Hatchet attack–shoot or run?
A deadly March 09 attack on a Burien, Washington-Eleven clerk was thwarted by a store customer who was legally carrying concealed. Just last week, the district attorney for the Burien community declared that the shooter will not face charges.
CC, age 60, (whose complete name has not been released) was a regular at the store, purchasing coffee and chatting with clerks nearly every morning as part of their daily routine. On this morning, a male wearing a mask and carrying a hatchet entered the store, and swung the weapon near CC’s head, missing him. CC drew and fired one shot from his .357 revolver. That round likely hit the attacker’s shoulder.
The assailant, a longtime felon named Steven Blacktongue, age 43, proceeded to walk toward the store clerk, who was running toward the cash register in apparent anticipation of an armed robbery. Blacktongue followed the clerk behind the counter and began striking at him. CC then fired two more shots, hitting Blacktongue in the face and chest. At this point the bad guy was inspired to stop attacking. CC held him “at bay,” says a news source, until police arrived. Blacktongue died a short time later.
Blacktongue did land one slash on the clerk, causing an abdominal injury which was not fatal. Thanks to CC’s immediate action, the clerk is alive.
Autopsy results indicate Blacktongue was high on methamphetamine when he decided to commit attempted murder. His lengthy criminal record includes meth and assault. He’d done 18 months in a state prison before receiving a supervised release, which ended two years prior to his final crime.
CC has refused to speak with the media—a wise move. Detectives investigating the shooting issued an immediate recommendation, based on physical evidence, bystander accounts, and the security camera recording, that no charges be filed. It’s not been publicly stated if CC’s handgun was confiscated at the scene, which would not necessarily be surprising after any defensive gun use, while CC’s innocence was being established.
It’s not clear if the DA’s office is always slow to respond or if there really was consideration of charging CC (with what, who knows. He was legally carrying and performed a justified shoot in the face of an immediate deadly force threat). A memo issued by the would-be prosecutor’s office declares the shooting to be justified. Hopefully CC received some inside assurance that this official announcement was coming. Waiting six months and not knowing one’s legal fate after an obviously lifesaving shoot would be nerve-wracking.
It’s easy to imagine CC defending himself from a hatchet-wielding maniac. But he also didn’t hesitate to intervene when the attack moved to the clerk. Would you have done the same? What if that clerk were a total stranger and not a member of the morning coffee klatch, would that change your decision?
Civilians who carry are not obligated to defend the life of another innocent person. It’s a personal decision, and one that should be pondered before deciding to carry. Most people consider themselves and closest friends and loved ones as being worth defending–that’s common sense. Think now of your neighbor who’s just an acquaintance—your coworkers—people you see regularly but whose names you don’t know—total strangers. Where is your line of willingness to head toward the problem, if doing so is the only thing likely to stop them from being gravely harmed?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this equation—and an unequivocal “yes” to everyone is still fraught with complications, like not knowing if the “attacker” might just be a plain clothes police officer. A tragic, similar mistake occurred between two Albuquerque officers just last year. In some situations, it may not be clear who the intended victim is. Give it serious thought now, before the decision is in your lap. You’ll be more confident in your daily carry and better prepared when faced with a split-second decision to shoot or not. Have you thought about it? Let us know what you'd do in the comments below. Then, please like our Facebook page.