Tuesday night was pretty uneventful but Wednesday morning was a humdinger. Tuesday we had dinner and Cave tucked the kids in at their usual time, then he went to bed because he had an early shift. Silly E played around on the internet for a while and went to bed around ten. I worked for a bit but it was a slow night so I logged off when he went to bed and started puttering around the kitchen, canned a batch of monkey butter and cooked up a mess of pork to can a batch of sweet and sour pork. I was listening to the election coverage and watching a movie. I got the pork cooled and shredded, finished the movie, frowned at fox news and hoped their election predictions weren’t accurate, for a while I thought Ohio was going to pull through for us. Unfortunately it was false hope. I got disgusted with the election and decided to run the movie back up to the redbox kiosk because the one I use is awkwardly located and in a very high traffic area that makes it a pain in the neck to get to and I’d probably forget about it and rack up the late fees if I left it for later. Besides, it’s not unusual for me to run errands in the middle of the night, and it was only 0030, not that late. I went through my getting ready to go routine. I gathered my cell phone, keys, movies, LC9, and put them on the table. The dogs perked up their ears and watched me gather, while I changed into jeans and sat down to put my shoes on they did a slow stretch off of the couch and by the time I put on my scarf and coat they were dancing at their posts by the door.
I started loading my pockets, LC9 in the front right jeans pocket and went to put everything else in it’s assigned spot but the movie and cell phone wouldn’t fit because I had my gloves stuffed in my coat pockets, so I opened the door, let the dogs out, and followed them into the yard with one hand full and fiddling with my gloves with my other. Distracted and unprepared. Roxy followed me down the sidewalk to the car and hopped straight in, as is her routine. Hag, as is his routine, took off, gave the lawn a quick sprinkle, trotted over to the gate and had a look around. By the time he gets to the gate I usually have the car door open so I call him once or twice and he comes running over and takes a flying leap inside. This time he didn’t.
He stood at the gate, looking down the street to our neighbors house. I called him again, but he ignored me and continued to watch. Our cedar tree was in the way so I couldn’t see what he was looking at but I could hear an engine running and doors slamming. I paid attention but didn’t think much of it, the couple who lives there is young and comes and goes at all hours, and I’ve seen them drive three or four different vehicles in the months they’ve lived here. I saw two flashes through the tree and heard two pops then someone cursed. I swiveled and looked harder but didn’t see anything. Since Halloween we’ve had some problems with kids dumping boxes of those popper things in the road in front of people’s driveways, I figured the kids had seeded the neighbors this time but I did keep tabs on it with a corner of my brain.
Irritated because he was ignoring me I snapped HAG! but he continued watching. I heard doors slam again, then tires squealed and a big shiny white extended cab truck pulling a dinky little trailer ran up on the stop sign next to our driveway, slammed on the brakes so hard the trailer they were pulling bucked and rocked back hard enough I thought it was going to come off the hitch, and the dark colored SUV behind them that had jammed on the gas to follow them almost rear ended them. The SUV hit reverse and flew back 10 or 15 feet. Then the SUV flashed their lights on and off and backed up further, I figured they saw me and were trying to warn their friends, whom I was pretty sure didn’t see me since my car was between us. Then the passenger in the white truck jumped out and stood by the truck door. I watched and tried to process what I was seeing. Two trucks, squealing tires, stupid driving, firecrackers…it looked like idiot teenagers involved in horseplay to me. Hag put up his hackles at the kid who jumped out of the truck and started a soft growling, thankfully he didn’t bark or otherwise draw his attention.
Something the guy was holding popped and flashed once, and the SUV backed up another few feet, and I thought cap gun? Some sort of “real action” airsoft type thing? Paintballs? I thought it must be a toy because that was far too quiet to be a real gun and there was no brass pinging nor did I hear a bullet hitting anything, no puffs of dirt and I didn’t smell cordite, all things I’m used to sensing when I fire a gun. Hag didn’t even react and he was only ten feet or so from the shooter and has never heard gun fire before. The SUV revved its engine again and surged forward a foot or two and jammed to a stop and revved the engine again. The driver of the truck yelled GO GO GO and the shooter pop/flashed again and then ran North down one side of our property line (with Hag pacing him, growling and snarling when he got too close to the fence) while the truck floored it West down the block and hung a right out of our neighborhood without bothering to slow down for the turn. The SUV hesitated for a minute, long enough for Hag to come back from the back yard and stand with me staring at them, and then they too squealed out of there. I still don’t think he saw us. I told Hag up and he made his flying leap into the car, I closed the door, dumped the movie on the passenger side seat, stepped back and called 911.
I reported shots fired but told the lady that I felt it was just kids being idiots and I was only reporting it because I didn’t like such things going on in our neighborhood. Even though it was the middle of the night we still have a lot of pedestrian traffic and it wasn’t safe. I declined to give my full name but I did give her my number because she said the officer might want to call me back rather than make a trip out. This is not unusual, the jurisdiction in our neighborhood is not clear (we’re in the county, the people next door are in the city, the neighbors behind us are county, Miss E across the street is city and so is her neighbor, and we all live on state maintained roads, you get the idea) so unless it’s an emergency they call state troopers to respond and unless their presence is required they prefer to call since it can be two or more hours before they get here. Very helpful, and the criminals are beginning to catch on, but I digress. I proceeded to open the gate and left to return my movie, grumbling about morons. I was turning into the shopping complex with the kiosk when my phone started ringing so I pulled over and answered it. It was a deputy sheriff, who asked me to tell him what happened in detail. I told him everything, answered his questions and when we were done he told me that I had witnessed a thief shooting at a neighbor while he was following them because they stole his trailer. Well. That got my attention. I started shaking, and I nervously eyed every truck that I passed on the way home. Fortunately none of them were white extended cabs. Hag still had his hackles up at that point and I don’t think my sudden case of the jitters helped, he didn’t start to relax until we were back safely in my recliner.
