense knife use statistics where I live. Why bother then?” comment. I usually hear it from people/instructors/school owners who live in countries where knife-carry is nearly of fully illegal. There are consistent numbers of knife and gun crime but not knife self defense. Could that be that knives are just not allowed on the streets for the normal law abiding citizen? The no-knife mentality bleeds over to forgetting the knife, like Judo people forget to punch.

Still, despite the stigma, I carry on with my own knife course – Force Necessary: Knife. Here’s why and perhaps some of the talking points I use, maybe you can use for your positions. The following is how and why I justify a “nasty, violent” knife course.  

First off, I understand your anti-knife concerns. I really do. I have wrangled with these issues. I have no particular fascination with knives themselves. I feel the same way about guns and sticks. I do not collect them, in the same way I wouldn’t collect wrenches or hammers, or all tools in general. These things to me are tools. Some folks do collect knives and of course that’s fine and fine hobby. But since I feel this way, this detachment, I might offer a very practical viewpoint on the subject, along with, needless to add, my decades of investigating knife crimes might add some value too. 
   
We live in a mixed weapon world and therefore I accept the challenge of trying to examine this…hand, stick, knife, gun world. Carry and possession laws aside, it’s still a hand, stick, knife, gun world. It’s a world of war and crime and that includes weapons. We fight criminals and/or worse, we fight enemy soldiers. Sometimes we escape them. Sometimes we capture them. Sometimes we have to injure them. And, sometimes we have to kill them.       

A person (who lives anywhere) should know how to use a stick, a knife or a gun, despite the laws possessing them. I am not talking about legal or illegal possessing here, as in walking around with an illegal weapon in your pocket. I am just talking about use. Using it. Knowing. Messing with it. Familiarization. 

The big picture.
Martial instructors with statistics of things that almost never happening? A whole lot of things hardly ever happen in some areas. There are 330 million people in the United States. Millions in other countries. And the odds of being a victim of any hand, stick, knife or gun crime is quite small in comparison. Keep this in mind when we discuss one hand-fighting-only instructor in the USA who declared it was waste of time to bother learning long gun disarming. “Long gun attacks never happen,” he said. “You would be smarter to get on a treadmill than learn long gun disarming.” He said these very things the same week a guy walked into a church with an AR-15 and killed people. Annually, consistently, people use long guns like hunting rifles and shotguns in crimes. The problem exists. Since it exists, the problem requires solutions and one movement is in the available, existence of long gun disarming training.

Stats also that say that knife defense hardly ever happens too? That beatings with impact weapons hardly “never happen.” That fistfights and unarmed beatings hardly ever happen. I agree in the big picture. I think you would discover though that even simple, unarmed fights are also extremely rare when compared to population size and the billions of personal interactions people have every day.

So then, if an actual, unarmed fight, or an actual unarmed attack/crime is so very, very rare in comparison to the population number, the interactions numbers, why do we then bother to practice any self-defense at all? If hardly anything happens? Why bother with your Krav Maga?

Crime rates are small compared to the over-all population. Most of you reading this now will never be in an unarmed fight, never a knife fight, never be shot, or never be a victim of crime. Still we work on these problems because on some level we know, it has happened, will happen and could happen to you and yours. It sort of – needs to be done.

I ask this of the “never-knife,” people, the “never long-gun” person, the unarmed-only trainer. Why bother doing anything then? Does your “no-knife” logic carry over to “no-hand,” “no-stick, “no-gun?” None of it happens a lot anyway. Why bother?

A study of the FBI crime records disclosed that through the years, 40% to 90% of the people the police must fight, are armed in some fashion. That’s a lot of weapons out there in the civilian world. But, of course, in the history of crime and war, a knife (and sharp, knife-like things) has been used, dare I say, countless times in combat. Since this “no-knife-no-matter-what” essay aired on social media back in 2016, Brits, Europeans and Australians have presented examples when desperate people have used knives to save lives and have been acquitted, even within their strict laws. Even guns have been used in self defense and shooters were acquitted in “no-gun’ worlds. In the end, the “totality of circumstances” (a legal term) and common sense should usually win out. We hope! Should you ever, even dare to use a knife to save your life? It will certainly be ugly. There will be ramifications.

