At 0430hrs this morning, my fiancé and I were awoken by a volley of gunfire about 50 feet outside our bedroom. From the window, while keeping concealed, I witnessed a volley of shots being exchanged between our suspect new neighbors and a couple of unknown individuals. The neighbors moved this fall into our area–what has been a good neighborhood for years–and have now brought the criminal element to our front doors. I have had my eye on these people as have my neighbors (two of whom are former military members as am I). Immediately after these people moved in, we all noticed an increased volume of traffic throughout the day and night as well as a strange unwillingness to even say Hello.

When we awoke to the undeniable sound of gunfire this morning, my natural reaction was to get my fiancé safely on the floor, as I grabbed a couple of guns and my phone and got dressed. I dialed 911 putting dispatch on speaker, stating, “Shots fired. Shots fired.” Speaking clearly and calmly, I repeated for them my address and my name. After checking again that my fiancé was ok and not hit, I proceeded with her to the back side of the house for better protection while on the phone with the police. The volley of fire finally stopped and a car, a dark colored Chevrolet Monte Carlo, drove off with the two individuals who had been outside shooting into the neighbor’s house.

We live in a relatively small city of 100,000 people and while the dispatcher stated that the police were in the area, it took them 14 minutes to arrive. (Note that this was due to snowy road conditions, not due to lack of concern on the part of the officers.) While we waited for the police, we saw a dark colored Nissan SUV drive past the neighbor’s house, double back, and park out front. A female exited the vehicle, went into the house for a minute or so, and quickly departed, I expect in possession of valuable evidence such as drugs or weapons. This fast, calm response indicates to me that these people are experienced criminals and have experience with this type of situation.

Once the officers arrived, I went outside to speak to them. I approached them calmly with my hands out in front of me, fingers apart. The officers were startled when they finally looked up and I was already standing near them at the edge of the yard, 50+ feet from my front door. Understand that I am not a small man and certainly not always the stealthiest—and in this instance I wasn’t trying to be. It is my educated guess that they had some tunnel vision in their effort to look for evidence and suspects. One of the officers asked if I was armed. I said, “Yes.” He simply asked me to keep my hands where he could see them. He then asked who I was. I told him, noting the name of a friend of mine who happens to be a Lieutenant on the department, and told them what company I owned. They immediately shifted their tone from being on guard with me to relaxed and even humorous.

After the initial interview with the other neighbors and me, the officers called for backup and 8 squad cars showed up. The officers knocked on the suspect neighbor’s door and entered the house at which time one officer came back over to speak with us. He stated that there were 9mm and 45cal casings found in my front yard, which matched my initial statement. He also noted that the suspect neighbor’s house was peppered with rounds and that one of the occupants of the house was shot but refused medical treatment. The crime scene investigators arrived along with senior department leadership and at that point I had returned to my house, though I was eventually asked to give an official statement, sitting in the back of a squad car for recording purposes, of what I observed from the first muzzle flashes to the arrival of the initial responding officers. This afternoon, I went out to the shooters’ location at the front edge of my yard and was able to uncover more casings and a couple of other clues, which I had the police come out and document. The officers were again very appreciative of the help and took the time to ask a few more questions about the early hours of this morning.

You never know when a gun fight is going to break out or when some other sort dangerous situation might arise. And we must be prepared, both to protect ourselves and our loved ones and to offer clear information about the situation to the responding officers whether involved directly or as a participating witness. Looking back on this morning events has reinforced in my mind a number of items for all of our action plans:

1.Have a plan for situations; they can happen at any hour, of any day. THEY WILL ARISE WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT!

2.Plan ahead and identify a strong hold(s) in your house. Know where your points of entry/exits and likely fields of fire.

3.DO NOT TURN ON THE LIGHTS IN YOUR HOUSE!!! This causes silhouetting, allowing your foe the opportunity to see you. Do not make yourself a target. If you need to know where walls are put in illuminated light switches, they will guide you.

4.Have slip-on shoes, pants, and a jacket or sweatshirt laid out and ready.

5.Keep close at hand a ballistic vest (or MOLLE gear at a minimum with your gear attached to it) a couple of magazines, a pistol with holster, and a med kit noting a rifle is preferred. Place some type of bag with your gear in it next to your bed for easy retrieval.

6.Be clear and concise when calling or speaking with law enforcement. Remain calm. Follow directions and clearly identify yourself.

7.Ensure all security systems are up and operational, locks are working properly, alarm system is functioning and cameras are in proper working order (if you have any of these items).

Tommy Teach
Founder and CEO, Bruzer Less Lethal International
Staff Instructor, Fortress Defense
Affiliate Instructor, Defense Training International