February 25, 2005

A Few Good Men; Sadly Just A Few

A multiple shooting resulted in two deaths (not counting the murderer) & several injuries (via The Geek With A .45). One of the deceased was a bystander who drew his pistol & shot the murderer before being shot. This isn't the first time this has happened. I refer you to this post called An Ohio CCW Holder Is Dead for the details on the previous incident.

The article about the shooting in Tyler, Texas makes a few points I want to discuss a little more in depth & offer correction on.

"A Tyler man embroiled in a bitter child support dispute opened fire Thursday on his ex-wife and son with a high-powered rifle, killing the woman and a bystander who attempted to intervene."

I object to anyone who attempts to murder his ex-wife & child being called a man. That aside the rifle used was not a high power rifle. It was an AK-47 copy. That makes it medium powered. The AK typically fires a 7.62x39 cartridge that's ballisticly a little weaker than the old .30-30 Winchester cartridge used in lever actions since the mid 1890's.

& as the story unfolds we'll see the bystander did more than attempt to intervene. He did intervene & probably saved the kids life.

"The 43-year-old suspect, who was wearing multiple layers of body armor, died in a hail of police gunfire after authorities rammed his pickup and he emerged, gun raised and firing."

Trite clichés are the staple of any story involving firearms. "Hail of gunfire" being a pristine example. But the multiple layer of body armor is slightly inaccurate. He had on a bullet resistant vest & a flak jacket. Why the flak jacket I have no idea as they're only good for stopping big pieces of slow moving metal. They're useless against small pieces of fast moving metal, like bullets.

"The dead, both of Tyler, have been identified as Maribel Estrada, 41, and Mark Allen Wilson, 52, a personal trainer and gun enthusiast. The wounded include David Arroyo Jr., 23, the suspect's son, five law enforcement officers and two bystanders."

Not merely gun enthusiast; hero could probably be used appropriately. Citizen should be used with reverence. The man was killed in an attempt to protect the lives of people he likely didn't even know. No, he deserves much more respect than mentioning two of his interests.

"Authorities surmised afterward the deceased never had a chance."

Which deceased are they speaking of? But in both cases there was a chance. In the case of his ex-wife the chance was slim as she did little to provide for her defense. In the case of Mr. Wilson the chance was good considering he was prepared to defend not only himself but others. Good does not mean inevitable though & even when we do all we can to prepare for something we can succumb to it. It's a sad truism in life that sometimes things just don't go our way. But perhaps his chances would have increased if he'd have spent more time practicing for defense against attackers wearing bullet resistant vests. The Geek With A .45 discussed this in a post called Targeting Data that everyone should read.

"Details continue to emerge, but preliminary evidence suggests Arroyo planned the ambush to the minutest detail.
He was armed with an AK-47, two types of body armor and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, said Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle."

Apparently his plans didn't include taking on an armed civilian or two. It didn't stop him but it probably threw off his plans enough to prevent him from killing more people than he did.

"Authorities were still trying to determine how Arroyo obtained the weapon and body armor, and officers were searching his home in Tyler Thursday evening."

Unless for some reason he was prohibited from owning or possessing weapons then where he got them wouldn't be that relevant. Bullet resistant vests are available everyplace, even on the internet. I believe California has or at least discussed outlawing their use by non government folk but in all the other states there's no prohibition on buying or wearing defensive clothing.

"Within a span of about two minutes, the downtown square in Tyler was transformed to a landscape of shell casings, broken glass and stunned witnesses."

These kinds of things can happen very fast. That's why it's important to be prepared right now - not in a few minutes. A few minutes may be too late.

"I saw people lying everywhere that had been shot,' said a dazed Nathan Hoffman, an attorney working directly across the street from the courthouse when shots rang out."
"I saw a guy walking down the street with a high-powered rifle shooting at the courthouse," Hoffman said. "I said, 'Everyone move to the back of the office!'"

Actually it was a medium powered rifle. Not that it mattered to the victims but it is worth mentioning since distortions & lies are a staple of the anti-gun lobby's strategy.

"By then, the scene erupted in chaos.
The gunman, Hoffman said, was 'just running down the street shooting."

In front of a courthouse where you'd assume there'd be cops aplenty a lone murderer runs down a street almost unmolested. & what was the reasoning for banning firearms possession in cities or on city property again? I don't think Tyler bans anything but Texas law is pretty harsh about carrying - it's a permit or no carry at all for pedestrians.

"The noise prompted Mark Wilson, a gun enthusiast, to intervene as Arroyo continued to fire on his wounded son."

