Thursday, November 22, 2012

Chicago Crime: Man murdered while trying to help woman


Following an incident earlier this week in downtown Chicago, I had been writing a piece about intervening in ongoing crimes. For those who did not hear about the attack, an older man was stabbed and beaten during an attempted robbery in a restaurant bathroom. A citizen who tried to intervene outside was also slashed. The assailant fled but was apprehended shortly thereafter. Thankfully, both victims survived. What separated this attack from the dozen or so other shootings that happened over the weekend? The attack happened in the Westin Hotel, specifically in The Grill on the Alley restaurant, which are about the poshest two places that an attack has happened in Chicago since Al Capone's era.
A great place for drinks, dinner, dessert, and ARMED ROBBERY
As is the Chicago custom, big downtown incidents draw big press coverage. The brave bartender got a much deserved write up in the local papers. Although he did not stop the suspect, his courage was uncommon and exemplary.

Unfortunately, an eerily similar incident later in the week showed the dangers of crime intervention. On the night of November 21, a distressed woman knocked on the door of 55 year old William Terry of Chicago's Rosemoor neighborhood. She was seeking refuge from her husband in the aftermath of a violent argument. The woman's husband saw Mr. Terry's actions and went home, returning to Mr. Terry's residence with two knives. He and Mr. Terry argued, culminating in the man stabbing Mr. Terry repeatedly. The 55 year old Good Samaritan died on the scene. The killer fled and as of 11/22 is not in custody.

As mentioned earlier, I have a longer piece in the works that gets into greater detail about the philosophy, dangers, and risks behind intervening in ongoing crimes. These two incidents serve as real world illustrations of what can happen to real world heroes. On a more technical level, they also show the unpredictability of dealing with knives. Sometimes a stab to the neck sends you to the hospital, and a poke to the arm sends you to the morgue.

Someone stop that clerk from robbing those two hooded men!
As a general rule, never intervene in an ongoing crime. It is almost always better to summon the police, stay back, and provide as much witness testimony as possible. This is especially true in regards to certain crimes. During a straight up fight, whether involving fists, knives, or guns, it is often unclear who the "bad guys" are. That knowledge alone does not mean you should intervene, but if you end up engaging, it at least gives you some valuable information.



The real criminal mastermind? That kid on the locker.

Other crimes, such as most fights, brawls, batteries, and especially domestic disputes, have unclear sides. You will never know who started the confrontation and who is only "defending themselves". Someone who started the fight may now be on the ground. Someone who was attacked might now be delivering a beating. The fight might even be mutually agreed upon, and your intrusion could cause both parties to ally against you. In all cases, intervention is just too risky.


Even with training, no engagement is certain. Your first course of action when you see a crime should always be to call the police. Even if you ultimately intervene, you need to make sure that law enforcement is on the way. Remember, the police have training, experience, and above all, legal protection in arresting suspects. Even the best martial artists lack that shield.

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