I do get a kick out of the knife simpletons who say, “just stick the pointy end in someone.” Well, there are mental and physical and situational and legal issues to work on and work out. I also find it interesting that many of these same folks spend thousands and thousands of dollars to own and learn how to stick the…”pointy end of a bullet,” into someone. A simpleton might say back to them, “What? Just point the barrel and pull the trigger. Stick the pointy end of a bullet into someone.”  I would never say that about shooting and I won’t say that about the knife either.

Mental. Physical, Situational. Legal. I hope I don’t have to mention a long list of examples here. Training with a knife creates a desensitization of it’s use, something most people need. They need the speed, strength and coordination to overcome an opponent and their reflexive arms. What are the positions and situations of use? And my God, the legal issues!  One could write a book about these vital things (oh…I have!)

And I would be remiss not to comment here on the subject listed above on “lost,” dropped or disarmed knives in this essay. You might not have a knife, but he does! And in your unarmed combatives class, your Krav Maga class in “no-knife” countries still practice knife disarms ad nauseam. You break the guy’s nose and execute Disarm #22. It worked! Two things happen to the knife –

  • The knife either hits the floor, or,
  • The knife is now in your untrained hand.  

What happens next? One naysayer says he will just “throw that knife away” and continue to fight on versus one, (two or more) bad men unarmed. What size room are you in, anyway? And just because the knife (or gun) is on the floor doesn’t mean the bad guy can’t lunge down in a second’s flash and get it back. The lethal threat is not over because the knife has hit the floor at your feet. It’s still within lunge and reach and the deadly intent has been established with his assault.

Knives! Look…hey…they exist. They are everywhere. To save your life and the lives of others, use them when and where you got them. Its a hand, stick, knife, gun, world. If you call yourself a self defense, combatives, survivalist, you must have a working knowledge of hand, stick, knife, gun world.

Warning though, if you use a knife, even legally, you will still be rung through the legal ringer.  First the knife carry-and-use stigma. Then your background, your comments on social media, your “unusual” (they will call it) interest in weapons. Your knife brand name and your knife social group. Your tattoos. Everything will be used against you.  And you will spend a lot of money with lawyers. I have written about these obstacles extensively elsewhere. Violence sucks and this will suck too. 

So, despite all the negativity, I still maintain the Force Necessary: Knife course as a storehouse of information and research on the subject. Somebody has to do it.  Knife versus hand. Knife versus stick. Knife versus knife. Knife versus gun threats. Standing on down to floor/ground. Legal issues. Use of Force. Rules of engagement. Psychology. History. (Certainly not just knife dueling.)

I will leave you “never-ever-knife” folks with this thought. This question. It’s 4 am and you hear two thugs breaking into your back door. Your spouse and kids are asleep. Presuming you are unfortunate enough, deprived enough, not to have a gun handy, do you reach for the biggest kitchen knife you can get your hands on? Or, will they get to your big knife first instead, as so many home invaders and rapists like to use your kitchen knives, so they aren’t caught with a knife in transit. If you don’t even think about getting a kitchen knife in that very dark moment? You are a very poorly trained, self defense, survivalist. If you do realize you need to get the biggest knife you can find? You may have just joined that crazy knife cult you so quickly dismiss!

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Hock’s email is hockHochheim@forcenecessary.com

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The Greatest Pistol Shot I’ve Ever “Seen!”

It was gruesome. Memories of pain fade, but not those of parents much. Out of respect for the surviving parents, I will pass on revealing the details of this child murder here, the death, rape and mutilation of a young girl, even though it was long ago. Suffice to say that we’ll start here, when this freshly, arrested killer was first incarcerated in our county jail, so that I might focus on only telling the tale of the greatest pistol shot I have ever “seen,” while the gunsmoke was still in the air, or more specifically, ever investigated, and one that has all the elements of a helleva, Texican lawman tale. It was the 1980s… 

badge

     The day after the arrest, the brutal killer, Reilly Rice was in the county jail and due his very first visit to the judge for his judicial warnings, what is often called a preliminary arraignment. In our old, county jail building, just up the street from our city police headquarters, one judge had offices on the first floor, making such visits a handy process, as the jails themselves were all upstairs. Getting that first-day, mandatory visit could be geographically challenging in some jurisdictions, like organizing a chain-gang, bus ride to a courthouse. Nowadays, this type of appearance is often done by close circuit TV! 

