How not to attack an armed veteran

The story of William Lawler and his girlfriend, who were just trying to hit the grocery store in Philadelphia at 5:30 in the afternoon, has a much better ending than it might have. (Hat tip to Rare, where I first saw this one.) The 38 year old retired Army lieutenant was crossing the store parking lot when he spotted trouble on the horizon.

Lawler, a former school vice principal who still works as a firearms instructor in addition to substitute teaching, said he and his girlfriend had gone to the Pathmark about 5:30 p.m. As they were walking in the parking lot, he spotted the other man – identified by police sources as Dondi DeCosta, 37, who lives near the store – standing with his SUV door open.

“He looked odd from the beginning,” Lawler said of DeCosta.

Lawler, who retired from the Army as a lieutenant after serving more than a decade, continued to walk with his girlfriend. DeCosta brandished the knife and started mumbling and cursing at them, Lawler said.

In retrospect, it will be noted that DeCosta made a rookie move here. Lawler moved his girlfriend out of the line of attack and immediately – and in full view of DeCosta – broke out his 9 mm Glock and informed the knife wielding assailant that he was going to have a very bad day unless he backed off immediately.

You know… you’d think that would do it for most folks.

Not this time: DeCosta instead moved toward the pair, Lawler said, threatening, “I’ll cut you up.” When he got within 5 or 6 feet, Lawler said, that was it. Lawler leveled the Glock and fired once, hitting DeCosta in the groin.

This was actually a lot more sportsmanlike than Lawler really needed to be. Issuing multiple verbal warnings and then restricting himself to only one round and not firing to kill (though DeCosta might wish he had later on) was a lot more than the attacker had any right to expect.

In another piece of positive news relating to this case, video of the entire episode was available from the store security cameras, verifying for police that Lawler gave the perpetrator every opportunity to back off before unloading. So DeCosta will be going to jail once he gets out of the hospital, and Lawler was not arrested or accused of any wrongdoing.

The only downside is that this is the exception to the general rule that an armed society is a polite society. Criminals generally will retreat in the face of an obviously superior amount of firepower. It’s very possible that DeCosta is either insane or was impaired beyond rational thought when he decided to press the attack. With a knife. Against a Glock.

That’s just really poor decision making right there. Here’s the video of the news coverage. It’s only a minute or so in length.