Carjacking: mission incomplete
Harrisburg area police are searching for 45-year old Michael Ortiz. Last month, the violent felon’s escape from Walmart security staff was cut short by an armed woman.
Ortiz has a record of armed robberies. Walmart security staff in Swatara Township, PA were onto him this time, and pursued him inside the store. Ortiz fled the store and jumped into a woman’s car. The woman says he made a threat about infecting her with HIV if she didn’t comply with demands.
Apparently, the driver did comply for a time. But when the car rolled to a stop at an intersection, another female occupant jumped out of the car, drew a handgun, and demanded that he leave.
The overconfident Ortiz got out of the car and attempted to disarm the woman. She fired a shot in the struggle, inspiring him to run. Multiple search mechanisms including a helicopter and dogs failed to find him. Police say the woman has a concealed carry permit. Multiple charges, including kidnapping, await Ortiz when he’s caught. Here is a video, highlighting the event:
Too many details of this story are unknown to understand why the woman apparently drew after exiting the car. Was it a strategic move or necessary because of how the gun was holstered? We cannot know. The event does provide some good reminders, though, about preventing and winning in such a confrontation.
- Minimize time spent sitting in your car. I’ve said this before. Although a car can feel homey and familiar, sitting in a parked car, truck, or SUV puts you at a disadvantage should you be the target of an armed robbery or a stunt like Ortiz pulled.
- Put distance between yourself and the threat. Getting out of the car made the armed passenger more mobile and, in this case, drew Ortiz away from her friend, the driver.
- Groom and be ready to don a commanding presence. Freezing is the typical response of a person not expecting anything to go awry, especially one who navigates life unaware of their surroundings. This woman saw an opportunity, took it, and was willing to back it up with pulling the trigger when Ortiz pounced. Be ready to move, whether as a counterattack or an escape.
- Never allow yourself to be taken to a second location. Grim statistics show that people who kidnap often kill their witnesses.
- Compliance is a tool, not a plan. Compliance with an assailant’s demands is as much, or more, a roll of the dice as producing a weapon. If complying temporarily will allow you a window of escape or counter-attack, use it. Keep compliance as a tool in your defensive tool chest, but never allow it to be your only strategy.
Update: Ortiz was captured, though it isn’t clear if he had any gunshot wounds. He is charged with felony robbery and kidnapping.