How I Survived Two Armed Robberies (And How You Can Too)

We tend to take for granted that the terrible misfortunes we see on the nightly news befalling people every day will never ever happen to us.   Perhaps that is so for the majority of folks.   But it is not certain by any means.

By the time I was thirty I had already experienced more than my share of personal misfortune.

When I was sixteen I was in a terrible car accident, the result of an inattentive driver running a red light one particularly foggy morning.   The car I was a passenger in got t-boned (on my side).   The last thing I remember before the impact was looking to my right as we entered the intersection and seeing a pair of headlights bearing down on us through the fog like a laser beam.   The resulting crash put me in the hospital for more than two weeks and required two surgeries and six months of rehabilitation.

But that was a relative cakewalk compared to the terror I experienced the following year.

The First Armed Robbery

I used to work at a local supermarket and, although I probably worked a thousand shifts as a box boy and clerk, I’ll never ever forget one shift in particular.

It was a weekend shift and the place was hopping.   The front lobby was a mass of humanity with all nine checkout counters open and at least two or three people waiting in line for each register.

Adding to the controlled chaos was the fact that I was one of only two box boys on duty that day, as somebody had called in sick, and so I was frantic trying to keep all the counters from backing up with crushed groceries.

A few minutes before noon my attention was directed to the screeching of tires as a car violently backed up in front of the large double glass entrance doors to the supermarket.

At first I didn’t really think too much about it, figuring it was simply some ticked-off driver that couldn’t find a parking space in the busy parking lot and decided to park in the no-parking zone.

I only wish that would have been true.

The next thing I knew three guys wearing pantyhose over their faces stormed into the lobby screaming at the top of their lungs.

At first I couldn’t hear what they were saying because the place was buzzing with so much activity and people.   But as they continued to scream, more and more people stopped their own discussions and the din within the store slowly gave way to a point where I could finally hear what they were screaming.

“Nobody move, Motherf*****s!   Hands in the air!”

That’s when I also noticed the sawed-off shot guns they were holding.

One of the robbers went to the “front” of the registers where the people were queued up and turned his gun on them, shouting obscenities and telling them to keep their hands in the air.   It was apparent his only job was to control those folks and keep them from interfering with the robbery.

Another robber went directly to my friend Louie, who was the checkout clerk on the express lane at counter nine and started screaming at him to open the register. Louie was a very kind older man of about 55 or so who had come to American from Vietnam.   Louie kept his cool, but had trouble opening the register.

At this point, I was still in a state of disbelief at what was happening.   Part of the reason was I was at the opposite end from where these guys entered the store, bagging groceries for a customer at register one.

In the back of my mind, I still hadn’t truly processed the danger that we were all in.   The whole thing was so surreal.   Despite the masks and guns, and uncivilized actions of the three animals that just entered my store, the gravity of the situation had not yet fully registered with me.

While all this was going on, the third robber started walking along the “back” of the check stand counters yelling still more obscenities and telling the other clerks to get their registers open too.   That’s when it hit me.   Uh oh, this guy was making a bee-line right for me!

So here comes this guy with the scary pantyhose mask and a sawed-off shot gun in his hand yelling at me.

“Get on the floor, Motherf*****!”

He wanted me to move because I was blocking his access to check stand number one.   Looking back, I think the original intent was for him to start at one end of the check stands while his buddy worked from the other and they would meet in the middle.

I heard the robber, but my legs wouldn’t move.   In fact, I was essentially paralyzed with fear.

By the time he got to register three he screamed it one more time.   “I said get on the floor, Motherf******!”

Still, I couldn’t move.

A second later he reached me and threw me to the ground, face down.   He then took his gun and placed it to the back of my head and told me not to move or he would blow my head off.   A woman screamed and I thought my life was over.

This guy was clearly pissed as my unintentional lack of cooperation had messed up their plans a bit.     Because of me, it was going to take them twice as long to get all the money.