Turns out what the cop told me wasn’t quite accurate, here’s the news blurb: http://www.live5news.com/story/20033890/thieves-shoot-at-man-trying-to-get-neighbors-trailer-back Yes this outs where I live. I’m not quite ready to invite y’all over to dinner, but I’m okay with sharing this much. After all, Every day is a Great day in South Carolina. Maybe if Gov Haley forces enough people to keep telling me that I’ll forget my tax information was stolen and start believing it.
Cave and I did an after action report tonight with my FIL joining us via speakerphone. The consensus was that I handled the situation correctly. I was wearing black, in the shadows with the car between the shooter and I, and 20 or so feet to the side so I had some concealment from him. I thought about moving to the front of the car but decided they’d probably notice me moving so I stayed put. Even though my (incorrect) assessment said it was shenanigans I still didn’t want to draw their attention. I was already concerned that the guy in the SUV had seen me and was going to create some sort of problem so the last thing I wanted was the attention of the kid with the pea shooter too.
Initially I was highly annoyed by the whole incident, after I found out it was real I was scared and shaky, and then pissed off. Oddly relieved that it hadn’t started in my neighborhood, and ticked off at myself because I saw so many things that I could have done differently. At first I said things that I did wrong, but I have been told that I came out alive so I did everything right and nothing wrong, but they asked me to come up with a list of things that I could have done differently that might have helped me be better prepared. There are many things I could have done differently, but the major points are:
- don’t leave the house with my hands full. We have all done it at some point, but in the short time since this happened I’ve been working on stopping and making sure my gun hand, at the very least, is empty before I open the door. I do this when I’m out but I didn’t expect to step out of my home and into a shots fired situation. I’m not a purse kind of girl but I’ve started carrying enough crap with me that I’ve been looking for a purse for a few weeks because I wind up with something in my hand more often than I like. I haven’t found one that I really liked and up until now I hadn’t wanted to settle but I’m getting *something* this weekend and will make it work until I find what I want.
- pay attention to what the dog is saying rather than just get irritated because he isn’t obeying; he was in condition yellow from the get go and went to orange almost immediately after, and then red as he paced the shooter and made sure he didn’t jump our fence. He was doing exactly the job we got him for and if I’d paid closer attention to what he was paying attention to I’d have had 30 seconds more warning that all was not copacetic.
- move my gun to a more accessible pocket now that it’s winter coat time. My coat is new to me this year and while it’s broken in thanks to the previous owner the leather is heavier and stiffer and it’s about half an inch longer than what I’m used to. I got it a week ago and I didn’t take the time to try drawing with it on. I have since. I need to spend more time practicing and possibly alter the pocket lining.
- If you haven’t noticed it really bothers me that I didn’t recognize the shots as gunfire. We figure that it must have been a small caliber revolver but even still I thought I should have been able to recognize it. I realized that while I have extensive experience shooting in a range, I have very little experience being around gunfire in a real situation. A real situation here would be outside, without ear protection, and in low/no light levels. I don’t know that I’ll be able to find a place that allows low light shooting but I’m going to be spending some time hanging out in the parking lot at the outdoor range without my ears on so I can get a better idea of what guns really sound like when you’re not the one firing them. I can hear it when my bullets hit a solid target through my ear protection and since they were aiming at an SUV I figured I would hear them hit it, which one of their shots by the stop sign did. I didn’t expect Hollywood ricochet sounds, but I didn’t hear anything at all. My FIL said he’s never heard the bullets hitting when he has been shot (officially it’s been three times) or under fire (he declined to tell me how many times that’s happened), so now I know that’s not something to expect either.
- I’m going to start carrying my XD9 more often. I bought and use the LC9 for pocket carry, and it works well for that. I fire it regularly and it is reliable but the XD is my favorite and the gun that I’m most comfortable with, plus I want my
security blanket15 round mags.
- I’m going to be investing in a laser with a grip switch for the XD, or something similar that doesn’t require more action on my part other than gripping the gun and firing. While I do practice more with the sights than the laser, the LC9’s laser has spoiled me for fast target acquisition. Unfortunately it has to be turned on with a switch that is about 1/8th of an inch past the tip of my fully extended trigger finger. This hasn’t been a problem during practice but I think had I chosen to fire it would have given me problems and that’s not optimal. It was suggested that I practice using my off hand to turn it on while acquiring the target but I want something that I don’t have to think about and I’d really prefer not to have my fingers that close to the muzzle when I’m defending myself.
- I’m going to take an active shooter course at B.E.L.T. training. Since I’ve already told you that I live in South Carolina, I figured it’s time to introduce you to my excellent and supportive instructors. It’s past time to continue my training. I’ve been putting it off because money has been very tight but this showed me that I’ve put it off too long. Cave has worked with us on shooter response but his training is military and geared more toward tactical evaluation and aggression which isn’t always appropriate in civilian situations. It’ll be a few months until I have the money but I’ll get there.
- We don’t have OC laws in SC and while I support it for those who want to I’ve never really felt that I would want to OC. I don’t want the attention and I don’t want to be a gun ambassador when I’m just trying to grocery shop, but I’m going to start advocating for OC laws in SC. Sometimes it’s just more prudent.
I want to think that this is an isolated incident. Unfortunately the police blotter tells me that it probably won’t be. Not including this incident, in the last 6 weeks we’ve had 5 shootings/shots fired incidents in the mile and a half of road between our neighborhood and the shopping plaza where I rented the movie, a double homicide that was not gun related and a few knife crimes too. I pray that this isn’t going to become the new routine.