Workplace Intruder Event Lessons Learned

A family friend had an experience this week that I thought was worth sharing. The quotes below are his own words:

“I run a company of close to 50 employees. I have always felt the responsibility to make sure they are safe and happy. I have carried a concealed weapon for close to nine years nearly every time I have left my house. That decision has nothing to do with feeling like a self-proclaimed security guard for our staff. I have carried as a personal choice for my own protection and it just so happens that I now lead 50 people.

I have been into preparedness for five years and always enjoy Cassie’s / Loose Rounds posts on food storage or other family preparedness. A week ago, I drafted an emergency response plan for our staff that was in much more detail than previous information we had. It included information about earthquakes, fires, power outages, pandemics, and intruders, such as a robbery or potentially-violent attack. I set aside time to train our receptionists on what to do in case of a robbery. I never expected that four days later we’d experience that in such an unusual way.

I am often the first person in our building each morning. I have security cameras up on my computer monitor just so I can see who is coming in the front door while I am there (I can hear the door chime but want to make sure I know who it is). A few employees had arrived and it was normal business, until out of the corner of my eye I saw someone behind our building. The back of our building isn’t easily accessible so that was the first red flag.

I zoomed in on that camera and followed a man I didn’t recognize. He then proceeds to begin inspecting our air compressor (which was stolen last summer), our doors, and even our security cameras. Something was up. At this point, no crime had been committed, but it seemed very odd. I quickly ran across the building to another exit so I would be able to watch him from a distance (because he would have left the view of the cameras) and call the police. As I exited the solid, non-window door, the man was standing right there! He had circled around the building and was literally 3 feet in front of me as my coworker and I exited the building. This was my first stupid mistake. I was completely vulnerable and could have been stabbed, shot, or hit over the head. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Instead, I calmly and kindly asked if I could help him with anything. Expecting a response, I was very concerned when he lowered his eyebrows and just scowled at me as he walked past me.

He began his march toward the front door. I quickly entered the building and ran toward the front. (It didn’t feel right to pursue him and prevent him from going in the front door since we were on the outside of the building. First off, he was quite a bit bigger than me and, second, I wasn’t going to be the one to start a physical altercation.)

I arrived at the lobby about the same time he did, along with another coworker. Of all things, the man started demanding garbage bags (we don’t believe he was homeless nor do we believe he had a mental illness) and started taking business cards. My friend kindly introduced himself and the man responded “you’re a stranger and I don’t talk to strangers.” That was an odd comment. He was given the garbage bags and he left.

The entire time I was watching his hands and movements. I noticed a bulge under his shirt at 6 o’clock but I have no idea if it was a weapon. I immediately called the police and explained the situation, knowing that no major crime had been committed. But I wanted to report the individual casing our equipment. I was told that an officer was on his way. Well, it has been three days and he hasn’t shown up.

My coworkers and I reviewed the entire situation and watched the security camera recordings. We learned some very important things that will help us be more prepared if something like this happens again.”

-Jon

Jon was very aware of several things that were going on. Most importantly, when he was face to face with the subject, he observed the subjects hands, movements and demeanor. He also was highly aware of a bulge under the shirt at 6 o’clock that could have been a concealed weapon. Jon was focusing on a few of the (Ten Deadly Errors) as it is known in law enforcement, without even knowing it. The Ten Deadly Errors are mistakes and missed signs that can lead to an officers death when missed. While the Ten Deadly Errors are primarily for law enforcement officers affecting an arrest, I find that most (excluding #2) can apply to concealed carry citizen applications and other unusual incidents.

The Ten Deadly Errors:
1. Failure to Maintain Equipment and Proficiency
2. Improper Search, Improper Use of Handcuffs
3. Sleepy or Asleep
4. Relaxing Too Soon
5. Missing Danger Signs
6. Bad Positioning
7. Failure to Watch the Hands
8. Tombstone Courage
9. Preoccupation
10. Apathy

While all of the errors don’t apply, there are several key indicators Jon was picking up on. This showed Jon was aware of possible danger and was also prepared to respond if needed. From my assessment of the total incident, Jon did everything a responsible Concealed Carry citizen should. Jon reflected on this experience and told me he learned some valuable lessons from this encounter.

Here are a few things Jon reflected on:

1. When adrenaline kicks in, your plan goes out the window unless your training is so engrained in your mind that it becomes natural.
2. I could have done a remote lockdown on the building as soon as I saw suspicious activity and prevented him from ever coming in the front door.
3. Do everything you can to prevent becoming vulnerable. I should have exited a door where I had a visual of what was on the other side
4. At one time, my coworker turned his back to the person which made him vulnerable.
5. Police are just as human as anyone else. Restaurants mess up orders and businesses lose shipments. Mistakes happen. We were just surprised when police never showed up. But again, this fortunately wasn’t an emergency.
6. Lastly, there is no such thing as being over prepared.

Jon is right, you can never be over prepared. When an incident happens take the time to think about it afterward. You can learn from these experiences and apply what you have learned in future incidents. Personal defense and being a responsible firearm carrier is a thinking person’s game. Read, train, think and apply your experiences to formulate the most advantageous response during an incident.

Duncan.

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