It is hard to describe the feelings that swim through your brain when somebody has a gun pointed at you.   Aside from fear, the most powerful feeling I experienced is total helplessness.   You are literally at the mercy of somebody who could care less if you live or die and, as a result, your life literally hangs in the balance.

The very first thought that crossed my mind when I was on the ground, was what is it going to feel like when he pulled the trigger?   I remember thinking about my mom and dad and sister, and I prayed to God too.

It seemed like an eternity, but it couldn’t have been more than a minute or two before the second robber finished taking the money from all nine registers.   That’s when they all bolted out the door and took off out of the parking lot.

I still remember my unsympathetic manager yelling at me to “Go get the license number of the car!” as they sped away.

The Second Armed Robbery

Ten years after the first robbery, I was eating at a pizza joint with a couple friends very late one evening when three guys stormed into the restaurant with guns drawn.

What is kind of funny is I told my two friends as it became apparent what was happening, “Here we go again.”     This time I pledged I would keep my wits about me no matter what.

One of the robbers screamed at the manager to take them to the safe.

I was hoping all three were going to go to where the safe was located, but no such luck.   Only two robbers went to the back room.

The other robber came into the dining room pointing his gun at us and ordered everyone to put our heads face down on our tables.   At the time there were maybe eight or ten people total eating in the dining room, that’s it.

Again, the complete helplessness of being held against your will at gunpoint is indescribable if you haven’t experienced it.   In this case though I was actually quite worried because these guys didn’t wear masks and I feared they might decide to kill us all rather than risk being identified.

Surprisingly, the guy holding us in the dining room didn’t ask for our wallets or money.   I guess they were focused on getting the money from the safe.

Although my head was buried on the table, I could hear everything that was going on in the back room and it wasn’t good.   The manager (or maybe he was the owner) was trying to be a hero, saying he didn’t have the combination – and the robbers weren’t buying it.   In fact, it sounded like they were using physical violence on him to get him to open the safe up.   I’m not sure if that is true or not, they may have just been kicking around furniture, but it was extremely scary whatever was going on in there.

Soon after, a gun shot rang out and that’s when I thought this was really going to be the end of all of us.

Surprisingly, nobody in the dining room made a peep.   I really expected one of the women to scream, but they all kept their composure.

After the shot, I heard the manager say something like “Okay, okay, I’ll open it.”   Maybe thirty seconds later I heard sounds from the back room that sounded similar to loose change being spilled, and soon after the robbers were gone.

I survived another robbery.

It was only later that I found out the shot was fired into the ceiling to scare the manager.

Tips for Surviving an Armed Robbery

On his website, ex-thief George Feder offers the following tips for safely surviving a business robbery:

  • Cooperate with the robber for your safety and the safety of others. Comply with the robbers demands.
  • Remain calm and think clearly.
  • If you have a silent alarm and can reach it without being noticed, use it.   Otherwise wait until the robber leaves.
  • Be careful, most robbers are not professionals and are as nervous as you are.
  • Don’t talk except to answer the robber’s questions.
  • Don’t stare directly at the robber.
  • Prevent surprises; keep your hands in sight at all times.
  • Don’t make any sudden moves.
  • Don’t chase or follow the robber out of your business. Leave the job of catching the robber to the police.

With three exceptions, the actions of all of the armed robbery victims from both of my experiences helped ensure nobody got hurt.

In the first robbery, my store manager asked me to violate the last recommendation by trying to get the getaway car’s license plate number.   And I inadvertently violated the first rule when I failed to get down on the ground after being told to do so.   In the second robbery, the manager inexplicably decided to be uncooperative at first before finally coming to his senses.

Any one of those three mistakes could have resulted in tragedy.   Thankfully, they didn’t.

The good news is that, in both cases, nobody ever panicked.   Nobody spoke to the robbers unless they were spoken too.   And as far as I could tell, nobody tried to stare anybody down or made any sudden moves.

My Advice to You

As a double victim of armed robbery the best advice I can give you is to stay calm, don’t be hero, and try to be as compliant as you possibly can.

Keep in mind the odds are good you’ll come out of an armed robbery just fine if you can manage to keep your wits.

