Last Tuesday, a man sitting in his car at the Rumor Boutique Hotel in Las Vegas was accosted by two armed robbers. The incident happened in the hotel parking lot at 4:45 AM.
Intended victim Neil Levine is a retired NYPD officer. When asked if his professional experience helped him, he said, “I’ve never been in a predicament like this before, where I had two guns pointed at me. I’m lucky to be alive.” According to sources, Levine was carrying a handgun legally when two robbers, wielding guns, closed in from either side of the car. Levine fired, and also took a bullet in the shoulder from one of the assailants.
The injured robber was arrested and did not sustain life-threatening injuries. The other fled on foot; it’s not clear if that attacker’s identification or arrest has happened.
Levine’s shoulder injury wasn’t so severe as to keep him from giving at least two on-camera interviews. As has been mentioned on this site, talking to the press post-incident is not recommended. However, he did, and thus we’re offered an unusual opportunity to armchair quarterback in more detail.
Train for dim light: The robbery occurred shortly after nautical twilight—meaning the horizon was clearly visible, but artificial light is needed to see objects in the immediate vicinity. It’s no secret that most crime occurs in dim-light conditions, and that gun carriers should train for dim-light shooting.
Avoid sitting in a parked vehicle: Some accounts describe Levine as having been sitting in his car. As a former officer, he surely knows that being inside a parked car is akin to being a sitting duck for crime. We’re not told if the car was idling, but even if it hadn’t been, escape in the car itself is a consideration gun carriers should envision as they go about daily life with their vehicles.
Anything can be a weapon, car included: Levine used a gun to defend himself but, under the circumstances, would ramming the assailants with the car be a reasonable option? Probably. Justified self-defense doesn’t require a specific weapon. Had Levine not been legally carrying, his shooting was still justified, and the unlawful carry aspects would be addressed in separate legal proceedings.
Train for shooting from odd positions: One report quotes Levine as saying he fired about four rounds. With one hit, his performance is average for on-duty police shootings, which, according to the FBI, have a hit rate of about 25 percent. That sounds low, but remember these targets were likely moving and standing at oblique angles. Combat shooting is NOT range practice, so your range practice should include elements of combat shooting when and where it can be safely done. Shooting from within a car can be mimicked by shooting from a seated position. Shooting through glass and car doors are experiences that can be acquired in advanced classes. Don’t try them on your own.
Fight through stress: Where Levine’s law enforcement experience likely helped him the most is that he didn’t freeze in disbelief or fear. He defended himself, despite oncoming fire of what he approximated as seven rounds. Maintaining awareness of your surroundings, and expecting trouble without living paranoid, is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll take corrective action instead of freezing. The other is to engage in practice—whether it’s shooting competitions, force-on-force training, or even sports like basketball—that nurture your ability to think and move at the same time.
Train for multiple assailants: Practice the scan procedure after your shot sequences on the range. There are many schools of thought on how to do this. The point is to engage your mind after having necessary or stress-induced tunnel vision on a single target. On the range, resist the urge to check where the holes in the target are after your last shot. Instead, put your trigger finger straight and on the frame, engage your safety or decocker if your firearm has one, and look around at your surroundings. Visually discover something in each direction as you do.
Train with varying numbers of shots: An instructor at Gunsite Academy said to a class I attended that a single shot has less than a 25 percent chance of stopping an attack. Two shots ups that percentage to more than 60 percent. Don’t be in the habit of firing once, then checking to see where the shot landed. Practice sequences using steady and rapid fire. Two shots is a good start. When shooting in self- defense, the rule is SHOOT UNTIL THE ATTACK STOPS. That may be one round. It may be two magazines full. Like Mr. Levine, it’s not likely that you’ll be aware of exactly how many rounds you fired. I often hear untrained proponents of armed defense say they’ll shoot every round they have into any attacker. That kind of talk, post-incident or these days, on social media, is not reflective of the correct mindset. It’s your job to survive and win an attack. It’s the courts’ job to punish the attacker—who is, by the way, very likely to survive being shot.
Don’t talk to the media after an attack: Can we say this often enough? If we may be so brash as to further criticize Levine’s mostly effective response, he makes the unwise move of not only speaking to press, but answering their questions about the incident. Seeing photos of him sitting in his car with a bullet-shattered, raised, driver’s-side window, I can’t help but wonder if his answer to “what did they say to you?” is more of an excited utterance than a memory—even if it was at a place named Rumor Boutique! Even the most experienced practitioners of combat admit that incident recall is at its best after two or three sleep cycles, not in the minutes and hours afterward. Here's the video of him talking to the press:
This analysis is given for the purpose of education, with due respect to Mr. Levine’s effectiveness in the moment and history of service.
Sound Off Gun Carriers! What do you think about this scenario? Would you have done anything differently? Would you have spoken to the media afterwards? Let us know in the comments below. And, if you're looking for more Defensive Gun Use break-downs, give that link a click.
Image of Neil Levine courtesy of KNTV-13 Action News
Image of Rumor Boutique Hotel by Las Vegas Review-Journal