     Judges can be power mad, quirky or cantankerous. You’ve seen this on TV, the movies and in the last two decades, you’ve seen these “Judge Judy” TV shows. Some actually talk and act like that. On this fateful day in the 1980s, a traveling judge was in chambers and he was one that demanded all prisoners who enter his court must be free of shackles. I guess he hadn’t has his nose broken yet. But something dramatic was about to happen that would at least make him think about that idea?

     Whatever the process was assigning jailers to suspects for their court trip downstairs – rotation? Dice game? Short straw? Whatever, an overweight, out-of-shape jailer named Barry Bale got the chore of marching Reilly Rice downstairs to the judge’s chamber for this un-handcuffing and visit. Alone. Yes, alone! “Such be things at the ol’ jail-house.” 

     At that very time in the late afternoon, Texas Ranger Weldon Lucas walked into the Sheriffs Office on the first floor. He’d been in on this investigation and was there to collect paperwork on the case to send to his Dallas Ranger Company and then on to Austin, and to clear up some loose ends. Lucas was dressed in his usual, work clothes of a Ranger – western boots, pants and matching vest, tooled gun belt and classic, engraved, model 1911, .45 caliber handgun. (See the photo below.)The famous Ranger badge adorned his vest like it had on Rangers for hundred-plus years. Lucas was a regular sight to every police agency in the region and I can’t think of a police officer that didn’t know him, or certainly know of know of him, certainly we detectives did. I had worked with Lucas dozens of times on felonies. He had full jurisdiction throughout the State of Texas, which was handy. 

     Appointed by the Texas governor, Rangeren’ was a great job coveted by almost all, and Lucas was one of the troop that had considerable experience in investigation before pinning on that legendary badge. He’d been a state highway patrolman, as all Rangers start out, and then worked auto theft, narcotics and organized crime. The three big State branches. Many Rangers are appointed without such stout backgrounds and are a bit behind the curve in investigation skills. I recall one Ranger being “made” that had worked only as a patrolman and then for many years in a section called “Weights and Measures.” Weights and Measures involved weighing and overseeing trucks on the highway. Jobs like this offer zero qualifications for an investigative position, but sometimes politics get in the way with Ranger appointments. Very few had Weldon’s background. 

     Reilly Rice was due in court. A local Dallas, television station sent a news van up to the court to film the proceedings. The reporter and cameraman positioned themselves in the hall for the 6 and 11 o’clock news shot of Reilly Rice walking into the courtroom, as no cameras were allowed inside. A reporter would enter and take notes.

     A hurried, representative of the DAs office showed up, but not much legalese would be crunched in this early visit of the case. Bales took Reilly Rice down the elevator. He walked Rice past the camera crew and into the court. He took off the handcuffs, as required. The TV crew got their “perp walk shot,” and walked out of the building to their van. Weldon Lucas was talking with some deputies in the lobby of the S.O. just down the hall.
 
And then all Hell broke loose. Rice punched and shoved the jailer, and took off! 

     I was working in our detective bay, closing out the day, when that hell broke loose. There were some other investigators there also. I can’t remember who bellowed out the announcement across the room. 

     “Reilly Rice just escaped from the jail. Eastbound on foot.” 

     We stampeded down the stairs, hit the street and ran to the S.O. just a long block away. Oddly, there were quite a number of prisoners through the years who’d ran/escaped from the sheriff’s office; right out the back door usually during book-in, interview or some transfer process. The bad guys could see the irresistible green of civic center park out the back doors and windows, versus the battleship gray cinder blocks and bars inside. And they bolted. They were always caught. We ran, all of us passing on getting into our cars and driving there, thinking we would be searching the surrounding park and streets afoot anyway. 

     My gut instinct was to flank over into the park behind the S.O., but my eye caught a disturbance way down on the major intersection just east of the jail. Four lanes of rush hour, east/west traffic stopped cold. 

    I ran past the county building and saw jailer Barry Bale, sitting on the ground, all multiple hundreds of pounds of him, his back propped against a tree, hair messed up, shirt tail out, gasping for breath. He must have chased Rice all of about 15 feet and collapsed. Acting like he was near a heart attack, another jailer attended him and pointed us east. He actually shouted to me, 

     “They went that-a-way.” 

     That-a-way. Yup. He actually said that.