Remember, the money and personal belongings can be replaced.   You can’t.

53 comments to How I Survived Two Armed Robberies (And How You Can Too)

  • Those are some absolutely unbelievable stories! Once is crazy, but twice?? Ridiculous. Do you know what ended up happening to those guys?
    .-= Daniel´s last blog ..Mailbag: What To Teach High School Seniors? =-.

    • Believe it or not, the thugs from the first robbery were caught about a half hour later (by my police officer Dad, no less!). On a side note, it turns out one of the guys had accidentally shot himself in the groin when he tossed his gun in the back seat of a second getaway car and it accidentally discharged, so he was in bad shape when he was arrested. All three were also wanted for murder in another incident. They all went to prison. I don’t know their current status.

      As far as I know, the guys from the second robbery were never caught.

  • kt

    two pieces of advice 1] a can of mase with you all the time or 2]a fully loaded 9mm. :)

  • Len, this was some pretty scary stuff. My brother also got robbed in a pizza joint. It was Christmas Eve and they stuck a shotgun in his daughter’s face. Unlike what happened to you, they robbed all of the customers. Luckily, nobody got hurt.

  • cm

    Chilling stories! Daniel, thanks for asking your question, because Len’s answer makes the first story far better! (and it was already good). Sorry you had to go through those things–twice–Len, but great you and the other victims came out of them both fine.

  • Mark

    Thanks for sharing your stories. I’m sure those were very intense, traumatizing situations. As for Feder’s rules, I cannot fully agree with them (aside from the fact that he’s an ex-thief). A complete lack of resistance is not always the best answer. You never know if the criminals are just there for the money or if they have other intentions. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendy%27s_massacre
    That incident happened a couple blocks from where I grew up. I remember when it happened. Yes, it was quite disturbing. Sometimes criminals have more on their mind than just money.
    I personally believe in the right of the individual to protect themselves. In the heat of the moment, the police will not be there. Their only job is to catch criminals after the incident. That’s why I have taken steps to train and educate myself on how to react in dire circumstances like the ones you described. I carry a concealed weapon for just those extreme situations.
    Now, in both the situations you listed, I would have done the same thing you did most likely. But what if the robbers began to execute people or began leading people into a back room for some unknown purpose. At that point, I’m content to know that I would have had additional options to act towards the safety of my family and would not have been forced to sheepishly hope for the best.
    I’d recommend reading this article by Jeff Snyder. It’s an excellent piece on the matter: http://jim.com/cowards.htm

    Just my thoughts

  • WOW DUDE THAT IS NUTTY! I glad everything worked out for you.

    Where are you from? Bad area, or was it just bad luck?
    .-= Evan´s last blog ..Most People that Tell You They Don’t Want to be Wealthy are Lying =-.

  • Wow, that’s an epic story! It’s fortunate no one was hurt. Sadly, I predict the US economy is going to have another serious downturn soon and the incidence of violent crime will go up as a result.

  • Jenna

    I think it’s also good to point out if your somewhere with children and a robbery is happening to tell them to close their eyes. Never know what is going to happen.

    • @kt: Preferably number 2. :-)
      @Bret: I wonder if it was the same joint, knowing where you grew up. The pizza joint I was in was near the corner of Euclid and Foothill. I’m not sure if it is still there – to be honest I can’t remember the name of it either.
      @cm: Here is a little more about the first robbery. My dad was aware the guys robbed a grocery store, but at the time he did not know it was the grocery store I was working at. Of course, he didn’t know one of the men he caught had his teenage son held on the ground with a sawed-off shotgun at his head – which is probably a good thing for the guys he caught. I never found out if the guy who shot himself was the one who tossed me to the ground and held me at gunpoint.
      @Mark: I do understand a complete lack of resistance is sometimes ill-advised. I’ve been told to NEVER get into a car at gunpoint because you stand a better chance of surviving – even if the perpetrators shoot you on the spot. It makes sense to me. For the record I am a strong proponent of both the second amendment and the right of all law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. I think we’d see a lot less crime – robberies especially – if more people carried concealed weapons.
      @Evan: I grew up in a very rough-edged, blue-collar, steel town called Fontana, California. NASCAR fans know it because there is a racetrack there on the site of the old steel mill. The grocery store robbery was in Fontana. The pizza robbery was down the road a bit.
      @Jennifer: I too expect another serious downturn, but I hope you are wrong about the increase in violent crimes.
      @Jenna: Agree completely. I can’t imagine subjecting kids to the terror of an armed robbery.

