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DEATH OF AN ARMED CITIZEN AND HERO: 10TH ANNIVERSARY — 25 Comments

  1. “This week IDPA is holding the S&W Indoor Nationals at S&W in Massachusetts. Mass isn’t known as a bastion of gun rights (although after listening to Weer’d on the Squirrel Report for a while I understand that it isn’t quite as awful as some of it’s neighbors), but getting there basically requires a plane ticket or traveling with a gun through states that I refuse to travel through all together, much less armed.”

  2. Certainly a very brave man. I noticed from the memorial that Mr. Wilson went back to his apartment to get his pistol. Too bad he did not have a rifle handy in his apartment, as things might have ended differently.

  3. There are many “what-ifs” to the Tyler situation. Armored assassins will always be around. What you do against them with what you have at hand is the question. Mark Alan Wilson was a man of courage and ability who probably had not been trained in coping with body armor. Mark would likely have made disabling hits outside the ballistic material if he had first been aware of the possible need. Confidence, stealth, accuracy, caliber, range, impact, firepower (including friends), and possibly penetration, are considerations. Smoother is faster, and practice makes perfect. You will succeed.

  4. 1) So, what is the best way to deal with an active shooter when armor is an unknown? Shoot for the crotch/pelvis or thigh?
    2) Does 7.62×25 actually offer enough penetration through armor to work?

  5. Just to confirm, Mas, fellow Texan Wilson was using a subcompact 1911? I remember seeing a photo of what I thought was a Commander…no big deal either way, but I was curious.

    Also, it might be noted that the killer met his demise from a shot fired by Jacks’ AR…again, from what I read, the bullet (probably a 55-grainer) split upon striking the killer’s truck and a fragment managed to hit him in the back of the head.

    As has already been noted, had the brave Wilson been able to respond with an AR of his own, he might still be with us. RIP!

  6. revjen, that round you mention is generally found in round nose full metal jacket configuration. It can pierce some armor, but not all of it. In the much more likely scenario of a non-armored assailant, it will create a narrow icepick like wound and keep on going, greatly endangering any unseen bystanders. I’d recommend regular self-defense hollow points, and pelvic or brain aim if center chest shots have failed or armor is visible.

  7. Mark Wilson was a hero. He placed himself in harms way in order to attempt to stop evil from harming people he may not have even known. He did so with what he had available, and did so probably knowing he was out-gunned. Isn’t that the definition of a hero? Knowing the risk, but going ahead anyway.
    The discussion of body armor and choice of calibers has been raised so, as I tend to do, I’ll give my two cents worth.
    With more and more incidents of bad guys wearing body armor, I have for some time now, dedicated the overwhelming majority of my range time to head shots (6″ round steel plates) at 7-15 yards with my everyday carry (.380 acp. Ruger LCP). I’ll not argue the merits of mouse gun vs. howitzer for concealed carry. I carried full size duty weapons for 8-16 hours a day, 5-7 days a week, for 34 years, along with radio, cuffs, baton, and extra ammo, around my waist. One of the sweet reliefs of retirement, has been lightening that load. After experimenting with several calibers and configurations in my transitioning to concealed carry only, with no departmental mandated requirements, has resulted in an affinity for the ultra compact/ ultra lightweight pistols. The ones that fit my taste and meet my requirements are the .380’s. If I lived in a more violence prone environment than my sparsely populated area, I might rethink my comfort vs. power ratio.
    Head shots tend to soften the argument against the less powerful cartridges. I have either been present when, or immediately after suspects, victims (or in some cases, officers) had been shot with every firearm/caliber imaginable. There is one constant; there is no hand held weapon (with the exception of a shotgun at close range) that I believe can be considered a 100% fight stopper with a body shot. On the other side of the coin, the overwhelming majority of head-shots I’ve encountered, no matter what the caliber, have been immediate fight stoppers. Not always resulting in death, but stopping the fight, which is, or should be, the goal.
    I am not trying to imply that all situations will allow for a head-shot as the best/or first response, but rather a response that has been practiced and some level of proficiency/expectation of success has been achieved.
    When I’m at home, I have a number of weapons to choose from, at quickly accessible locations. Not so when I’m out and about in public. Know your limitations and, to the best of your ability, adjust your response. Given the opportunity/accessibility, a long gun (shotgun, semi-auto rifle) is almost always a better choice than a handgun when you know you are in, or about to be in harms way. The handgun is insurance for the other 99.999999% of your life when carrying a more efficient weapon is not feasible. Be as proficient with whatever your choice of this limited weapon is, as you can achieve.
    Just my thoughts. I don’t presume to say it’s the best advice for anybody else.

