Safe and sound at my destination, thanks to training.

by John Boch

It was just a day of driving on my honeymoon.

GSL’s first lady Wendy and I were down to a quarter tank of gas and took an exit in Montgomery, AL.

By sheer happenstance, we picked a Raceway station.  The neighborhood didn’t look the best, but at the same time it wasn’t East St. Louis, either.

As we rolled to a stop at the end pump, I took off my shades and commented to my new bride that the gentleman standing out front of the business in a white polo shirt looked like trouble.

He was standing there without a sense of purpose, just looking around with his hands inside the waistband of his black athletic pants.  He was wearing a white logowear shirt and I thought the logo might have been that of Raceway and chalked him up to an employee on break, perhaps having just finished a cigarette.

I started pumping gas and noticed Mr. Raceway ambling towards me.  He was looking right at me, too.

“Can I help you?” I asked him as he was about thirty feet away.  Something felt very wrong when he didn’t reply.  I looked closer and noticed the logo wasn’t “Raceway” but “Budweiser”.  This guy had the physique of a football player: about 6’ 2” and 220 pounds and maybe 40 years old.

I leaned over towards the cracked rear window and told Wendy to lock the doors.  I spoke loudly and clearly and didn’t give a damn if he heard me or was offended.

“Clack.”  Wendy locked the electronic locks.

In my mind, I was thinking “don’t let him get close”.  I had just finished watching a series of force-on-force training videos that re-iterated that you shouldn’t let a potential bad guy get close.  More  importantly, the videos showed how badly things can go in a blink of the eye if they do get in close.

Also worth considering is the Tueller Drill issue where an aggressor can cover 21 feet in a second or so – faster than you can draw and make good hits.

The man was easily at that 21 feet when I spoke again.  “Sir, STAY BACK!”  He still had his hands inside his waistband and I didn’t like that one bit either.

Mr. Raceway hesitated, basically throwing his stride off momentarily, but he then continued approaching, eyes locked on me without saying a word.  He was very close now, maybe 15 feet at this point.

Not wanting to surrender the vehicle with my new bride to this guy, I stepped behind the best cover available, one of those 6” cement encased poles around the pumps and cleared my cover garment, and put my hand on my Glock 17.

I glanced both ways to see if he had a friend closing on my flank and then turned my attention back to Mr. Raceway.

“I SAID STAY BACK!” I shouted and this time it came with the not-so-subtle, non-verbal “or else” of my readiness to draw.

Suddenly, Mr. Raceway, who hadn’t said a word abruptly stopped his advance about 12-15 feet away.  He pulled his hands out and held them out at his sides.

“Hey man,” he said.  He was still sizing me up though – moving laterally now.

“GO AWAY NOW!” I told him.

“Hey man, you don’t have to shoot me,” he said, almost tauntingly.

I didn’t reply and took my hand off the gun’s grip only after he turned around and walked about halfway back to the station.  In the end, he went to the back corner of the station and chatted with another guy who looked to be homeless.

Given this fellow’s concealment of his hands, his unresponsiveness to my “Can I help you?” query, and his body language led me to believe he wasn’t about to panhandle me for “spare change”.  Instead, I think he was going to pull some sort of robbery of the out-of-state white guy, who was driving a brand new SUV and out-of-place at this gas station.

When I went to find a photo of the station on the Internet, I discovered the station had a very infamous reputation, thanks to a video at the “World Star Hip Hop” website of a dozen or more provocatively-clad black females fighting it out late one night at the same location.

In short, this armed citizen incident was like thousands of others across America each day.  Nobody got shot, the police didn’t get called, nobody got victimized and crime was thwarted.

What was I carrying?  A Glock 17 in a Kytac Braveheart holster (which broke later in the trip), with two spare mags and a Kel-Tec P3AT as a backup.

Guns Save Life’s first lady was without anything immediately accessible. Without a carry license, she wasn’t carrying.  We’ll be working to remedy that by getting her a Florida permit in the coming weeks.

…So, I googled the gas station for a photo of the place and discovered it's got a rather interesting pedigree.



Video is NSFW, but good for plenty of chuckles at home.


I was parked right where that Blue Toyota was in this video, in the same orientation as well.  Wow.  I had no idea I was at such a (in)famous place.