      • Len,

        My brother got robbed at Rocky’s Pizzeria on the corner of Fourth and Vineyard. It was in the same strip mall as the supermarket I worked at. My little sister also got robbed at gunpoint at the five and dime store a mile away, when she was only sixteen. I worked for Stater Brothers for five years and luckily I was never robbed. But, I did chase down a lot of shoplifters and I’m not sure I would recommend that anymore.

        If anyone grew up where I did in Ontario, CA or where Len did a couple of miles away in Fontana (aka Felony Flats), you would certainly appreciate your second amendment rights. Thankfully, the crime rate has dropped a lot. But, as the saying goes, “When seconds count, the cops are only minutes away”. I put the safety of my family above all else. Criminals make their own rules.

  • Holy crap – twice? And while I’ve never met Len, I’m fairly certain he’s not the kind of person who seeks out trouble.

    I’ve used a gun in a home invasion (relax, I was on the defensive end) and managed to suffer nothing worse than, of all things, a bite mark. I do know that had I acquiesced in the face of three relentless thugs, I would have suffered a lot worse. (Then again, I don’t live in California, where last I checked it was illegal to say the word “bang” without a permit and a valid reason for doing so.)

    • Yikes! Home invasion? Did you have to discharge your weapon, or was the fact that they found out you were armed sufficient enough to defuse the situation? Re: California (and other restrictive places like DC) The problem is the criminals couldn’t care less about the gun control laws that are on the books.

  • My aunt works as a bank teller. She’s been robbed a few times, unfortunately. Last time the guy said he had a bomb. She’s really good with protocol, didn’t alert anyone until he was out the door at which point she activated the silent alarm AND locked the bank doors so he couldn’t re-enter.

    Fortunately, the security cameras picked up some great pictures and acquaintances turned him in. He went to trial and the photos & video meant she didn’t even have to testify. She’s one cool lady, but she wasn’t looking forward to it.
    .-= Mrs. Micah´s last blog ..Is It Worth Taking a Part-Time Job to Pay Off Debt? =-.

  • Glad to see so many supporters of the 2nd amendment! I am grateful to live in Texas where we have reasonable gun laws. Much of those were pushed by one woman, Suzanna Hupp while she was a state legislator. Tragically, her parents were shot to death in a Luby’s partially due to Suzanna leaving her firearm in the car to comply with state law at the time. (story here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzanna_Hupp)
    .-= Jennifer Barry´s last blog ..Home Sweet Home or Debt Trap? =-.

  • Most of us don’t experience this even once, but you got hit twice–wow!

    Actually, my wife did experience the many years back when she worked in a high end suburban jewelry store–in a quiet, prosperous, “safe” area where such things aren’t supposed to happen.

    She and another girl were the only two in the store not long before closing (it was after dark of course) when a guy in with a gun and head covered in a stocking came in and did the deed.

    Fortunately, this guy might have been a professional because the whole thing was super smooth. He came in when the place was empty, never raised his voice, quietly demanded they empty the safe and major content of the jewelry counters, then vanished into the night, never to be seen again.

    My wife said pretty much what you did, that it took them completely off guard. They never expected it, never imagined it happening especially in that location. But they did exactly what the robber said and no one got hurt.

    Just a guess here, but I’m guessing shock played a part in their survival. They both kind of froze, and did what they were told. The robber got what he wanted and left quietly, and their lives were preserved.