      Then Boom! A single gunshot from…thataway. We all converged. Patrol. Detectives. EMTs. all up ahead on the northwest corner, in a small dose of short bushes and foliage of the civic center parking lot, were multiple official types working on a downed man. When I closed in, I saw that the downed guy was Reilly Rice. Ranger Weldon Lucas was standing over him, with his hands on his hips. Huffing and puffing. A patrolman showed up. Our CID Captain Bill Cummings drove up and bailed out of his sedan. 

     In so many words, Weldon told us he shot Rice. Okay. You must be thinking can police shoot fleeing, unarmed suspects? First off, this was Texas many decades ago. Back then there was a running joke that if you ran 8 feet from us? It wasn’t the law. It was…a suggestion. We would start shooting at ya’. That also included driving away from us too. Rice was a child raper and killer, otherwise known as a dangerous felon we could not allow to escape. Just couldn’t. 
     The shooting at escaping felons laws in the USA has been evolving since about 1977. The general, modern letter of the law requires that to shoot someone, it must be in defense of yourself or to interrupt the imminent serious injury of others. Seeing the back of a head, ass and pumping elbows of a fleeing felon does not constitute these imminent categories. But, many state laws include shoot/don’t-shoot and the fleeing felon problem. Many states and police agencies say that permitting the felon to escape would pose a grave and continuing danger to public safety. Shooting them is an option. Not misdemeanors mind you. Felons. 

     The Texas Department of Public Safety, which owns and operates the Texas Rangers, then and now didn’t completely address the feeling felon matter in its policy guidelines because “Every situation is different,” DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange said. “It’s officer discretion,” she said. “If they perceive that there’s an imminent threat, they can take any action they feel necessary to protect themselves.” 

     If you are citizen? I wouldn’t do this, by the way. And as for police officers, different states have differing laws about this. Even police departmental policies may be more strict than state law. And local county, state, and federal prosecutors and grand juries can have say on the subject. If driven by politics they may weave some charges in and around the laws. Then there are the civil law suits! Shooting your gun can always be very messy.
 
     Speaking of messy, I examined Reilly Rice. Prone, he was panting from his own mad dash, but otherwise he seemed just fine. Not too messy. An EMT was patching up the side of his head. A head shot? 

     “Where’s he shot?” I asked the EMT, kneeling beside him.

     “Earlobe.” 

     “Ear…lobe?” 

     “Earlobe,” he repeated. 

     I looked at Weldon and Weldon shrugged. 

     The TV news crew, there at the S.O. for the child-killer arraignment, was setting up for an impromptu street shoot. A patrol sergeant was organizing traffic control to allow the far lines to pass. The EMTS were standing Reilly Rice up and preparing to transport him…back to the jail, not the hospital. After all he was only shot in the earlobe. More county officials jogged up. 

     “Hock, you got this case,” Captain Cummings told me. Though this involved the Sheriff’s Office and the state police via the Texas Rangers, the shooting did occur within the city limits and it was also our city’s problem. I knew that people from the Rangers and Austin would eventually be involved in this, but there was work to do right then and there. First, documenting the crime scene, which ran from the S.O. courtroom to the intersection. 

     Weldon and I walked off a bit and he told him what had happened. I paraphrase here a bit because some 40-plus years have passed since that afternoon. He basically said,

     “I heard the shouting that Reilly Rice had escaped out the front door.” It must have been the jailer calling out. Of course, I knew Weldon had worked on Rice case and was well aware who and what Rice had done. 

     “He ran into the middle of traffic and turned east. I took off after him and got in the middle of moving traffic, chasing him. He had a big lead. It was getting bigger. I felt like he could get away. I couldn’t shoot at him because it was rush hour. Cars and people everywhere. But, Rice started angling north and in front of him was that brick building.” 

     Weldon pointed to the two-story brick building behind us and to our east. It looked pretty big as close up as we were. 

     “I could see he was going to pass in front of that building and it was my only safe shot. I drew my pistol and fired one shot when he crossed in front of the building. Rice went down.” 

     “How far away were you?” I asked, thinking about the ejected, spent shell from Weldon’s .45 handgun. 

     “Up there,” he pointed up the avenue. We both grimaced at the sight of the cars being filtered into the right lane, albeit slowly, and allowed to pass the intersection by our erstwhile patrol officers. Oh well, life – and cars – move on. I least they were moving slow. A crushed shell would be better than a no shell. 