Folks, it's in a part of town that typifies urban decay.  I'd highly recommend you drive on past Montgomery, AL in your travels.

Mr. Raceway might be watching for you if you don't.

21 thoughts on “First-person Armed Citizen: Raceway gas in Montgomery, AL”
  1. If is always better to avoid a deadly force encounter. John, you teach this in every GSL class. You preach what you practice. Thanks for the excellent training.

    Congrats to you and Wendy!

  2. There you go again, John. Always providing Wendy with surprising, unforgettable memories!

    Congratulations to you two. We wish you many, many happy years together!


  3. Wendy has her own backup in the car, does she not? What are you training her to do in such a confrontation? Is she scanning behind the car? That’s typical black pack behavior–you always gotta look behind you. Glad you didn’t have to shoot!

  4. Way to go John, text book response and excellent balance of discretion vs. proactive defensive tone and stance. Interesting that he didn’t say anything, typically these days they’ll say something to get your guard down like, “Do you have the time?” Something innocuous like that. As if he didn’t know that he was acting in a threatening manner. *eye roll* Glad things didn’t escalate any further! Conceal carry can’t come any quicker to Illinois!! So glad it’s finally passed.

  5. Well done, Mr. Boch. I am highly gratified that you were not forced by his aggression to shoot this man. We have it on good authority he was just now, finally, coming to terms with his dependency, had returned to Church, and was getting his life turned around….

  6. Next time, turn the gas hose on him, and have a lighter handy, He will be sputtering and gasping just from the gas alone right in the face!

    Saw that done to a local town bully one time.

    Old man at the pump had enough of the local bully, when the bully came near him to bully the old man, the old man calmly turned the hose on him, soaked the bully, and then pulled his lighter out. The bully peed himself in fright at the old man as there was no doubt the old man was ready to turn him into a roman candle, lol!

    Did I mention the old man was a former Korean War POW, lol! He didnt put up with any BS, LOL! I really liked that old man!

  7. Congratulations! I assume you followed my example and married better than Wendy did. In order to avoid Montgomery on your way home I suggest going through either Anniston, AL and visiting the Civilian Marksmanship Program showroom (ask for Keegan to be your guide)or taking I-55 through Memphis, TN. If you do the latter, my wife and I would love to take the two of you to supper. The one thing Memphis does really well is supper. By the way, “Can I help you?” is a wonderfully useful expression when confronting trouble or being confronted by a cop.

  8. the gentleman standing out front looked like trouble. …” … Hahaha…

    Anyone who says this is clearly IGNORANT; a DH. SORRY!! I hear it, read it daily in situations like this – and want to vomit. Even ZIMMERMAN used that phrase thorughout…
    Do u know how IGNORANT & VOID it makes u sound to refer to a thug as “the gentleman”. DO U EVEN ‘KNOW’ WHAT A GENTLEMAN IS??!! Call him “the suspect”, “the male”, “that one” … LETs CEASE with PC ANACHRONISMS, CANT WE! LEARN HOW TO SOUND SMARTER!!

    1. Ok? So John is ignorant for using the word “gentleman”; but showed the exact opposite (Professional Intelligence) by dealing with a potential violent encounter without a shot being fired due to his situational awareness, training, confidence, and knowledge?? Not following ya here bub.

      Showing class and respect to every individual regardless of their criminal affiliations shows that we are the better person.

      Professionals in their craft use class, respect, honor, and discipline regardless of the situation. John did exactly that in his situation as well as the wording in writing this article.

    2. I, too, find subtlety and tact more persuasive and less likely to support the negative assumptions held by those who need to be persuaded.
      Bravo, John.
      The best teachers are those who serve as personal examples. Thank you!

  9. I know John personally, and he’s far, far from ignorant. But even a complete stranger could read his posting, and then your response, and readily pick sides.

    Thanks for sharing, John. Glad it worked out and that you didn’t end up as another dead cracker, or even as a blurb in the Armed Citizen. Avoidance and deescalation is ALWAYS the best option!

  10. John – your first “challenge” engaged him – you asked him a question.

    We have to remember that we’re not interested in anything they want or have to say. “I’m sorry, sir, I can’t help you”, is, as you know, what we teach.

    Other than that, good job stopping it before it got started. You had victory!

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