    Afterward, the police and the owner all told them that what they did (quietly cooperating) wss absolutely the right thing to do. Insurance will cover the money and the stuff, but a cool head is about the only thing that saved their lives.
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Some Jobs Are NOT Worth Having =-.

    • @Jennifer: I’ve always been a strong believer in the people’s right to bear arms. I’ve never understood the fear that some people have of law abiding citizens carrying concealed weapons, or their desire to restrict the rights of others to own guns,even in their own home.
      @Kevin: Glad your wife came out of it okay. I think in most cases, quiet cooperation is the way to go, even if you are packing a concealed weapon.

  • Man that’s nuts, Len. Two times!?

    I haven’t been mugged, so to speak, but about 7 years ago, I was confronted by a group of four guys who told me to give them money. Guess I failed tip #1, cause I told them I had none (well, I didn’t)…and I kept walking, right through and then past them! I did get a beer bottle thrown my way, but it shattered harmlessly on the pavement.

    In hindsight, maybe it was a stupid move; the fact that it was daylight on a busy street might have helped. I was reminded recently that I’ve long had this fearless streak coupled with a (sometimes) lack of regard for personal safety. If not for the grace of God (and the guardian angel assigned to me) who knows what might have happened. But it is because of that grace that I’m confident (beyond being 6’1″ with an athletic build) that no weapon formed against me can prosper.

    Thanks for sharing all of this.
    .-= ChrisFM´s last blog ..Programming notes =-.

  • Wow.
    Wow.
    All I can say.
    I’m just glad your manager didn’t tell you, “Get the license number of that car, M**********r!!!”

  • Len, sidebar here on carrying a concealed weapon…I read a while back, that carrying a gun is worse than useless IF you’re not prepared to use it, which most people aren’t. I’m not, so I’ve never carried one.

    If you have a gun, you’re inviting a gun battle, probably with someone who IS prepared to use it, probably has experience and no reservations. No matter what kind of weapon you have, you’ll be outmatched and you’d be better off completely unarmed.

    I don’t know if most people ever think about it that way, but it makes sense to me. In your case, you’ve survived two armed robberies without being armed yourself, so maybe we underestimate the importance of intelligence as a “weapon”.
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Some Jobs Are NOT Worth Having =-.

    • “Was told in shootouts
      stay low and keep firin’
      keep extra clips for extra s***”

      Biggie Smalls, “Kick In The Door”

      If you ever get into a gun battle, assume people know THIS much. And you better not ever run into someone who plays Modern Warfare 2 professionally. ;)

      …yes, I’m being facetious.
      .-= ChrisFM´s last blog ..Programming notes =-.

    • I would never recommend carrying a gun if you don’t know how to use it, but I would recommend learning how to use one. Assuming the robber is competent is probably a good idea, but it is also probably not true. Many times it is some young kid that stole the gun and is using it for intimidation. I highly doubt he spends a lot of time at the range practicing.

      I’m convinced that I have had far more practice shooting than the average joe criminal and would not expect him to be better than me.
      .-= Derek Clark´s last blog ..Nashville Flood, How You Can Help =-.

  • Len that is crazy….. Two times!!! I am glad you live to tell the tales.

    The politics of guns could be discussed forever and we would never all agree. Personally I can see the arguments but I don’t agree they should be legal… If some brave citizen had pulled their firearm in either of your incidents it could have caused a massacre!

    Growing up in UK as a kid there were hardly any guns. I only ever saw a gun when I went to the army base to learn how to shoot with the boy scouts.

    As for these days more guns are making their ways onto the streets and the police are still not armed so the argument is a lot more tricky!…. I still have to stick to my pacifist beliefs though!

    All thoughts aside, calmness is the best action in any bad situation I would imagine!
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..Bartering Websites and Finding a Local Barter Network =-.

  • Mark

    @Kevin: Carrying a concealed weapon is certainly not something to take lightly. With the added power comes much added responsibility.