    My unmarked detective car was back at the station. I approached an patrol officer and asked for one of their distance measuring wheels and some chalk. This is like a walking stick, with a wheel at the bottom and distance counter. Back then, the numbers rolled like a slot machine. Some today are of course – digital. The officer pulled it from his trunk. Weldon and I started from where Reilly Rice took his dive and walked west on the avenue, marking off the feet. 

     I hit about 30 feet and I asked Weldon, 

     “Anywhere around here? “ 

     “Nope.” My eyebrows raised. 

     We keep moving in between the cars and impatient drivers. Our eyes were scanning the roadway for that single spent shell. We hit about 60 feet! 

    “Anywhere here? 

     “Nope.” 

     Nope? How far was this shot? We continued. 

     “Right about here, I think,” Finally, Weldon stopped me. He looked around. 

    I looked at the scrolling meter. It read “97 feet.” Good God, could that be right? 

     And sure enough, to our right, untouched, unbent and pristine, lay the spent shell in the middle of the street.
 
    “97, 98 feet, Weldon. Thereabouts” I told him. “Maybe 100.”

     I took out the chalk from my pocket, circled the shell on the asphalt and put the shell in my pocket. I don’t want any of these cars rolling over it. I looked back at the intersection. That two-story brick building that Rice passed in front of? It was now about the size of postage stamp from here. 

     I looked over at Weldon and he was staring back at the intersection. “Yup. This is about right,” he said, nodding his head. 

     I walked up beside him. “Shit, Weldon, this is like a circus shot, like a wild-west show, shot.”  

    “I reckon,” he said. 

    “Was it a moving shot? How’d you do it?” I asked him. 

    “I was running. I saw my chance. I pulled my gun. Two-handed grip. I think I stopped just for a second. I think. Kinda’. I shot. Cars out here were whizzing by me.” 

     “Well, go on back and I’ll start taking some other measurements.” 

     I recorded the distances, “triangulated” them if you will, from the S.O. front doors, the shell scene and other related landmarks. Nowadays I guess they use GPS and satellite photos on big cases? Russell Lewis took land-level photos with his 35 mm camera from each important spot. 

     Weldon went to our P.D. and started his own statement on one of our new, electric typewriters. There was much for me to tighten up and I wanted as complete a report as complete as possible before the state bigwig, shooting team started showing up. Russell and I worked the scene. The only loose end was the bullet and the brick wall. It might take a major deal to find and recover that slug, as we couldn’t see it with a quick walk-by. 

     Two high-ranking Rangers were there at my desk the very next morning and I had a good, solid report for them to kick off with. As we went over the details, I got a call from the Sheriff’s Office CID, Captain Ron “Tracker” Douglas. He told me the latest news.
 
     “Hock, Reilly Rice hung himself last night.” 

     “Hung himself! How? Where?” 

     “He was first booked in wearing his own socks. We let them keep their socks. You know those long, white tube socks? He got one end around his neck, tied of the other end on bunk bed and hung himself.” 

     “Dead?” I asked.

    “Deader’ than hell. Dead right there in the cell,” Tracker said.

     “Damn.” 

     Shocking for sure, but I really didn’t care. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he wasn’t officially convicted on the case, but the case was airtight with a confession that lead to other evidence. I mean, the son of a bitch was a child rapist and killer. And “death by sock” was too damn good for him in my book. Too damn good. 

     “You gonna’ call Weldon?” I asked Tracker. 

     “Already have,”

      And we hung up. 

     “Well, gentlemen,” I told the Rangers at my desk, “looks like our ear-pierced, shooting ‘victim’ hung himself in the jail last night.” They exchanged glances. They collected my reports and their very next visit was to see Ron Douglas at the S.O. 

Texas_Ranger_Weldon_Lucas_Web

 

Weldon Lucas later became the Sheriff of Denton County and quite a controversial figure. 

 

     I next made it a point to try and find the bullet itself. Honestly, I would have loved to dig the bullet out of that brick wall and tie Weldon’s perfect shot package into a bow. I made two trips out there with two heights of ladders and a metal detector trying to find the slug. It was tedious work but I just couldn’t find it and would need a third trip with a damn fire truck or utility cherry-picker to do it. But, how high could the slug be? I think not that high?

 

 

Me. Then.

