20-years ago Juan Luna and Jim Degorski entered a Brown's Chicken restaurant in Palatine Illinois. What began as an armed robbery a little after 9 p.m., closing time, on Jan. 8, 1993, ended with the murder of owners Lynn and Richard Ehlenfeldt and their 5 employees.
Authorities say it took less than 45 minutes for Degorski and Luna to commit the crime. Evidence showed the killers fired 21 bullets from a .38 caliber handgun, which required them to reload three times, police said.
Would you have attempted to fight back, tried to escape, or just did what you were told and hope you would survive?
There is no single best way to respond to a dangerous situation such as this, but considering the alternative, you need to think about what action you would be willing and able to take.
1. If you are a gun owner, who lives in a state that allows open or concealed carry, and you were armed, you could take cover and use it to defend yourself. Having a gun with you isn't going to guarantee your survival. Even well trained gun owners can freeze in these types of situations.
2. What if you aren't carrying a gun? When entering a restaurant, theater, or store take a minute to locate a second exit, and be ready to use it in case of trouble. Locating the exit is one thing getting to it safely is another. You may have to run while in a low crouch or crawl to reduce your odds of being hit. Luna claimed that one employee tried to escape by jumping over the counter and was wounded by Degorski.
3. Find something to use as a weapon. Luna described how one employee attempted to get past him and how he blocked him until Degorski came up behind him and hit him in the head with the gun. If only the employee had grabbed a chair, or something with a sharp edge to use as a weapon, Luna might have retreated.
4. Escape out a window even if it means running through it. During the Luby's Cafeteria Shootings in Killeen Texas one patron, Tommy Vaughn, threw himself through a plate-glass window, sustaining injuries, but by doing so he created an escape route for himself and other customers.
5. Never go to a second location, even if it is in the same building. Your chances of survival decrease when you are out of sight of the public. Degorski put the remaining employees in a walk-in freezer before he shot them. In the Lane Bryant murders the gunman herded the victims into a back room where they couldn't be seen.
Personal and situational awareness is the key to your safety. Pay attention to who and what is nearby, and be prepared to take action to either fight or take flight.
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