A shot to the face

The Case of a Knife Wielding Attacker and a .22 Beretta Bobcat

Bendigo Strange
December 27th, 2022
(Tuesday)
Mid Afternoon



The last time I had spoken with the Client was more than ten years ago. At that time she had been promoted to CEO of the steel manufacturing firm, after my work had uncovered the former CEO had “mishandled” not only company funds, but a couple of interns. Prior to my departure she had asked me for a recommendation on a “pocket pistol”. She had a Glock 17 or 19, and while she liked it fine, it was not functional to her needs. She had explained that most of her work required her to travel, mostly by car but about twice a month air transit was involved and she wanted something “smaller and easier to travel with”. During the course of our conversation she made a rather foreboding prediction without realizing it at the time.

Her concern mainly was walking either from her car into the hotel or from whatever steak restaurant was across the parking lot from the hotel. Simply stated she wanted to be able to stick her hand on a pistol in a jacket pocket as she walked. Having survived being stalked by a man she met from an on-line dating service, which had led to the Glock, she never felt comfortable unarmed and alone in the world. After weighing the pros and cons I showed up for our last meeting with my Beretta Bobcat chambered in .22LR “that is exactly what I want!” she explained, then added “my brother told me no .22s though.” Ignoring the comment for the most part I explained that unlike her Glock, a .22 pocket gun came with some hard and fast rules that had to be adhered to. Keep it clean. Wipe it and the magazines down so that they are free of lint and small debris. No dry firing. Only shoot CCI Stingers or Mini Mags. Nothing else. She then, in her text message to me last month reminded me of something else I had said. “Don’t fuck around about it. If someone tries to attack you, shoot them in the mouth.”

The simple fact was this was in essence the advice Lewis Seacamp, the man behind the once notoriously hard to come by Seacamp .32 pocket pistol had given when asked why it didn’t have any sights. “Sights? Stick it in their face and pull the trigger!” To which end, I did encourage her to look at the Beretta Tomcat in .32 ACP over the .22 Bobcat. People in the end make their own decisions and live by them.

Last year she had been on a business trip. The weather had been cold and dark as she walked back from a nearby restaurant to the hotel, the hour later than she would have liked, but a business meeting had gone well into the early evening, thus dinner ended up being right before closing time at the restaurant. As she crossed the two parking lots she noted to herself of the man’s presence as he dropped in behind her walking into the hotel lobby. Once inside she admitted that she for the most part mentally dismissed him “as safe” because he to had entered the hotel and was likely a guest just like her.

As she walked to the the first floor room, something she had not been happy about, she heard “something” behind her. Turning she saw the man roughly six feet behind her raising a hunting knife. She screamed, while at the same moment walking backward and shoving her hand into her coat pocket and drawing the Beretta Bobcat. She said all she really saw was his face, specifically his mouth and the advice from more than a decade earlier played out in the next half second. She fired once, sending a lone .22 Stinger into the attacker’s mouth. She then recounted that “After I shot the first time I thought he ducked when I fired and I was getting ready to shoot again, because I thought he was crouching down. It was then I realized he was laying on the floor.” Running to her room, she locked herself inside. After a few moments she called 911 only to learn that local law enforcement was already on the way.

The question of course is what befell her attacker. He was not killed by the shot, but only by a fraction of an inch. The bullet narrowly missed intersecting with the brain stem. Instead the little .22 hollow point diverged upward and into his brain that caused such extensive damage that he was left in a vegetative state, unlikely to ever recover again. She was not arrested, and the local chief of police insisted she be relocated to another hotel, and that she could do any follow up interviews via video conference back in her home state with her attorney. Her pistol was kept for evidentiary purposes.

I did ask her, what mistakes she felt like she made prior to the attempt on her life, and what mistakes she DID make after. Her self-critique leading up to the encounter would be what one would expect. Despite knowing he had walked in behind her, once he was inside she never looked behind her again. She also wondered whether or not he had targeted her earlier in the evening and waited for her to walk back from the restaurant. I felt, based on a lifetime of experience, that he most likely had.