 

 

     I could arrange for a construction “basket-lift” but it would be a pain. Around the time I started making calls for one, but nobody cared anymore. There was no further case to pursue as the county and the state declared it a closed investigation and justified shooting. The local D.A., the state, no one found any fault with the actions of Ranger Weldon Lucas taking that single shot and winging, or “lobing” the dangerous, fleeing Reilly Rice. That bullet remained in the wall until the building was torn down years later? Who knows? Did it miss the wall? No matter where it went? It went nowhere anyway. 

     When I think about it, it was the greatest shot I’ve ever seen, given the circumstances. I’m sure there are many record-breaking, amazing, military sniping shots on the books, quick-kills and all, but think about it. Think about this one and why it is so unique. 

  • The shooter was a Texas Ranger (already cool).
  • The shot was taken in the middle of moving, rush hour traffic.
  • It was about a 100  foot, high-stress shot with a pistol.
  • Weldon still had the foresight to wait until Rice had a safe background. (Which was about the size of a playing card from the trigger pull site.) 
  • Rice was a confessed, child-raping, child-killing, dangerous, escaping felon/murderer.
  • Rice was a moving target.
  • Rice was shot only in the earlobe and it knocked him down.
  • Rice didn’t even require a hospital visit. The escaping Rice was returned to jail with an ear bandage. How and what could he sue Weldon and the State about? What Texas jury would award escapee Rice for damages, for an ear piercing?
  • The state police had no defined policy for shooting dangerous escapees.
  • The passing bullet did no further damage. Any possible, crazy, residual legal problems were over when Rice hung himself in the jail. 

     We know it would be impossible for Weldon to actually aim at an earlobe in a split second like that at 100 feet. Impossible. Sure, but all the events played out so very well and with minimal, post-shoot problems, it makes for the best shot I have ever “seen.” 

     And I must add – for a while there was a running joke in the county. We wished that all prisoners would be issued extra long, tube socks upon their jail book-in. Who knows what they would do with them? 
 

For more law on shooting fleeing suspects? Tennessee versus Garner. Click here

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Hock’s email: HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

Kill or be Killed! Almost 500 pages of action, mystery, true crime in Texas, the Army and Korea, photos. Etc. Get more police stories with this Ebook omnibus, hardcover or paperback. Click here for info – Kill or be Killed

 

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The Drop Dead Gun

 

“If I die in combat zone. Box me up and ship me home.”

You’ve all heard that ditty? Or, maybe you haven’t? It comes for most who have had it as a cadence –  a song – we all sang while marching and running in the military. It has been bastardized, or satired and altered for various messaging. One paraphrased version we don’t see much anymore, but old-timers will remember, was popularized on some t-shirts and posters years back. It was about you dying in a combat zone and having your gear split up by survivors, the words accompanied by the artwork of a rip-shirt, commando. This splitting-up is a very good idea for several reasons, but I don’t think the commandment reaches deep enough in citizen and police training methodology.

“If I die in a combat zone? Get my ammo, guns and gear and…continue to kill the enemy.”

It is common advice in shoot-outs that drawing and using a second gun is faster than reloading your first one. This of course depends on where you are carrying that second gun, but the advice is classic and comes from veterans. Did you arrive at this scene with a second gun? Can you find a second gun at the scene? More ammo? Was there a “second” gun, loose and back on the ground that you just ran right by?

There are numerous, vitally important, physical, gun-survival things you cannot and will not learn or get to do, should you decide to forever shoot on a paper target range and consider that practice to be the end-all to gun-fighting. 

This year, 2022 marks the 26th year that I have routinely, almost weekly, (barring Covid madness) created and supervised simulated ammo shooting scenarios of some sort. Some are short and involve two people. Some are much longer and involve numerous people, all are in numerous situations and locations. Urban. Suburban. Rural. Inside and outside. Daytime. Nighttime. People get shot by whatever simulated ammo we get to use for the training session. This reality can be very demoralizing. But, it happens.

In the briefing, I ask the participants, once “shot,” to evaluate their wounds when hit. If shot in their shooting limb, then they switch hands and carry on a bit. If shot in the leg, they limp on for a bit. If they take one or two serious shots, like shot in the head, I ask them to drop right where they are and essentially…“they be dead.” Playing this dead part, however demoralizing, is important, as you will soon read. Loose, or with lanyards and slings, you and your gun are laying there for all to seize.

