Using force to protect third-parties poses all manner of dangers to a good guy with a gun.  Sometimes though, it’s clear to even most low-information types that force is justified against an attacker of a third party.

That’s exactly what happened outside a Largo, Florida Publix supermarket. A man stomped his pregnant girlfriend’s head and upper body after punching her in the face repeatedly.

A good guy with a gun and a concealed carry license saw the attack in progress and intervened. Cops say when the boyfriend figured out he was about to meet his maker to answer for his sins, he behaved in a more civilized manner until police arrived and applied a complimentary set of bracelets to the baby daddy.

From the Miami Herald . . .

A bystander drew his gun on a man accused of beating and stomping on his pregnant girlfriend outside a Publix super market, ending the “brutal” attack, Florida deputies say.

The incident occurred around 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, in the parking lot of the Largo grocery store, according to an arrest affidavit. The woman told Pinellas County deputies that her boyfriend, Cole Danisment, 27, got angry and punched her in the face repeatedly.

She fell to the ground, and Danisment is then accused of stomping on her head and upper body.

The woman told deputies that Danisment knew she was 14 weeks pregnant with his unborn child. A man who witnessed the attack said he feared for the woman’s life, prompting him to intervene.

Danisment didn’t stop brutalizing the woman until the witness pulled a gun on him, according to the affidavit.

The suspect, Cole Danisment.  Nice tat, dude.  

This story brings back memories of a domestic attack I witnessed almost thirty years ago.  Wow, I’m getting old.

Back in the mid-1990s I worked at an office that overlooked the parking lot for a local park district headquarters. One evening around 6pm or so I saw a car pull into the lot in a rather reckless manner. The staff left at 5pm so the lot was almost completely empty.

A young woman in her late teens emerged from the passenger seat carrying a very young baby, maybe a month old. She looked scared from my vantage point, maybe 30 yards away. At first I thought maybe the baby wasn’t breathing or something.

Then from the driver’s seat emerged a big guy. He looked really angry. His body language provided plenty of clues, even to a then-novice at analyzing such things like me. And then there was him screaming “I’m going to (effin’) kill you.” That was clue number two.

He stomped around the car as I was dialing 9-1-1. The dispatcher picked up just as the male half slugged her with a powerful roundhouse punch to the side of her head. He nearly knocked her down, but she shielded the baby and the car propped her up as her legs wobbled.

I was processing what’s happening, feeling my adrenaline dump as the dispatcher asked for the location of the emergency.

“Park District headquarters on Kenwood in Champaign. Violent domestic. Guy just slugged a woman holding a newborn baby. White male, big guy, 20s, driving the car in the lot.  Send police. Hurry. He’s still hitting her.”

I hung up and grabbed my new cell phone which was about the size (and weight) of a small brick and ran downstairs and out of the building.

No, I didn’t have a gun. I didn’t know a lick of Krav and I didn’t even know how to throw a proper punch. Heck, I didn’t have a blade or know how to use one defensively, let alone offensively. In short, I didn’t have a clue.

At the same time, I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t sit by and let this guy follow through on his threat and do nothing.

As I emerged from the office at a near run, I saw the guy continuing to pummel the crap out of the girl as she’s trying to hold onto and shield the baby at the same time. He then heard me shouting at him from the curb across the street.

I had called 911 again to give them an update. Standing about sixty feet away, across the street from me, he heard me giving the dispatcher his description and it didn’t take a degree in bartending to know the police were on the way…and I was the reporting party.

So imagine my surprise when he stopped beating the girl and came after me with rage in his eyes that I could easily see from from across the not-so-busy street. I was now the focus of the guy who apparently liked his woman like he liked his chicken — battered. He clearly intended to tune me up as well.

Fortunately I had good tennis shoes and the Nike Defense™ worked well enough for the next sixty seconds or so. Good thing big guys don’t run particularly fast.

Of course, as I was still carrying a two-pound phone, I relayed the newfound urgency of a rapid police response for my own personal self-interest. To which the dispatcher said, “they’re coming.” Then he asked me if the girl needs medical attention as I’m running for my life. Jesus H. Christ.

What I didn’t know was my boss also called 911. Finally, I heard sirens and the sounds of an engine or two straining sans sirens. My pursuer had ears too, and ceased his efforts to punish me — now a hundred-some yards or more south of our original location — and he began returning to his car. He got there in time for the boys in blue (well, brown and green at the time) to give him a proper greeting.

If it hadn’t been for my boss also witnessing the attack, the cops told me they might not have been able to arrest her attacker/boyfriend/baby daddy. After all, the girl said he never hit her. She swore up and down the marks and bruises on her face and body were from her falling down the stairs or something equally preposterous. And the cops knew that without her cooperation, the odds of a successful domestic violence charge and prosecution were slim to none.

But with two impartial witnesses with a clear view of what happened, that trumped the girl’s claim (and her attacker’s) that the baby daddy never touched her.

Seeing the story from Florida today, it’s good that things worked out well for the good guy Florida man. But if I’d had a gun back then and no other witnesses, it could have gone very badly for me if both the attacker and his victim both swore that I pulled a gun on him for no good reason.

That first-hand lesson in dealing with domestic disputes still lives with me to this day, obviously.

Be careful out there, folks. Thankfully there are many more cameras just about everywhere today. That can help if you act to the standard by which you will be judged. But coming to the defense of a third party, especially in a domestic violence situation, has the potential to become a real loser for the good guy.