    That being said, fear of responsibility is a lousy excuse not to carry a weapon. I would much rather have my life and the life of my family in my own hands than trust in the “goodwill” of a lawbreaker. I’ve been carrying a pistol for two-and-a-half years now and have done a lot of training and studying to make myself a more effective and responsible carryer. A few things I do know: 1) A gun is NOT appropriate in most conflicts. You must use equal force to address the problem. Guns are only for life-or-death situations. Most concealed carry training courses cover this issue. 2) The vast majority of criminals are cowards. When confronted with the possibility of serious harm, they will run, not escalate the conflict. 3) In a conflict, a firearm is an equalizer not a handicap. Pick up any issue of American Rifleman and you’ll find story after story of senior citizens, single ladies, etc. fighting off criminals that were their physical superior. If a criminal presents a gun, THEY were the ones who started the gun fight, not you. Having a firearm gives you a fighting chance when otherwise you’d have been helpless.

    So while I respect your right to not carry a weapon, I heavily disagree with your statements. Of course we must be intelligent and judicious in our actions, but there is much more to it than that. If you get a chance, please read the article I mentioned earlier (http://jim.com/cowards.htm).

    Thanks

  • @Kevin: Even if you don’t want to carry a gun, and in many places you can’t legally, you can still improve your odds by learning self-defense. My husband has taken a lot of Krav Maga which teaches you how to counterattack a violent criminal and then escape.
    .-= Jennifer Barry´s last blog ..Panama: Gateway to the World, Part 2 =-.

  • Wow, that must have been terrifying! I couldn’t imagine having a gun placed against my head!

    I’ve been shot at, but I don’t think the shooter was directly aiming at me (I use to go motorcycle riding thru the woods). Still it scared me enough to get out of there and fast! But this pales compared to having the gun right on the back of your head!!!

    From those 2 experiences, I bet you don’t carry much cash on you!
    .-= Money Reasons´s last blog ..Lemons to Lemonade – Mowing To Excercise and Save Money =-.

    • @MrsMicah: Speaking of silent alarms, in my case, our store had silent alarm buttons at all the check stands – which a couple of checkers activated. I’m glad the cops got there late – I think things would have been a lot different had they got there with the robbers still inside (as in hostage situation). I’m glad your aunt has stayed safe working as a teller. That is a job fraught with peril – even though most bank robbers have learned “the quiet approach for modest money” is a better way to go than storming the joint with guns ablazin’ looking for a single big payday. Is it just me, or does robbing a bank seem too darn easy nowadays? How many times do I hear about people walking up to the teller and saying (without showing it, of course) they have a knife, gun, bomb, weapon of mass destruction, and then they simply walk out the door with a big old wad of cash. Most of the times, these people get caught because they are locals. I bet if somebody didn’t mind moving from city to city for a few years, they could rob one or two banks per state before moving on to another part of the country and live pretty much for free. I’m rambling.
      @Matt: LOL. My manager may have said exactly that, now that you mention it. Just kidding. ;-)
      @Kevin: I can only thank God He let me escape unscathed twice, even though I was unarmed. I know if I was in the same position for a third time, I’d still much rather have a gun at my side – just in case. I completely understand that if you pull out a gun you better be prepared to use it.
      @Forest: You can be calm all you want, but if a robber has a gun and it is obvious he is going to use it, an unarmed man has virtually ZERO chance of coming out unscathed. I think Mark articulated my thoughts better than I could when he said “I would much rather have my life and the life of my family in my own hands than trust in the “goodwill” of a lawbreaker.”
      @Mark: Amen, brother.
      @Jennifer: Great suggestion!
      @Bret: I used to chase down shoplifters too – being the oblivious invincible teenager I was. Plain stupid. Sometimes the shoplifters fought back (with fists) – usually the ones who were out on parole or were wanted by the cops.
      @MoneyReasons: Oh, no! I don’t ever carry much cash on me – but not because of those robberies. I just prefer the convenience of credit cards! (No charge for the plug, Mr. Credit Card and Joel at Credit Card Chaser!) :-)

  • The safety issue is one thing that I hated about being in a retail setting in the past. Fortunately, I never got held up although there were a few times that I felt uncomfortable. I’m so glad you came out unscathed.
    .-= Roshawn @ Watson Inc´s last blog ..Uncommon Money News (Vol. 93) & Round Up =-.