Remember this is a very situational thing. How many guns and how much ammo did you bring? How long will this last? What to do about a “drop dead gun,” or the dropped gun – one dropped by a seriously wounded or dead person. Comrade or enemy? You can lecture on this, show charts, and talk it up. On the live-fire range, you can put various kinds of domestic or foreign guns in various conditions on a bench and suddenly make people pick them up, make-ready, load them, etc. and shoot them (which has been done forever by a few clever instructors by the way, but not enough, but done). The true savvy and timing of doing this pick up inside a hot, under-fire, hunter-hunted situation is hardly if ever practiced on the live-fire range. Too dangerous? A sims only endeavor? 

Loser-Taker Disarming. Technically, disarming should end with concerns of “weapon recovery.” Weapon recovery is often ignored in training. Recovering disarmed or dropped weapons is a missing link in most hand, stick, knife and gun martial, art or otherwise, systems. On the subject of weapon disarming training, two folks play parts. One the gun-loser, one the gun-taker. Most ignore the fact that either one could be the good guy or the bad guy, and typically the good guy gets to disarm-take from the bad guy in most typical training. This one-sided, prioritizing hinders good-guy, weapon recovery skills, but…look around you, this is the usual format, isn’t it?.

What if you are the good guy loser? When your pistol has been disarmed from you, holstered or out, you MUST recover it, hopefully while the taker is fumbling around with it, to get it aimed back at you. In practice, gun-takers often just take the gun, flip it around, fiddle with it into position, etc. Still the good-guy-loser must get his weapon back from bad-guy-taker, and instantly. Rush him! Now! (It is also a great training idea to have the bad-guy-loser instantly rush the good-guy-taker for the good-guy-taker to realize he has to instantly grapple with this reality heat. Are you following me with the whose-who?)

(Some instructors demand that the taker should perform impossible checks, fixes and repairs in those few split-seconds right upon acquisition, not expecting a vicious counter attack, weapon recovery from the loser. And in the real world, was the taken gun a replica? Out of battery? Empty? These are issues for another distinct, subject-centric article just about these very things.) 

But weapon recovery is a bigger issue that just good-guy, bad-guy, taker-loser disarming. There’s the rarely mentioned recovery of your downed comrade’s or enemy’s weapon, what this essay is actually about.

Blackboard-weapon recovery 

Aside from disarming, guns are dropped. I run only situational, simulated ammo gun courses, never teaching marksmanship.  I once saw a range master, and trophy winner cop, standing before an armed training partner in a scenario. Both with gas guns. The draw! And the police instructor vet lost his pistol in the air, mid-draw. He had never drawn right in front of an armed man with a pain-delivering gun. Gas gun hit the floor. Just the first time. Next time, he adjusted.

We also see photos and hear about such fumbles in both normal and stressful times. We see them dropped in simulated ammo scenario training. We even see them dropped at live fire ranges. Long guns and pistols are dropped with some frequency in non-combat life, of which we have no stats on, but they get dropped from time to time. I can’t recall dropping mine in some 50 years, but I’ve seen my friends and co-workers drop theirs a time or two. And we certainly see them dropped on youtube.  One example, we were doing a street shooting situation in Las Vegas. A very athletic, concealed carry guy ran from car to car and dropped his pistol. The metal gun hit the street in front of him and to make matters even worse, when it landed, he KICKED it! Kicked it right under a parked car…needless to say. He was killed.

Dropped When Shot. I can say with some experience that four common things happen when someone holding a firearm is shot. The shot person:

  • Drops the gun, or…
  • Convulsively fires the weapon, no aiming, or…
  • Aims and shoots back, or…
  • Gun does nothing. The gun remains unfired in their hands.

What about the dropped weapon of a shot, severely wounded or dead compatriot?  Or enemy? A “drop dead gun,” just laying there. 

Hock-gun-cars

As the organizer, over-seer of these scenarios, as the “ref” if you will, I see so many things in all of these shoot-outs. I see things people really do when in various predicaments. These occurrences, these experiences are quite remarkable and extremely educational. And one of the many things I consistently see is teammates, running past and around their deeply wounded, still or dead, yet still armed partners. Whatever kinds of weapons we are using, Airsoft, gas, markers, Simuntions, whatever –  the training weapons we can get wherever I am – these guns run out of ammo, gas, power or break down at the damndest instances.