"Responsible Citizen" would have been more apt. He took an active part in his & his community’s defense. But to most people the only types of persons that would carry a gun are simply gun nuts. "Gun enthusiast" is merely the reporter trying to be nice about it.

"They traded shots, missing each other, and then the gunman hit Wilson and Wilson went down,' said Nelson Clyde III, publisher of the Tyler Morning Telegraph, recalling the shooting as he watched from Don Juan's."

I'd wager that Mr. Wilson did hit the murderer, but the bullet resistant vest prevented his shots from being effective. I could be wrong though.

"The gunman walked up to Wilson and shot him while he was on the ground,' Clyde said. 'I couldn't believe what I was seeing ... it was sickening."

I'd imagine it was. What was worse is that except for one other person Mr. Wilson was fighting by himself against the murderer.

"He was either wounded or dead, but the guy (Arroyo) shot him again to make sure he wouldn't get up,' said witness Brandon Malone, a Tyler builder who was lunching inside Don Juan's."

Witness. How many times have you heard the authorities tell us our job was to be good witnesses? Thankfully Mr. Wilson & one other person didn't buy into that. It’s a shame that everyone else in front of the courthouse that day did.

"Witnesses said Arroyo calmly walked to his truck, still trading shots with an unidentified man lying beside a Chevrolet, and climbed inside."

I hope that unidentified man is identified & properly lauded for his actions. Between him & Mr. Wilson it's safe to say that they saved a number of lives that day.

More on Mr. Wilson:

"Wilson approached the suspect and fired several times, but the shots appeared useless due to the multiple layers of body armor, witnesses said.
He was wearing both a bulletproof vest and a military flak jacket.
Arroyo turned and fired on Wilson, killing him just a few feet outside the front door of Levine's clothing store. The suspect climbed into his maroon Chevrolet stepside pickup and sped away.
Witness Ron Martell, a military veteran who watched the killing spree, trailed the fleeing suspect and pointed him out to police.
'At first, I couldn't believe it,' he said. 'I watched the suspect shoot that guy at least seven times. Then he got into his truck and casually drove away. I followed him."

If Mr. Wilson had been able to aim for the neck or head then he might be alive. Similarly if he'd have had a more powerful pistol he might be alive. Bullet resistant vests are designed for a certain power level. For instance one will stop a bullet of a certain weight fired at a certain velocity from a .38 Special but not from a .357 magnum. For a slightly more in depth explanation see this previous post of mine on the subject (you'll have to scroll down just a little to get to the part about vests).

But Mr. Wilson acted as any good citizen should act, which in today's world (even in Texas) is rare to the point that it's admirable.

"Obviously he came prepared because he came with a bulletproof flak jacket,' said Chief Swindle. 'Witnesses reported seeing him reload.'
Swindle said of the law officers on the scene, 'They were simply outgunned. They were armed with handguns and he (Arroyo) was armed with an AK-47."

Chief Swindle (& it's with great restraint that I don't comment on his name) is ignorant about a great many things it seems. There is no such thing as a "bullet proof flak jacket". Flak jackets are designed to stop large slow moving pieces of metal such as grenade fragments. Bullet resistant vests are designed to stop small fast moving projectiles such as bullets. There is no such thing as a "bullet proof vest" let alone a "bullet proof flak jacket".

The cops were not outgunned. I believe it was the honorable Jeff Cooper who once said that you're never outgunned if you don't miss. A handgun is not a handicap if you use it properly. Nothing was mentioned about range but a handgun can be used with great effect to at least 100 yards providing the training has been adequately addressed. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's not impossible or even improbable to use a handgun at ranges greater than 25 yards. As such unless the murdered was over 100 yards away the cops’ weapons shouldn't have been that much of a handicap. Certainly it wasn't the ideal choice but they did end up shooting the guy & stopping him.

& what the hell does the murderer reloading have to do with anything? It was said as if it indicated something sinister or other worldly. A bad guy wants to shoot up a lot of people so he reloads when he runs out of ammo. That's to be expected.

What is surprising though is he wasn't rushed while he was reloading. That's a failure on the part of the people who witnessed it. Something similar was done to apprehend a shooter in a NY mall just a few weeks ago. Sure; it would have been dangerous but if they were close enough to see him reloading I'd say they were already in danger. Trying to rush the guy between mags wouldn't have made them any less safe than they were.

"Arroyo had previously told his wife he would kill her if she pressed the issue of child support, authorities said.
'He came here with one thing in mind,' Swindle said. 'He had the act set in his mind to murder his ex-wife. He has a history of assaulting his ex-wife and several weapons offenses."

