Parking Lot Confrontation…
Many of you have probably already seen this story in the news or on social media.
While exiting a Chipotle restaurant, a woman bumps into a teen girl who gets rude with “Excuse you”. Almost immediately after the woman apologizes, the teen’s mother turns this minor incident into a major racial issue. Following a verbal exchange between the two parties, the woman’s husband helps her into the car, only to be threatened with physical violence and racial epithets. Finally, while the couple are trying to leave the area, the teen’s mother jumps behind their minivan and slaps or pounds on the rear window, causing the Concealed Carry Permit holder to panic and draw her gun to make the other parties back away from her family and her car.
In view of recent “protests” and other events going on across the country, many find this both justifiable and understandable. Afterall, threats were made and they were both verbally and physically assaulted by the angry mother.
Following the initial exchange, and before her husband could pull the minivan out of their parking spot, Jillian Wustenberg rolled her window down and attempted to do deescalate the situation by apologizing. The video clearly shows her pleading that she meant no offense, and that she valued black lives. She tried to apologize and get herself and her family safely away from the altercation.
Unfortunately, the other family tried to make this a racial incident. They even blocked the car from being able to get away. A safety feature on the mini-van locked up the brakes and prevented the couple from leaving the area.
When this happened, Jillian in a panicked and exited the vehicle. She drew her gun to protect her family and demand that the teen and her mother move out from behind their minivan so her family could leave.
What would you do?
This is a thinker. Put yourself in the permit holder’s place. She tried to apologize, and was called a “Racist”. Her husband tried to help, but he was threatened with physical violence. Over the previous weeks, the news was filled with stories of white people being attacked for seemingly no reason. Just days before, a man was shot while driving his care NEAR a protest. Tensions were running really high.
What would you do?
What should you do?
As a Concealed Carry permit holder, it is expected that you have more education and training, and therefore are held to a higher legal standard than the average citizen. In California, you have a duty to deescalate hostile and potentially hostile situations as best you can.
In this video, Jillian appears to try deescalation. Unfortunately, her husband Eric appears to make things worse because his need to defend his wife overtook his assessment of the situation, and the emotional state his wife was in.
Escape is usually better for you and your family than confrontation. Legally and financially, you are almost always better off leaving the area without exhibiting any form of weapon or hostility. If you know you are being recorded, as in this case, you should do everything possible to avoid the appearance of provoking the other party.
Again, Jillian appears to do a good job initially. If not for the minivan’s safety features, we might not be discussing this video. However, when the van prevented them from leaving because the teen’s mother stood behind the vehicle and struck its rear window, Jillian panicked and deployed her handgun.
Jillian’s actions represented two serious mistakes:
- Jillian waited until she had exited the vehicle to load a round into the chamber of her gun. This represented additional hostility and it put her life in further jeopardy. A serious antagonist could easily have disarmed her while she was wracking the slide.
- Jillian appears to hold her gun in the low-ready position. To a person with no training, or poor vantage point, it appears she pointed the gun directly at her assailants. Because there was no visible evidence of weaponry or significant physical size discrepancy, this looks more threatening than she intended, and potentially a felonious threat. She would have been better served to keep her pistol tight to her chest in the “High compressed ready” position. If not extended, your firearm represents less threat to on-lookers and you are better protected against somebody trying to disarm you.
Finally, without knowing any more information than this video and subsequent press releases, I would suggest the following as the best way this situation could have been handled:
Jillian and Eric handled things pretty well up until Eric decided to verbally engage. I would have recommend his silence while getting Jillian safely into the vehicle. Then, when the teen’s mother struck the vehicle, I would have recommended that Jillian dial 911 while remaining in the vehicle and making her gun ready. Eric should have been honking his horn profusely, to draw the attention of bystanders. In most cases, this additional attention would have been enough to end the confrontation, without the need to exit the vehicle and put yourself in danger. However, should things escalate, the couple would have had the 911 operator as an additional witness, and a fully loaded pistol for last-resort defensive use.
It is easy to play arm-chair quarterback. I don’t presume to tell you I would have done things much better than this couple did. I think I would do better, because I’m always running through scenarios like this in my mind.
That said, I highly recommend that we ALL look to videos and incidents like this as training opportunities. Just like physical training, the more you exercise your brain, the more likely you will get the desired results from a hostile situation where you need every bit of your intellect and emotional control to take charge.
Please consider what I suggest as the best course of action as an informed recommendation, not the final word. Also, if you have different or additional suggestions, I’d love to hear them.