  • Mark and others – I strongly favor the right to keep and bear arms, but my point was that Len survived TWO armed robberies by keeping his cool. No heat packed either time.

    We often think a gun is the answer in these situations, and it might be. I’m just wondering if most people would have the will and/or presence of mind to actually use it? Or for that matter, will their be a happy ending if they did?
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Some Jobs Are NOT Worth Having =-.

  • Mark

    Kevin, your concerns are very real. I’ve never been in a life-or-death situation, and I pray I never will be. Honestly, I don’t know how I would react. All I can do is prepare as best I can and pray.

    If you’re curious, there’s a podcast called Armed Citizen that you can tune in to. All the guy does for like 50 episodes is read recent news reports of armed citizens refusing to be victimized and coming out on top. I like to think that happy endings do happen.

    Cheers

    • @Roshawn: Thank you, friend.
      @Kevin: Tough question, but if put in another armed robbery situation, I would be more relieved to know that a law-abiding citizen was among us carrying a concealed weapon – just in case the unthinkable happened – than to know that none of us “good guys” were armed. I would gladly put my trust in that law-abiding citizen and pray that he/she would be able to make the right decision as to when/whether to use their weapon.
      @Mark: Bravo on the link you provided, “A Nation of Cowards.” Thanks so much for sharing it.

  • Len, great stories! Going through an armed robbery like that, or having a gun put to your head, isn’t something you can completely describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it, and not something you would wish upon anyone.

    I also have been through an armed robbery and at one time had a gun put to my head. To this day that was the most terrifying incident I’ve ever been through.

    I was walking home from school my sophomore year of high school, walking on a city street through a neighborhood in Minneapolis that had it’s share of drug use and crime. I was about half way home and near a relatively busy intersection when out of the corner of my eye I saw someone run up from behind me and put his arm around my neck (he was a big guy because I’m 6’4″, and he was about the same height as I was). With his arm around my neck he then put a gun to my head.

    Of course I was terrified – and the person, probably a drug addict or something along those lines, told me to give them all my money. As a 15-16 year old at the time, I didn’t really have any money, except for a quarter in my pocket – and told him so.

    He swore at me, and saw some kids walking towards us on the busy street. He let me go and He started walking the other direction. I took off running in the opposite direction.

    There is a profound sense of having been violated when someone threatens you with death and actually gets to the point where they have a lethal weapon to your head and could take your life with the twitch of a finger. It’s a humbling experience, one that really makes you think long and hard about life. Thankfully God was with me that day, and I wasn’t harmed. It could have easily ended very differently.
    .-= Peter´s last blog ..Should I Have Bought An Extended Warranty? =-.

  • Len..wow. I grew up just down the road from you in Ontario, which I never knew before.

    I also never realized how dangerous the area was that I lived in. My wife is always saying how scary it is going back to Cali for vacation but I always feel at home, and have a good time. I guess I should open my eyes to the dangers there..
    .-= Jesse´s last blog ..8Coupons and Geolocated Deals =-.

  • Wow, Ron, do you live in a Tarontino movie or something? Twice in one lifetime. Only in America.

    Obviously if you hadn’t made it I wouldn’t have ever ‘met’ you so I wouldn’t know what I’d missed – but I’m glad you made it! ;)

    I have had a slightly similar feeling of helplessness. It is indeed awful. When I finally came around I wanted to return the next day and hunt down all the perpetrators and wreak bloody revenge – and I’m about the most physically peaceful person you can image. (I didn’t).

    Some of it I think is wounded pride. There’s a lot of crap that goes with being a man, and it’s not all logical.
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..The biggest threat to long-term wealth =-.

    • Len, I have no idea why I just called you Ron after commenting on this blog for well over a year.

      I think it’s the excitement of the story! ;)
      .-= Monevator´s last blog ..The biggest threat to long-term wealth =-.

