The Known Assailant


Known Assailant violence outnumbers Stranger violence, and we got a good reminder from Ohio recently. A young man decided that the best response to a breakup in 2019 would be leave a creepy voicemail, and then show up at his ex’s house the following day (which apparently happened to also be her parent’s house) and start banging on the door. The father of his ex girlfriend announced to James Douglas Rayl that he was armed, and that James needed to leave.

Knowing this was someone his daughter had dated, and once cared for, must have given him plenty of incentive to let the guy go, and usually “I have a gun, GTFO” is enough to dissuade. However, duly warned, Mr. Rayl decided that rather than leave, he would attempt to shoulder the door in. Given the terrible quality of modern construction materials, it was unfortunately quite soon that the door began to give way. Police reports indicate that the deadbolt was locked, but the doorjamb failed. The father, watching this happen, made the terrible but ultimately justified decision to fire 3 shots through the decorative door window, which would prove fatal to Rayl.

Besides the best possible advertisement for up-armoring your door frames, this is a lesson many of us need to take more seriously: Per FBI UCR statistics, you’re way more likely to shoot someone whose name you know (a known assailant), than you are a stranger. Does any of your training take this known assailant risk into account? Have you ever sat down and really considered who among your acquaintances you could, or couldn’t shoot? Who might be the most likely candidate to earn the title?

These aren’t fun or easy questions, but if you go by the numbers, it’s a lot better to have considered them now, than in the moment when your cousin’s high school friend shows up in your hallway with a bat because he heard said cousin talking about the pair of new SOLGW rifles you just bought. Being surprised by an assailant is always a poor way to start a lethal force encounter, but being surprised, and having you OODA loop blown apart because that assailant is someone you know or at least recognize. Now is the time to think about known assailant encounters, not in the moment when you’re scrambling to process the situation and react appropriately.

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