  8. If I recall correctly, the shooter was “temporarily” stunned or knocked down and was thought to be out of commission. I know the newspapers (I lived near Tyler at the time) mentioned Wilson was not aware when the shooter went down that he was not incapacitated. A local instructor has mentioned this in the CHL class, citing this example, and given the admonishment to not disengage just because the perpetrator appears to be incapacitated. For what its worth, the same instructor advocated, as Mas mentioned, center of mass for a target with a vest could be upper chest or throat and pelvic region. They emphasized being careful of taking head shots that could be dangerous to bystanders. Fortunately, there are a lot of good people like Mr. Wilson and the LEO mentioned in the article who will do their best to protect others. We thank them.

  9. Not much more I can add to the honors for Mark Wilson, other than say:” Thank You and RIP”.

    He was indeed a hero – he rode to the sound of the guns in true Texas fashion. No one MADE him do it; he was driven only by his moral sense and civic duty.
    The Texas Legislature – by unanimous Joint Resolution of both houses, honored his memory and commended his courageous actions.

    I mention Mark Wilson in my Texas CHL classes as an example of a Good Guy, a real hero who saved lives but sadly did not win the fight. On the tactical side, I remind my students that if they whack an attacker with three center-mass hits with a .45 and the bad guy seems totally un affected – shift targets as he is likely armored.

  10. Bad guy had a flak jacket or two on. Not true resistant vest. Wilson left his second floor apartment overlooking the scene of the shooting where he had a Mauser rifle and a shotgun to confront shooter armed with a .45 acp Commander. He shot his weapon dry, ducked below rear fender to reload when he was killed (executed) by the sks- wielding perp. He did draw fire away from a wounded deputy lying on the sidewalk by the door to the courthouse. There were a lot of witnesses and perps demise was videoed by dashcam. The officer you mentioned who stopped the perpetrator was also a swat member of Tyler PD. You do good work Mas, I just bought your new book. Keep it up.

  11. Thanks, Dennis, for some very enlightening insights. For the past few years, I have studied everything Mas, Clint Smith and so many pioneers of self defense, armed in particular, have written about all aspects of concealed carry, the proper use of lethal force – and most important of all – the aftermath if you are forced to use it. I am so thankful Mas is able to teach so well via the printed page. Then, I discovered this site and have been able to read the gems of info that can only come through experience, from veterans like you. That has enabled me to obtain what I feel is a first class education in so many related, vital areas, precisely because guys like you have contributed their “two cents worth.”

    You have all helped make this armed citizen more proficient, disciplined, confident – and yes, safer.

    Thank you.

  12. Mr. Moore stepped up, and it cost him his life, but who knows how many he saved. Good on Tyler for recognizing him!

  13. Practicing at the range on head shots is one thing, an active gunfight on a two way range is quite another. I can knock down steel human shaped targets all day long using head shots. I can splatter gallon jugs of water at 75 yards with my S&W, frequently. But the steel targets and the water jugs aren’t shooting back.

    I’ve heard that if you shoot someone with a .380, and they find out about it, they will be REALLY pissed. I’ve also seen autopsy photographs and X-ray images of a dead body that was shot several times with a .40 (which did not penetrate worth a damn, certainly not deep enough to seriously annoy the meth fueled perp) and stayed in the fight until a LEO put an end to the gunfight with a .223 round.

    During the infamous North Hollywood bank robbery gone bad you can see the robbers reacting from being hit in the body armor with the cops 9mm pistol rounds. It takes them off their game, briefly. I’m thinking that rather than try for an unlikely head shot during a high stress situation, it might be better for multiple center mass hits in rapid succession with a round that has enough energy (more than a 9mm, or worse, a 9mm short, AKA .380). Reports from cops that have been shot in their body armor is that it hurts like hell. Three or four shots must hurt like every kind of hell there is, and would probably knock a person down and certainly distract them enough or cause them to lose their weapon long enough to get close enough to…well, you decide what to do if you are in that situation.

    All this presupposes the notion that you can shoot well in a high stress situation, and not just spray and pray. And who can practice high stress situations? There is a dash cam video somewhere that shows a highway patrol officer engaged in a gunfight with a shooter. They are separated by the width of a two lane highway. The cop is shooting some kind of high cap auto pistol. You can see his first five or six shots hit the highway in between him and his opponent, as if he were shooting a sub-machine gun. Spray and pray.

    I think is was Jeff Cooper that said, and I paraphrase, “One cool had with a Model 94 Winchester could have put a stop to that fight,” (the North Hollywood robbery). I’m sure Mr. Wilson if he had it to do over again, would have brought more firepower to the fight, but no one should second guess anyone who responds to danger by putting himself in harms way to defend others.
    Mr. Wilson was a hero that day. End of story.

