On 10:45 pm on Saturday, my wife thought someone was in our backyard. Normally we both think there is someone in our yard but its usually a possum that walks along our brick wall. The flood light from our neighbor casts a silhouette and the outline of the possum usually looks like a head until you see the tail. So when she stated that someone was in the backyard, I was thought it can’t be, its probably a possum, or you hear our son going into the kitchen.
I was wrong. After I went back to the front room, my wife comes back to me with panic in her eyes and whispers that there is someone in the backyard. My heart dropped. First, I realized that this is the second time I doubted my wife. We had an incident like this at her sisters house last Thanksgiving. Family full of people and a guy who had a mental illness ended up on the roof out the house. I’ll tell you that story another time. So here I am against faced with an unknown intruder. I retrieved my fire arm and remained calm.
I tried to get a good luck out of the back windows of my home and I realized one thing. My neighbor had flood lights and I didn’t. I couldn’t see anything. Her light blocked my vision. Second, practically every light was on in the house so peeking also gave away my position. My wife asked if she should call 911 and I said yes. I hadn’t confirm that I could see someone but at the same time I couldn’t doubt my wife a third time and say well let’s wait and see.
I realized that I had to get everyone to a safe area. My next problem, every room has a window. My son was a the dinning table eating a bowl of cereal, surrounded by windows, my daughter was sleep in our bed because she was sick. My wife was trembling in our bedroom closet and I was thinking how I should have taken your home defense course (haha). I moved my son in the room with my wife, aware of muzzle awareness and my finger was on the side of the gun. I then began to turn off all the lights in the house.
I realized that my wife wanted to know if the guy was still in the back of the house and I had to check. I opened our master bathroom window and use my flashlight on my gun to scan the backyard. I also realized that if there is someone armed that I could die right there as they have the advantage. I sliced the pie in probably the worse way possible. It was more like, stir the batter for the pie. I frantically scanned back and forth. I realized that I gave away my position but I also need to see who was out there.
The light on my gun worked better than I expected. I was able to illuminate the entire backyard practically. I also realized that I didn’t get the adrenaline dump that I expected to get because of the situation. It was almost like another on of your drills for me except without the timer going off. I was constantly thinking and not reacting and I think it may have helped calmed my wife as I wasn’t panicking with a loaded gun near my family.
My wife told me that the deputies would be here in 60 seconds. I closed the window and realized that the threat probably escaped or was hiding but we were safe as no attempt to make entry was made. When the helicopter lit my house I was relieved that someone else could get eyes on what I couldn’t at the time.
I put my firearm back in the safe as I wasn’t aware if any deputies were on site. The helicopter team relayed to the pilot and said that our side gate was open if we were aware. We never leave the gate open as we have an 8 month old puppy who would find a way to escape.
The pilot expanded their search awareness while the deputies searched our backyard and shed. They checked every storage container and trashcans. My wife handed me the phone and I continued the conversation with the operator. She happened to mentioned that the guy was wearing a motorcycle helmet.
I thought to myself that’s out of the ordinary unless this was some zombie/rioter with bat, shield and helmet like you see on TV when the Left and Right meet at a protest. I recalled at that moment that our neighbor converted his house to accept adults with disabilities. Earlier that day I noticed that they were loading a man into a van and he was wearing a helmet with clear face protection. I relayed this information to operator. Shortly after that, the pilot mentioned that they found the man on the next street behind our home. He was hiding from the helicopter.
The deputies checked with the neighbor who stated that they had a person who fit that description in their home. He was sleep upstairs, they told the deputies. They asked to check and low and behold he wasn’t there. Somehow this man with the mental capacity of a 3 year old managed to escape and ended up in our backyard.
The operator told me to meet the deputies outside our home. They gave the all clear, and returned the Latino man back to the home.
After action report
I should have had my holster belt in the closet. I used to keep it there but my wife hated how it looked and it was always out of place. I haven’t gotten my closet safe yet. This is now on my to do list.
I didn’t grab the spare mags in the safe. I have 1 mag loaded and two spare mags in my drawer safe. I even used to practice grabbing my gun and the extra mags when I dry fired. I only grabbed the gun. Time to dry fire more.
TECC training. Again on my to do list and would have come in handy if I shot the mental disable adult or if me or someone in my home or community would have gotten hurt. On my to do list.
No flood lights in back of house or cameras on my property. I had no situation awareness. Easy fix would be to install lights in the back and cameras all around. The front and sides of my house were lit, but not the back.
Didn’t lock the kids play area (Tuff Shed). There is no reason why the shed shouldn’t be locked when not in use. I got too comfortable, that will change.
Need to figure out a safe area for the family. I’m thinking the car in the garage. There are no windows in the garage it provides an multiple escape routes.
If you are out this way (Carson/Long Beach) sometime I would like for you to give me some pointers on what I could have done better. I understand that no situation is the same but with your experience I think we could stop by my home and you assess and say hey here are somethings I may have done better that would be greatly appreciated. I would compensate you for your time.
My family members all said that my training with your organization came in handy. I’m glad I understood what was at stake versus me just having a emotional response and possibly making the incident worse.
I’m grateful to have worked with you and your team over the years and I feel that the training you have provided is invaluable to me.