Reality Check: Home Invasion
The following story and the names within the story are fiction. Any actual event or same or similar names within the actual event would be purely coincidental. The comments about what is needed to Reality Check Series take control of this situation are from the perspective of tactics and skills. The strategies and tactics reflect what I would do in this situation. Other tactical instructors may have their own variation of what they would do, which is their choice. Tactical instructors have the ability to make that choice based on their training and experience. You will be able to choose your option only if you have some training. No training translates into no choices available to you.
Carol sat in the recliner in her living room, fighting off sleep from a long day. The TV was on, but she was not really watching the show as she kept dozing off. She repeatedly forced herself awake. Finally, her eight-year-old daughter, Annie, finished getting ready for bed. She came to her sleepy mom and put her hand on her mother’s shoulder. Carol looked up into Annie’s eyes and smiled.
“You ready for bed sweetie,” she asked?
Annie responded with a smile, “Yes mom. Good night, I love you.”
Carol reached up and hugged Annie as she said, “I love you too, baby. Go to bed and get some sleep.”
Annie returned her mom’s hug then turned and walked down the hallway to her bedroom at the end of the house. Carol watched as her daughter turned off the hallway light, then walked into her bedroom, closing the door behind her. She continued to watch down the dark hallway until the light showing underneath Annie’s bedroom door disappeared.
Now that she knew Annie was in bed for the night Carol got up from her comfortable chair, switched off the TV, and went to her bedroom at the opposite end of the house. As she lay down on her bed she said a silent “I love you” to her husband Greg, who was away for a few days. Within minutes she fell asleep.
Later in the night Carol awoke to the sound of what sounded like a pot falling onto the kitchen floor. As her mind came more into focus she wondered; What is Annie doing up and what is she after?
She was about to call out to Annie, but then heard a man’s voice talking to someone. She didn’t recognize the voice, but thought; Greg must have come home from his trip early and brought someone with him. Why didn’t he call me and tell me he was coming home?
Suddenly, Carol snapped completely awake as she heard the voice of another man that she did not recognize. Adrenaline coursed through her entire body as she realized strangers were in her house. Her first thought was to call 911. Her hand came up empty as she felt the top of the nightstand, searching for her phone. Then she remembered with a fearful sigh; I left it on the stand next to the recliner.
Carol’s fear was quickly escalating into panic as she heard sounds of someone rummaging through drawers and cupboards in the kitchen that was just outside her closed bedroom door. She moved off the bed, crouched next to her nightstand, and slowly opened the drawer to reduce any noise. She reached into the drawer and felt for the revolver Greg had bought for her. It was a short barrel, 5-shot model, and it fit her small hand well.
With the weapon in her hand she stayed in a crouch next to the bed, but turned toward the door that separated her from the unknown intruders on the other side. In the darkness she felt the gun in her hand as she tried to remember how to use it. Greg had taken her to the range and showed her, but that was months ago. All she could remember now is that the short barrel made it tough to be accurate.
She fought back tears as she thought; I couldn’t shoot good then, how am I ever going to shoot someone now in the dark when I can’t even see my sights?
The noises in the kitchen stopped. Everything was quiet now. Carol listened carefully but heard nothing. She thought; Should I try to get to my phone?
A new fear suddenly flooded over her like a tsunami as she heard the unknown men’s voices further away in her house; Oh my God, Annie…
Many people own guns for self protection and home defense. Very few of them will know how to use that gun or what to do if the time should ever come to protect themselves or their family. Just knowing how to shoot the gun is not even remotely close to what you need to know. Owning a gun can provide a false sense of security.
Let’s take a look at Carol’s situation. There are two unknown males in her house and they are somewhere between her and Annie. Who are these men and what are their intentions? The men apparently do not think anyone is home since they are not making any effort to be quiet. It sounds like they are searching through the house, so it is just a matter of time before they find her or her daughter. Carol cannot call 911, and even if she could it will take time for the police to arrive; maybe a few minutes or maybe a lot of minutes.
What are Carol’s options? She could try and escape out her bedroom window and go for help. However, that leaves her daughter alone with the intruders. She could try to get to her phone and call 911, but what if the men in the house catch her? She can stay where she is and defend herself from anyone coming into her bedroom, but does she know where in the bedroom her best defensive position is, and can she hit an assailant with a limited amount of ammunition? The most demanding option, and the hardest to achieve, would be to get to Annie and protect her as well as herself. However, that would require the ability to think and possibly shoot, on the move while keeping in mind who is down range of her barrel. What a tragedy should Annie be hit with a stray bullet.
What kind of event is happening here? Home invasion, burglary, kidnapping attempt, sexual assault or something else? Carol probably will not know the true intentions of the intruders until after the event is over. For now she must be focused on defending herself and her daughter should the intruders become assailants.
The only option that does not require training is to escape out the bedroom window and go for help. What would you do, and do you have the proper knowledge and skills to make it happen? What skills and knowledge did Carol Need to handle this situation?
Initial Discovery of Intruders: Carol should have retrieved her weapon first, then felt for her phone on the nightstand. She needs the skill to shoot accurately in low light conditions. She needs to know where in her bedroom she needs to be to defend against an intruder entry. This would be the furthest corner from the door along the same wall as the door. By moving to this corner, the light from the kitchen will not hamper Carol’s vision when the door is opened, and the light will not shine on her, possibly revealing her to the intruders. Also, the intruders must actually enter the bedroom for them to see her, which puts them in a completely exposed position.
The Option to Retrieve the Phone: If Carol is going to make a move to her phone on the stand next to the recliner she needs to know how to tactically get the bedroom door open and move into an adjoining room. She needs the skill to shoot accurately while moving. She needs to know how to clear any areas of the house from one side of the phone’s location and she needs the knowledge and skill to hold a containment/defensive position after getting the phone. Clearing the areas of the house to one side of the phone’s location reduces Carol’s area of concern to just one direction instead of two. Upon retrieving her phone and getting into a defensive position, Carol should put her phone on vibrate, turn down the volume and call 911. If Carol cannot speak without giving her position away then she shouldn’t at this time. Police officers will be sent to the caller’s address even if no verbal contact is made.
Contact with Intruders:
Carol could come into contact with one or both intruders at any time. She does not know if they are armed or not. She must know to watch their hands when they come into her view to determine if they are armed, and with what type of weapon. If they do not appear armed, she must stay alert to their hands should they reach for a weapon. She must know how to give loud verbal commands and determine the escalation and de-escalation of the intruder’s actions. Only if they become a lethal threat is Carol justified to use lethal force.