To aid in the failures, I so want to advise, “pick up THAT gun!” as they run by the fallen. Sometimes they have the time to do so. But, I do not want to bark orders or suggestions to interfere in the middle of the freestyle, firefight exercise. I’ve see many folks run right by other available guns and ammo. As an “invisible” ref, I wait until the after-action review to bring the subject up and next time? They still often forget to do it.

Once in a while I see a practitioner who instantly knows to snatch up his dead buddy’s gun. Either, it is something trained and remembered, or they are just that naturally gun-and-ammo-hungry to simply know this and do this instinctively. They swoop down and snatch up the weapon as they go by. This is an event that never happens in live fire range training, but rather could happen in real life, and should be bolstered in simulated ammo, scenario training whenever possible. I say oddly but, many video game players of complicated war games, obsess about collecting weapons and ammo as a mainstay, and are prone to thinking about picking up “leftover” weapons. I say oddly because they have readily absorbed a concept from a totally, abstract reality. 

I might remind quickly here, that weapons are sometimes attached to people by lanyards and slings, something that can be very life-saving for the original holder, but also may flummox your partner’s attempt to get your weapons once you are down and out. Know your partner’s gear. Look them all over. Know your team or squad mates stuff. Which leads us to different issued gear topics.Hock-gun-cars-4

Different gear? Different guns? Different ammo? In many organizations such as with the military or police, certain weapons are mandated for all in policy for good reason. If we all have the same guns, we all have the same ammo, magazines and we can pick up, exchange, provide, etc., weapons. It can make for good sense. I am not advocating for the “one-gun, one-ammo” policy, I am just reporting on it here. There is something to be said too for personalized guns and gear, too. 

When military people move into policing jobs, they often and should carry-on with them these overall concepts. Well, I mean, if you were an Army “clerk,” you might not have take this to heart, but people trained for dangerous jobs and have experienced danger are better carriers of this idea.

So often, citizens minus these background, may not consider this at all, or not have the deep heartfelt, burn, understanding of the concepts of gear and the weapon recovery. Shooting instructors of all types may never even know to suggest this topic. You must realize that you might be missing huge chunks of important tactics, topics, subjects and situations. You might instead begin to dwell deeper and deeper into repetitive, endless  “gun minutiae” within your teaching. Why are they stuck in this redundancy when there is so much more diverse combative situations with sims ammo to dissect and experiment with?

Such experiments are psychologically and neurologically proven better learning experiences. Many experts call it “deep learning” in “wicked” environments. In other words, simply put – get off the range and do these interactive, situational shoot-outs with simulated ammo.

Blackboard-weapon series

Active Shooters Talk Yet Again. Martial arts instructors, ones who appear to have zero gun, police and military experience or at best very limited exposures, have organized some active shooter response classes. There should be something of a newer concern and movement in this “pick up” weapon subject, as more people should contemplate picking up the guns of shot police, downed security, etc. This pick-up-off-the-ground could be practiced with live fire too, with little imagination.

Remember that when you snatch up another’s gun? You might well not know how many rounds are left in it! Oh, and in certain crime and war circumstances, when citizens pick up the dead guy’s gun and the authorities arrive? Do I need to remind you? You could look like the bad guy at first. You could be shot.  Phone in, act and surrender accordingly – well, the same rules as if you were armed in the first place should the authorities arrive.

Souvenirs Anyone? This discussion cannot be complete with the pick-up-weapon-souvenir concept. Usually after the battle? My father landed on the beach in WW II and made it all the way to Berlin in Patten’s army. He collected German Lugers and had a box of them mailed home. They never made it through the US Post Office. I recall in Vietnam era, folks trying to get AK-47s. Often though, in many wars, watch out!  Such things are BOOBY TRAPPED! 

Evidence! This a crime scene? Is the bad guy dead-dead. Control the scene for authorities or supervisors or crime scene people. Sometimes weapons are stolen by onlookers. Consider this and other problems before automatically, cavalierly picking up enemy guns (knives, etc.) Sometimes EMTs can really disorganize your organized crime scene, too.

In Some Kind of Summary. It has been my experience that if frequently suggested in a briefing and-or corrected in after-action reviews, many people may think of this when the action starts and the possibility arises. The more they do it in training? The better. Again the pick-up is very situational.

That gun may be dropped, but it ain’t dead. 

“If I die in a combat zone? Get my ammo, guns and gear and…continue to kill the enemy.”

More on this from Sheriff Jim Wilson, click here

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Hock’s email is Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com

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