  14. Michael JT, you are absolutely right. It is much easier to hit targets at the range. I assume from the tone of your post, you have experience in gun fights and know of the adrenaline rush, how someone’s mind will process the info it receives, know how every individual will react and what their response will be. It also seems that you are saying that what you practice at the range will not translate very well in a real life exchange. I’ll respond by sharing one of my experiences, not my first, not my last, but like many officers have, the one that still wakes me in the middle of the night some 40+ years later.
    My partner and I had responded to a domestic disturbance. It was an address in a government project we had responded to twice before that month. As we approached the front door, the common-law wife came out the door saying “the crazy m*****f***** has a gun”. Now, my partner and I, as I mentioned before, had answered two prior calls to this location, we had what we thought to be a good relationship with the common-law husband. We knew him by his first name. Heck, we thought he was the victim in this relationship. I will call him “Bob” for this post. We could see him sitting at the kitchen table, facing us, as we entered the doorway. As we approached to within 15ft., I asked “Bob, do you have a gun?” He responded by instantaneously bringing his hands up from his lap gripping a model 19 Smith and Wesson .357 pointing at my chest, and pulling the trigger. (this is where hours at the range took over) As I drew my 1911 Colt and was thumbing off the safety as I came up on target, I remember my mind screaming “why is his gun not going off!” as he pulled the trigger for the third time. I remember taking the very short slack out of the 1911’s trigger, seemingly in frame by frame slow-motion, and just as I knew that the sear was about to break, knowing without doubt, exactly what button on “Bob’s” shirt my first round would hit, suddenly my partner came lunging across my sight picture, grabbing “Bob’s” revolver, placing my sights squarely in the middle of his (my partner’s)back. My mind said “oh’ my God” and I jerked my weapon towards the ceiling, letting the pressure off the trigger and praying it didn’t discharge before I cleared my partner. My partner was able to wrestle the revolver out of “Bob’s” hands, and together we effected the arrest.

    Now, before everybody lights up their keyboard, I will confess our tactical approach, by today’s standards, sucked. In those days, police officers didn’t receive much tactical training in the academy, it was more of a learn as you go experience. That, with a little bit of “John Wayne syndrome” got a lot off young officers killed. But that’s for another discussion. My partner, ’til this day, doesn’t know why he went for the gun.

    My point is this; in this confrontation, I was already a dead man, but my range time translated to calm, deliberate, muscle, mind memory, that kept me from shooting my partner in the back. How calm and deliberate? From the beginning, when I asked if he had a gun, until he was disarmed, was 3 seconds. How do I know this? It was recorded on, what was then new technology, a Sony cassette recorder, the tape of which was analysed repeatedly by academy personnel and used for future training. By the way, “Bob” later told us that he intended for us to kill him, had purposely loaded the revolver with 3 live rounds and three empty chambers, aligned the cylinder so the first three trigger pulls would be on empty chambers, but the 3 live rounds would protect us from being accused of killing him unnecessarily.

    So, now if someone wants to share from personal experience, not from what they’ve read or heard, where range time didn’t translate to a deadly force encounter, please share it.

    I’ll save the story of when I almost lost a partner to a single no.6 shotgun pellet to the right lung (much smaller than a .380) for another time. Maybe the opportunity will present itself to tell when I saw an attacking suspect hit in the forehead at 15 ft. by a full throttle .357 mag, knocking him unconscious, but never penetrating the skull. I hope these discussions will be first hand accounts, not what someone has heard or read. No one can know how they will react in any situation until they, themselves, have been there. I’ve “heard” that Tiger Woods once missed a 10 ft. putt by 5 ft. I would never challenge him to a putting match.

  15. P.S.- I apologize for taking the bait and straying off subject, and reiterate my respect and admiration for Mark Wilson’s actions on that fateful day. My original post was not in anyway intended to question his actions, rather to address a subject raised by another. I thought that was clear in my first post, but evidently not to everyone. Again, my apologies.

  16. Thank you for sharing, I’ve never read about this honorable gentlemen.
    Mr. Wilson actions saved the citizens and ended the carnage, so unfortunate he was hit and gave his life for the courage and honor of saving his fellow man from death.
    A true American hero indeed and well deserving of the plaque the county placed in his honor.

  17. Dennis – I have re-read your posts here and fail to see how/why you felt you needed to apologize for anything you wrote. I don’t believe for one minute that Mark Wilson would have an issue with any of it. As usual, what you wrote would only educate and inform and in no way “questioned Mark Wilson’s actions” and was certainly clear to me!