    • @Peter: Seems we have a bit in common. Both had guns put to our heads as teenagers. What a scary story! At least I could see what was coming. Yours was more of a bolt out of the blue. Those kids walking toward you probably saved your life, Peter. I’m glad you are still here with us! Thank you also for capturing the part about feeling violated. I completely forgot to mention that point. In fact, I was a little bit skittish of humanity for awhile after my first incident. It took me several months to not be jumpy every time I heard screeching tires, for example.
      @Derek: You may be right, but then again they could be experienced killers too, as the gang was in my first incident.
      @Jesse: Hey, small world! I know it sounds like I grew up in the wild wild west, but I think the risk is no different than other big cities. I feel completely safe living in Southern California and never give it a second thought. :-)
      @Monevator: Wow, are you saying you too were robbed at gunpoint, Investor? If that is true, us PF bloggers (you, me and Peter) seem to be over-represented in the “victim of armed robbery” department. I didn’t feel like hunting down any of my robbers. In the first case, my dad caught them and one of them got the karma returned to him when he blew off his bits with his own shotgun. In the second case, I think I was just glad to have escaped a potentially terrible fate for a second time and didn’t really care about anything else.

  • Spedie

    Reading these stories brought knots to my stomach. I, too, have been a victim of violent crime more than once.

    I don’t ever want to go through that again.

  • I appreciate the article. However, I think that this activity is going to increase in our future. Therefore, I recommend that everyone get trained adequately for this scenario, and I think that everyone should have a CCL (concealed carry license) and a 15 shot loaded 9mm with hollow point destroyer shells, on hip or in purse. I live in Texas. If either one of these scenes would have happened, someone would have taken out the first robber. While the other robbers were turning to point and shoot, other pistols would be coming out and the whole scene would be over in no more than 5 seconds – with at least 3 robbers dead and possibly no one filled with buckshot. When robbers know that the citizens are armed, they won’t come in to stores like you said. Your robbers were CONVINCED that none of you were armed.

    Last scenario – what if the robber blew your head off after he pointed the gun to your head? Now, everyone who is submitting nicely realizes that they’ve just witnessed a homicide, and their own chance for survival has just dropped dramatically. Now it’s certainly time to make a move for the sake of you and the others, and take at least one of those bastards out before everyone gets killed. Texas Luby’s cafeteria – that gunman shot 17 people dead before he killed himself. No one was saved, no one won. How many of those 17 would have BEGGED for a gun that day to take a chance with their own life to save a few?

    Those are the thoughts of a guy who’s done being submissive and nice. I might have hands up and looking down when confronted, but be rest assured that I’ve already made the decision to kill you WHEN, not IF, I get the chance.

    Trained and ready!

    • I agree, Daniel, that the world would be a much safer place if more law abiding citizens carried concealed weapons. The folly of gun control is that it assumes criminals will abide by the law. Of course, the criminals don’t – meanwhile us law abiding responsible citizens are left defenseless.

  • Financial Bondage

    bottom line. give them what they want. crazy stuff. I agree with Daniel, he makes a good point.

  • Susan Stracuzzi

    Ironically on the day you submitted this we were broken into by 4 masked guys with a shotgun and bat. they held my children by gunpoint and my husband and I were also held with a gun pointing at us. they demanded cash and gold. We are still dealing with the after math of terrror and my little guy has problems sleeping alone. I don’t think our life will ever be the same. How long does it take to feel normal and not think about it?

    • Len Penzo

      Hi Susan. That’s absolutely terrible; I’m so sorry to hear about your family’s recent ordeal. Regarding recovery, I think a lot of it depends on the person. Your little guy may have a tougher time than you will, simply because he is so young. In my case, it’s been so long now I can’t remember exactly when I stopped getting those pangs of fear when I was out in public, but I’m sure it took me more than several months. I hope the authorities catch those responsible.

  • How sad that this happened to you – twice! I am happy, though, to hear that you were able to learn from the first incident, and share your advice with us.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Question of the Week:

Chocolate, vanilla or strawberry?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...