So he probably was prohibited from possessing a weapon. Someone want to tell me what good such laws do?

But since his ex-wife knew he was a threat she should have taken some measures to defend against him. She very well may have & just been caught unawares. But odds are she was in Condition White.

"Swindle said the armor worn by Arroyo was designed to withstand not just bullets, but also landmine explosions"

Not withstand, but rather to help protect against. & again what the hell does that have to do with anything? I'm real curious as to why he had a flak jacket but I don't think it gave him any superhuman ability. All a flak jacket means is the grenade has to be real close to damage his torso. But what the flak jacket would stop would be things that likely would be peppering his arms legs & head. Maybe he thought it'd provide some protection against ricochets? Who knows? But other than a curiosity the flak jacket seems insignificant.

& it's not armor. I know it's called body armor but that's a misnomer. "Defensive clothing" or "protective clothing" would be more apt.

"Authorities credited Wilson with possibly saving the life of Arroyo's son, who was reported to be in fair condition."

That's partially correct. In all likelihood Mr. Wilson probably saved multiple lives. & the unidentified person who was firing at the murderer deserves an equal share of the credit.

Two armed citizens who were not employed by the government drove off a murderer. One of them did so at the expense of his life. They should be lauded for their actions, just as others should be shamed that they were incapable of doing their duty as these two fine citizens did. We need more like them, but I fear we'll have to make do with the few we have left.

Posted by Publicola at February 25, 2005 05:23 AM

Thankfully, Wilson was prevented by law from buying any armor piercing ammunition for his gun. Someone could've gotten hurt!

Not that I know that AP ammo would've helped or not -- I'd rather not criticize such a man's decisions or selection of hardware. I'm sure he did his best, and he died a hero. But I'm sick of the implication that certain equipment is 'too dangerous' or 'not suited' for civillian ownership.

Posted by: Peter Barrett at February 25, 2005 11:35 AM

Here, as on 9/11, government failed as the bravest of citizenry, armed and proud, served with distinction.
Why do we pay all those officers, etc, again?

Posted by: W at February 25, 2005 11:39 AM

Another death caused by the AP pistol ammo ban.

If he had an FN5&7 with proper AP ammo, he would have prevailed.

Posted by: Kristopher Barrett at February 25, 2005 12:09 PM

What I find hard to credit is how few (apparently) were armed. This is Texas? I grew up in Texas. Back then, practically everybody had a rifle in their vehicle. One well-placed full-power rifle round would have stopped this guy dead.

Posted by: L at February 27, 2005 05:34 PM

By doubling up on the body armor, he increased it's effective rating. I am sure that both were made of Kevlar. He just effectively doubled the number of layers of kevlar. Flak vests alone can stop lighter pistols quite effectively. Even if they do not, they will have taken a lot of the force off of it, and deformed the projectile, making it easier for the subsequent layer to stop it.
No, I think that this guy was only going to be stopped by a head shot, or a shot on the proximal area of limbs...maybe.
Unless he had been shot with something like a shotgun or a .308. The .308 would have just cut through the kevlar, and even without penetrating, a shotgun blast can have the same kinetic energy as a sledgehammer travelling at 35 mph. A sledgehammer travelling at 35 mph can really ruin your day, even if it never breaks the skin.

Posted by: doc Russia at February 27, 2005 05:51 PM

It was just a matter of time until some idiot posted something stupid like "W" did. Hey W, you should take a look at some video of just how many law enforcement officers risked their lives just seconds after the murderer began shooting (www.kltv.com). Typical liberal fool-- Complaining about how the government and police have failed until you yourself are put into a position that causes you to call on their sworn duty to protect your pathetic life. Give it up idiot, you should be thanking God for where you live and for the men and women who die in order to protect your rights to post suck idiotic propaganda.

Posted by: D at March 1, 2005 10:01 AM

Chill. First of all we're talking about the protection of secxurity, not rights. If any cop or soldier was protecting rights in this country don't ya think they'd stop enforcing unconstituional laws or at least they'd arrest the people who did so?

But W's point isn't (from what I gather) too far off. It's not necessarily an indictment of the motives of the cops or soldiers, but an observation that despite motives government cannot protect everyone.

Now W is mistaken that on spetember the 11th 2001 armed citizens defended themselves but the gist of it is correct: government cannot do certain things it promises to so citizens are filling the gaps out of necessity.

& beleive me, no self respecting liberal I've ever met has ever argued that cops aren't needed because citizens handle their duties anyway.

But if you disagree with someone here then do talk about it - just be polite when you do so.

Posted by: Publicola at March 1, 2005 02:03 PM
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