A Nurse with a Gun

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Divine Intervention Takes Out Scum Bag

On Tuesday night, seventy-nine year old Dwight Cook, of Hickory, North Carolina, and his missus were relaxing peacefully at home when they heard a rattle of the front door knob. Mr. Cook went to the door, but found nobody there. Then he heard a crash. Derek Scott Frenceschini had used a piece of cement block to smash the glass in Mr. Cook's other door. After he reached inside, a quick turn of the deadbolt let the 23 year old criminal in.

Mr. Cook's wife ran to the neighbor's home to get help, while Mr. Cook quickly located his .22 caliber handgun. While confronting Frenceschini, Mr. Cook thought he saw something in the criminal's hands. He fired one shot into the ceiling as a warning shot.

“I went to get my .22 caliber gun that I keep in the hallway. I had it in my hand, and I asked him what he was doing. He turned around, and I saw that he had something in his hand. I didn’t know what it was, so I fired a warning shot up into the ceiling,” Cook said.

That's when Divine Providence stepped in. A fragment of the single .22 caliber bullet ricocheted and struck the intruder in the forehead, knocking the fight out of him. Cook then held the intruder at gunpoint while he dialed 911 for assistance. “I wasn’t aiming for him. I’ve handled guns since I was 12, and was a sharpshooter in the Army. If I wanted to hit him, I would have. If he’d moved, the next shot would have stopped him,” Cook said. “I stood to the side of him until the police got there.”

Frenceschini was subsequently arrested and charged with first degree burglary. He was hospitalized for the bullet fragment in his skull and a fractured hand he injured during the break-in, officials said. Mr. Cook was not arrested. As usual, the local constabulary advises against legitimate self defense.
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I rarely second guess a person after a self defense shooting, but this account is ripe for discussion. I cannot avoid it.

First, there is no duty to retreat in North Carolina if one is within their own home. There is no need to make excuses, or God forbid blast ceilings in North Carolina. There is, however, a need for law abiding citizens to effectively defend themselves and their homes against criminal attackers.

Mr. Cook's statement, "If I wanted to hit him, I would have. If he'd moved, the next shot would have stopped him," although well intentioned, speaks volumes of his ignorance. Hitting moving targets is very demanding shooting, especially when one's life is on the line. It's a hell of a lot more demanding than hitting the ceiling of the room you are in. Former Army sharpshooters may have a lot of experience shooting rifles at stationary bullseyes at the range. That does not equate to life saving marksmanship with a handgun. As far as I know, the US Army has no job description of "sharpshooter". This designation is likely a marksmanship ranking, between "marksman" and "expert", a common and non-distinquishing ranking attained by farm boys and city boys alike who never held a rifle prior to military service.

The belief that a .22 caliber handgun will "stop" anyone is an fallacious belief bordering on the belief in magic. If a .22 caliber slug should stop an advancing assailant, it is because he wanted to stop. Yes, the lowly 22 kills more people than any other round. This is not a credit to the round's effectiveness, but rather a bow to it's overriding prevalence compared to other calibers, especially among untrained shooters. Unless the 22 slug penetrates into the CNS, the criminal will simply bleed slowly while he decides whether to flee or snuff the life from the defender.

And now, tactics. Warning shots are never a good idea. First, they deplete life saving ammunition in a life threatening encounter. The bullet you shoot in the air may be the one you need to save your life.

Warning shots are often fired in the hope that the aggressor will retreat at the sight of the firearm, and the defender will not have to take a life. This is the "Magic Talisman Presumption" that one often hears parroted off by those new to firearms. The truth is, introduction of a firearm into a conflict will escalate the conflict if the protagonist is not willing to utilize the gun effectively.

By their very nature, warning shots are often not aimed fire. As unaimed gunfire, they inherently place others at risk. Truth be told, Mr. Cook could have been struck by a stray bullet fragment just as easily as Frenceschini. If the warning shot is aimed, then the shooter has taken his eyes off the aggressor, making himself vulnerable while trying to save the criminal's life.

If a person is justified in firing a warning shot, they are justified in shooting the threat. Shots fired into the ceiling are as much an application of lethal force as shots fired center of mass. They are just a warm fuzzy touchy feelie excuse for not believing one's life is worth defending. They are a last plea for the criminal to stop his activities.