As for her actions afterward. She noted that she immediately had tunnel vision, and said she had since worried over two things. One, that she never looked around to see if there was another attacker. Two, that she might have shot someone who could have run up to help her. Something, I think we should all make note of. Not simply from her position, but also should any of us ever encounter such a circumstance as a by stander to be ready to communicate with the victim from a distance, and perhaps even from behind cover, lest we catch a wayward round. She then added that after shooting him in the face, she ran down the hall, opened her door, shut the door, and locked herself in the bathroom. Her finger either caressing the trigger, or it resting inside the trigger guard, until she came to her senses at which point she snicked on the small safety, effectively putting the gun in Condition One (cocked and locked).

As to whether or not she bought another Beretta Bobcat? Quite simply she bought a Smith & Wesson 351 PD chambered in 22 Magnum. Not because it was a revolver, or that the 22 Magnum had more power and velocity in achieving superior terminal ballistics over the .22 LR, but because the gun shop where the Bobcat had been purchased originally did not have one in stock and she liked the 351 PD “well enough”.

There is a lesson to be learned there, one that would send the advertising department of any gun manufacturer into apoplectic shock.

The .22 has long been criticized as being woefully underpowered for personal defense, and while such criticism is understood, it can be misplaced. I possess around a dozen personal accounts of a .22 pistol being used successfully to stop an attack. In one very bizarre instance, I inadvertently met a taxi cab driver who used a .22 Magnum Hi Standard derringer back in the 90s to stop a car jacking/robbery. By happenstance two or three years later, after his release from prison I met the carjacker himself, who had been shot in the throat. One side a small circular scar on the other, a rosette of tissue damage from the bullet’s exit. Having the opportunity to talk at length with him was interesting to say the least.

In my years of studying, documenting and carrying the .22 pistol (saving my life on two occasions), the lethality of the cartridge rely on a few things to go right. Erratic travel once it enters the body, but also bullet deformation and/or expansion in the case of a hollow point. Yet there seems to be a third element in play. The little bullet must not leave the body, though I suspect this is more effect than cause. I have long contended that while it is a less than idea cartridge the biggest hesitation it has ever given me in it’s use would be a misfire. Though this issue is largely associated with bulk ammo I have never experience one with CCI’s Stingers or MiniMags. Nor have I ever experienced on in .22 Magnum. Your mileage may vary.

Perhaps what is to be examined from her experience, is that she is not a “gun person”, she doesn’t involve herself in the trappings of the tactical culture. Didn’t find the nearest Jiu Jitsu mat, nor does she have any interest in any of it. She owns two guns. The original Glock 9mm that is likely twenty years old, and the Smith & Wesson 351 PD that replaced her Beretta Bobcat. She goes to the range about four times a year. Because after all her job is to be the CEO of a corporation. Not a “warrior”.

When asked if she had any personal issues with shooting the attacker her response was something noteworthy in an age of self-incrimination, “The police officer showed me the knife he was carrying, and I think about that. I think about what would have happened to me had I not had a gun, had I not shot him. I don’t think about what he brought onto himself. Frankly, I’m glad, because that could have been any other woman walking down that hall to her own murder. Instead he got me.”

Despite the attack, the knife, the shot-heard-down-the-hallway, perhaps the one true thing that haunts her the most was the fact her hotel room had been on the first floor. Something she had objected to due to her personal security concerns regarding first floor windows. Yet, she confided had the room been on another floor she would have likely ended up alone on the elevator with her attacker.

The Sun Tsu quote “advantage and disadvantage are interdependent upon one another” coming to mind.

It is easy to dismiss her circumstance as a one-off in a world of besieged by product endorsed expertise and dogmatic adherents who have come to fetishize equipment. One, however would be hard pressed to say that Mordechai Rahamim got “lucky” in 1969 at Zurich International Airport.

The former Client bears a unique place in the world of personal defense against a sea of internet and social media influencing experts. Because unlike 95% of them, she has actually shot someone to defend herself, and did so with the smallest viable cartridge.

6 thoughts on “A shot to the face

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