A shopping trip to the mall is just another shopping trip....until it's not. Everywhere we go, we carry with us the danger of being attacked. It can be hard to imagine, but yes, one moment you are happy, enjoying life and the next you are being attacked by someone or something. It can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone.
Such was the case involving four young victims who were gunned down in an ambush-style attack after returning from a shopping tip.
The investigation is on-going and the details sparse, but here's what we know according to the reports:
It all began as four young men were walking back to their neighborhood in Philadelphia, after returning from a shopping trip from a nearby mall. Surveillance video showed at least two suspects getting out of a parked minivan with guns drawn. The attackers advanced quickly and aggressively - opening upon the the victims.
According to reports, as many as 50 shots were fired at the scene. The attackers ran back to their vehicle and ran over some of the victims as they fled made their getaway. Investigators say that two victims, aged 18 and 19-years-old, died at the scene.
The attack has all the hallmarks of an ambush: concealment, surprise, lack of provocation, and violence of action. I've talked about this extensively at our training events and on the Pearl Snap Tactical Podcast.
The motive for the attack is unknown at this time, but drugs are suspected. Regardless of the motive, there are some lessons we can all take away.
1. It happens fast. Ambushes are quick, brutal, and lethal. Even if you're paying attention to your surroundings, they can be difficult to detect before it's too late. That's why they're so effective. With any ambush, the attacker chooses the location and the timing of the attack. This suddenness of the collapses your reactionary gap, putting you at a severe disadvantage because you're behind time. Let me explain what I mean by that.
There are three "timings" to any attack:
- Behind time,
- Equal time, and
- Ahead of time
In any engagement, your goal is to at least equal, then surpass the timing of your opponent, so that you are ahead of time. Timing is not just about speed (although, it can be a factor,). It's about tempo. By manipulating the timing of the attack, you can reset and control the tempo of the engagement, thus dominating the combat.
So, how do you do that? Mastering the principle of timing comes in two parts. You have to understand it intellectually, but experience it kinesthetically. And while I can't teach you the kinesthetic part through an email or blog post, we do cover this in our High Threat Pistol Tactics Course, Military CQC courses, as and other classes. However, I do go more in-depth about it in our podcast episode entitled, How Your Martial Arts Instructor Can Get You Killed. Click here if you want to listen to it and familiarize yourself with the principles on an intellectual level.
2. Collateral casualties. Just because you're not the intended victim of the attack doesn't mean you won't become a victim. According to the reports, there were a total of 50 rounds fired at the scene in the middle of a dense urban neighborhood. Some of those rounds hit the intended victims, but most of them did not. So, where do you think those rounds went? Amazingly, there are no reports that any innocent by-standers were hit. And while that's nothing short of miraculous, I can tell you first-hand that's not always the case. I remember the last shooting I worked involved a police shoot-out with a barricaded suspect. The suspect fired several shots at the police. One of the rounds struck an officer, but a few of those rounds struck a nearby apartment with the occupants were inside.
3. Improvised weapons. Sometimes, other weapons get introduced into a gunfight. In this instance, the van the shooters were driving was used to run over some of the victims as the attackers made their getaway. Once hostilities commence, everything is in play - even vehicles. That means, we need to develop what I call having an "eye for the terrain." That means scanning the environment ahead of time to notice avenues of approach, key terrain, cover and concealment, and other factors that can be used to our advantage.
Cases like these should encourage us to look at our personal training regiments. Today, most of the training out there is geared to prepare you for a fast draw at close range - like you're in in shootout at the O.K. Coral. You know what I men - squared up to the target at six paces, etc. I get it, most of our training time we get is spent on a flat range where the options are limited. But there are opportunities out there that will teach you how to react to contact - dynamically. Avail yourself of those opportunities.
I hope this gives you a couple of things to think about. Sometimes, just expanding your thoughts on a topic are a worthwhile exercise in and of itself.
So, let me know what you think. Drop a comment below and let me know what you would add to the list. Is there anything you're doing now in your training to hone your skills. I'd love to hear about it.
Until then, stay sharp...