Finally, as in this case, if the "warning shot" should somehow find it's target, the shooter is then wide open for a civil suit. The warning shot will be interpreted and presented as empirical evidence that lethal force was not yet necessary, yet the shooter negligently injured the poor tortured soul who just happened to find himself in the wrong house. Yes, the civil suits are coming........Frenceschini is in the hospital, alive, with medical bills mounting. Meanwhile, Mr. Cook is going on record saying he fired a warning shot, which through Providence probably saved his life. Of course, Frenceschini will say he never threatened the old man, and a lawyer sleazier than John Edwards will produce a plethora of character witnesses who will paint him as a recently misguided choir boy almost killed by the evil old man with a gun.

I wish Mr. Cook the best, but he needs to stop speaking. He may soon learn that a warning shot between the eyes is preferable to one in the ceiling, and a caliber that starts with a four is preferable to a .22. Good luck Mr. Cook. God saved your ass a few days back. Don't place it on a silver platter for the attorneys to devour.

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11 Comments:

Blogger SpeakerTweaker said...

Sir, I have been reading your blog for a couple of months now. You have a knack for doing quality journalism (an oxymoron, I know) concerning self-defense shooting, and I appreciate that.

I now value your opinion in the highest. I've already linked up on my blog. I'll now be linking to this post as soon as I'm done commenting.

Very well said, sir.

9:58 PM  
Anonymous clifford smith said...

Excelent comment on the evils of "warning shots".

7:49 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

Excellent analysis, Xavier.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Don Gwinn said...

All pretty true. I don't know if it's all that bleak, because people on juries are generally not going to have given warning shots the kind of thought you and I have. Most people think a warning shot is a perfectly reasonable and logical way to tell someone to leave if you don't want to shoot him.

Let's hope it works out. No matter what, he's put his life in others' hands to some extent, and that's not a good idea.

But shooting this kid between the eyes wouldn't protect him from a civil suit, either. And he did some things right, like having a firearm at all. Not everyone gets that far. It's because he was smart enough to do that much right that he's around to worry about civil suits.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Don Gwinn said...

All pretty true. I don't know if it's all that bleak, because people on juries are generally not going to have given warning shots the kind of thought you and I have. Most people think a warning shot is a perfectly reasonable and logical way to tell someone to leave if you don't want to shoot him.

Let's hope it works out. No matter what, he's put his life in others' hands to some extent, and that's not a good idea.

But shooting this kid between the eyes wouldn't protect him from a civil suit, either. And he did some things right, like having a firearm at all. Not everyone gets that far. It's because he was smart enough to do that much right that he's around to worry about civil suits

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

In a lot of jurisdictions a warning shot is considered a crime. The thinking is that if you were not shooting to kill, then you were not in fear of your life. Therefor, the shot(s) can be considered a civil or criminal discharge of a gun, possibly even assault. Shooting to wound, instead of kill(arm,leg, etc..), will definitely be considered assault with a deadly weapon.
Don't even think of doing a Lone Ranger "shoot the weapon from their hand" bit of foolishness.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sharpshooter is a given title, and is an alternative to sniper on occasion. Not an actual job. You got it right. ALthough, a city-boy who'se never held a gun before wouldn't be able to get it.

2:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding your opinion on .22 caliber weapons for self defense. Read this article:

http://www.firearmstactical.com/pdf/fbi-hwfe.pdf

There is no effective measure to judge the performance of any caliber with regard to penetration, "stopping power," or lethal potential.

Don't underestimate the abilities of the "lowly" .22 caliber just because of it's size or potency.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Stacey said...

Regarding your opinion on .22 caliber weapons for self defense. Read this article:

http://www.firearmstactical.com/pdf/fbi-hwfe.pdf


So that's why the FBI carries Ruger MKIIs?

No......Waita minnute. They DON'T!

4:05 PM  
Blogger Ahab said...

With regards to the lowly .22; I've seen it often carried by senior citizens (such as the gentlemen in question) who wish to have a firearm for their protection but due to their advanced age and health condition simply cannot deal with the recoil and weight associated with a larger caliber.

While it's not the best, it certainly beats a pointy stick.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Monica Ricci said...

An interesting article to be sure. I hope the old guy gets off the hook post haste. Young thugs who take advantage of the old are the worst kind.
~Monica

9:09 PM  

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