A real life encounter with the people of Wal-Mart.
I live in Eagle River, but we were down in Anchorage on a date away from the kids. Before we went home we needed to stop at Wal-mart for a few things so we went to the Debarr Wal-mart. We had made it to the check out line and the clerk just started ringing things up when there was some kind of commotion happening at the other end of the store, maybe 50 feet away. At first I thought there was a spill or maybe someone's dog had gotten out of hand or something. Suddenly every male employee ran, and I mean RAN toward the noise with a handful of patrons in tow. By this time, I knew this was more than just a simple mishap. About that time I saw a man (about 6', 260-280) walking with a friend (smaller, but in shape) briskly toward my wife and I. He was wearing a florescent yellow shirt covered in blood coming from his mouth. About the time they made it to our area another man (aroudn 6'-2", 300+) and his friend (also smaller, but in shape) rounded the far aisles and came after the first two. The big guy's shirt was nearly ripped off him. The bloodied man turned down our checkout aisle and as he walked past and back into the store, he grabbed a discarded frying pan off the shelf. I wasn't about to stop the dude because to be honest, I didn't want some strange for all I know drug addicts blood all over me. I did my best to shield my wife and not touch him.
By this point, it was pretty obvious what was happening. Over the course of the next 5-10 minutes or so, all the male employees and a few customers who had been present at the start attempted to dispel the fight, but basically it was just these 4 guys running around the store trying to avoid/beat each other up. Red mist was definitely present. It's amazing to me how obsessed people get with their target went rage sets in. The didn't care who else was around or who got in their way. One patron tried to deflect the bigger guy and his sidekick and almost ended up eating fists. Eventually the bigger guy and his friend walked out the front door, yelling something about waiting out side for you, and right into the hands of the police who had finally just shown up. I'd guess we're talking around a 6-8 min response time maybe. Felt like 10.
At no point was I really worried about any kind of immediate danger to myself or my wife, but I was really on edge. I didn't feel the need to defend my life, but you're darn right I would have. I was armed of course. In fact, I was carrying openly. My mind immediately went to situational awareness. Where were these guys in the store? Trying to maintain my physical presence between them and my wife. Keeping my body between then and my gun. Making sure that at no point did they see me as a potential source of a weapon to use in the fight. I didn't feel the need to intervene because that would have made a bad situation worse, but I also wanted to be sure they didn't see my gun as their salvation against the other side. At no point did they even notice. In fact, the lady checking us didn't even notice until it was over. This was a case where being a witness was the right choice. I knew when the one guy grabbed a frying pan that no real weapons were involved or they would have been in play long before.
The surreal thing honestly was how most of the store just went about their business checking out. Seems like the manager should have at least made an announcement to clear the area. A couple mom's sent their kids to the bathroom to hide. Which was probably smart given what happened and that it wasn't an active shooter type thing. Bathroom seems like a really bad place to hide if there was an active shooter.
A real life encounter with the people of Wal-Mart.
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While I have the luxury of hindsight and much longer to review what happened than you did, I'd have just walked out once they went past me, something like could have gone sideways at the drop of the hat, best just to not be there.
Freedom is a bit like sex, when your getting it you take it for granted, when you're not you want it bad, other people get mad at you for having it and others want to take it away from you so only they have it.
That said, we were talking the whole time and saying if this turns to weapons we're out.
My oldest works at a different chain closer to us. After we left, my wife told me we were going to he store (she was working at the time) and checking in on her. My wife told her in no uncertain terms if that happened at her store she was to run. Didn't matter what the company told her to do. She was to run.
Reminds me of time we were at dinner in a nice restaurant w in-laws visiting - no skillet fights - but the grill had a grease fire flare-up that stopped in 20 seconds, rolling a little smoke cloud across restaurant ceiling. FIL said in a calm voice - 'everyone get up, we are all going to quietly walk out the front door.' Waiter and manager were telling all patrons to stay - almost but one other table stayed; FIL said from his experience you wouldn't know if there was a fire in drop ceiling, etc sure as heck wasn't going to hang around and find out. Firetrucks came in about 10 minutes, shutting down restaurant that night.
In restaurants I always look for fire exits, and now add to the list active shooter defense/withdrawal routes.
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“Men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them"
-Thomas Hobbes 1651