I had another article ready to go this week, but something happened the other night that I thought I would share with our readers. I did not repel hordes of ninjas or anything like that. I am choosing to share this story because it seems that, all too often, we read of somewhat similar stories that end tragically.
My wife was away for a few days, so I was “flying solo” with our children. They were actually behaving themselves all day, but I was still exhausted, too much so to exercise, dry practice, etc. Knowing I had to get up extra early to deal with their morning routines by myself, I decided an early bedtime was in order. I had taken a shower and changed into sweats and a T-shirt, and was about to head downstairs to prepare their lunches for the next day. Time was about 22:30.
I heard what sounded like talking, but muffled and/or from a distance. It did not sound like either of my children talking in their sleep, but more like a television in the next room. My first thought was that a tablet, perhaps half-covered by a blanket or pillow, had been left on to some children’s program. But then I realized, just as my doorbell rang, that the sound was coming from below my bedroom window.
It is not in any way typical for people to be ringing doorbells in my neighborhood at such hours. Having just gotten out of the shower, I was unarmed, so I immediately punched the code into my quick-access bedside safe and grabbed my “bump-in-the-night” pistol, a Glock 17 with Streamlight TLR-1 HL attached. I should note here that, since I was planning to head back downstairs, several lights on the main floor were still switched on. In addition, my “regular” outside lights near all the doors, front and back, stay on all night (I also have several lights on motion sensors……I like my yard to be like the Corleone compound from Godfather II).
Rather than even go to the door, I chose instead to go to a window that allows me to see the entire front porch, approaching from the wall and then peeking through the window. From this position I could also see the street, and I saw a car parked on the street in front of my house. On the porch, I saw a 50-something Asian male holding a cell phone. I looked quickly to my back door to try to make sure there was no ruse at play here and, seeing no one, opened the window a crack and asked him what was going on. I was careful to keep my pistol well out of his view.
I will spare everyone the details, but suffice is to say that I had trouble understanding him, as his accent was pretty strong. What I figured out after about 30 seconds was that he had found a cell phone and was trying to return it to its rightful owner (I think he was actually on the phone with the owner, but probably due to language issues could not understand the address the owner was giving him). Not wanting to insert myself into this situation, I assured him that he was not at the correct address, that no one here was missing a phone, and wished him good luck. He was apologetic and went on his way (I should also note that the number of my house is prominently displayed about six feet from where he was standing at the time). I made sure he got back into his car and drove away, and then I secured my handgun and prepared some lunches.
Obviously, this situation was not in any way a big deal. However, as a creature of habit, it provided a welcome opportunity to evaluate plans, reaction times, etc.
Overall, I was pleased at my reaction time to the voices and doorbell. I recognized the location of the sounds within about 10 seconds (?), and did not fumble on my first (only) attempt to open my bedroom safe. I had my Glock 17 in my hands within about 10 seconds of the ring of the doorbell, possibly less.
Readers of Claude Werner’s blog, The Tactical Professor, are probably familiar with his strong focus on what he calls “Negative Outcomes”. If you also follow him on Facebook, he will often link to news stories about homeowners shooting spouses/siblings/children/relatives/neighbors without ever identifying them, often right at the threshold/front porch of their homes. Not wanting to ever be included in one of his links, I keep my outside lights on all night to help enable the positive identification of people outside my home. Likewise, had I needed it, I had a quality weapon-mounted light as well. Thus, I was able to quickly identify this gentleman as a probable non-threat, rather than get caught in a “shoot first, ask questions later” scenario.
My only real criticisms of myself would be that I did not grab a spare magazine from the safe when I grabbed the Glock. The Glock is loaded with 23 rounds of Speer Gold Dot 124 grain +P hollowpoints, but having a spare magazine in the pocket of my sweats would have been smart in case of malfunctions. Also, I did not grab a hand-held flashlight, even though there were several options on my nightstand. No doubt, this decision was influenced by the fact that lights inside and outside of my house were switched on, and I also wanted to get to the door as quickly as possible. Still, grabbing a light would not have cost me much time, and could have assisted in avoiding possible negative outcomes.
That’s about it. I did not single-handedly stop an invasion or do anything that different than I do any other day. I guess the lessons here are that light is good, ready access to firearms is good, and using unplanned-for events as opportunities to test yourself is probably a good thing. I would also add that having a way to talk to someone at the door without actually opening the door is probably a good thing (window, intercom, etc.). Thoughts? Critique? I welcome it all as I am sure I have not thought of everything. Please comment here or on my Facebook page. Thanks for reading.
10 thoughts on “The Late-Night Knock on the Door”
I had a similar situation occur a few months ago. I used it ( the aftermath) as a “training exercise ” and review just as you did.
I actually went out side and stopped 2 guys coming down my very dark driveway of a very rural and unlit neighborhood? (Which was a bad move I learned later). ( don’t go outside to meet the threat – let it come to you while you are behind a solid door)
Due to this episode my wife and I now keep front and back door lights on all night, we purchased a RING door bell camera system for the front and back doors so we don’t have to go to the door to answer it …we can talk to and see all who come to the doors, and my wife and I both have practiced what to do if I am not there ( I travel a lot out of town) and when I am there.
Luckily our episode was a nothing burger but it was good practice on what to do next time.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for the comment. The exact type of thing I was addressing with this article. Glad it all worked out for you and that you’re using it as a training exercise/learning experience. Nice job.
In reference to your comment about the Corleone compound, good security doesn’t require lighting up your property so that your neighbors can read the newspaper in their yards at midnight. A shaded 60 watt light, positioned above each door and vulnerable window and turned on by a motion sensor with a range of a few feet, will show you everything you need to see. Anything in excess of that isn’t security; it’s just light pollution.
The last thing our next door neighbors do before going to bed is to turn on all the lights in front of their house. They say it’s necessary because they have had two cars stolen out of their driveway. We have lived in the neighborhood longer than they and have lost nothing. The difference is that our possessions are stored indoors, not outside where they are accessible to any wandering thief.
I think it all depends on home and property layouts, proximity to neighbors, and proximity to any public streetlights. In my own case, I have pretty much what you described, with lights on all night just outside of all the doors, an extra pole light by my front walk, and then the rest of the lights are motion sensor lights. Yeah, the Corleone compound was an exaggeration.
Thanks for the comment.
That’s good to hear. For some of our neighbors, comparison to the Corleone compound isn’t an exaggeration.
LikeLiked by 1 person
50 year old Asian man? You could have just opened the door and let him in to talk.
Something very similar happened to us. I challenged him from my side of the door and he left after I let him know I was armed. The problem with my response was that I needed to be at the door to talk. We have since installed a Ring video doorbell and can see and talk to the person from a secure location in the house.
Using technology to assist you in any future similar situations seems pretty smart to me.
Thanks for commenting.