What Happens When Victims Fight Back

John C. Ensslin, Jeff Kass, and Alan Gathright wrote an article for the Rocky Mountain News November 14 about a Denver shooting.

A masked man with a high-caliber, long-barreled gun and really bad timing picked the wrong Denver Vietnamese restaurant to try and rob over Wednesday’s lunch hour.

With his car parked in the back alley, the suspect barged in through the back door of Ha Noi restaurant at 1033 S. Federal Blvd. and ordered the cook to lie on the floor.

What he didn’t know was that just outside the kitchen door two plainclothes Denver undercover narcotics officers had stopped by to grab some lunch.

Within seconds, bullets and shards of glass were flying over the green vinyl chairs. …

When the shooting stopped, five people were wounded. The suspect, slumped in the front doorway, was critically injured. Three people who were caught in the crossfire, a middle-aged couple and their adult son, were also injured.

And one of the officers was cut around his eyes by the shards of glass.

The article clarifies, “One of the bystanders also underwent surgery. A third person remained in the hospital in fair condition. The officer and the third bystander were treated and released.”

Now, if it’s obvious that somebody with a weapon is only after cash and nothing else, the situation is highly dangerous, but in many circumstances the best bet is to hand over the money so that the criminal will leave as soon as possible. But, in this case, when a masked man with a rifle barges into a restaurant, it’s reasonable to suspect the worst. So, from the limited details available, its seems like the officers — “Sgt. John Pindar and Det. Jesse Avendano.” — made the right call.

The article reports that Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said of the officers, “Having them in there may have saved people’s lives today… I think we were fortunate these two officers were there.”

(Incidentally, the reporters don’t mention how they know the caliber of the gun, but, judging from the photo that accompanies the article, it doesn’t look like a very high caliber to me, though it’s hard to tell from the photo. Nor does the Denver Post article shed light on that matter. Instead, the Post reports that “an automatic weapon could be seen inside the restaurant, Jackson said,” which I highly doubt, as automatics are rare and very expensive.)

Yes, a man used a gun to injure several people. And two men with guns stopped the criminal. It appears that the criminal sustained the most serious injuries. If “we were fortunate” that those two armed men were there, if “they may have saved people’s lives,” then wouldn’t it be even better if more responsible, trained people carried concealed weapons in public places?