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THE VIEW FROM THE DOORWAY: BOTH SIDES, PART I — 14 Comments

  1. What seems obvious from the fatal case and Mas’ experiences is how essential it is to lock your doors at all times. In your own home, a deadbolt is essential. In a hotel room a personal door jam is essential.

    In nearly every case, the invasion will be unlawful. Even so, there will also be cases that are purely inadvertent or under warrant. A lock, bolt and door-jam will be extremely helpful in sorting out the invader’s motive. In the unlikely event of a no-knock warrant service such measures will buy the seconds needed to wake-up and start to come to grips with whether the invader is police or criminal.

  2. Back in the 80’s I was staying at a Holiday Inn right off the Newark, NJ, airport. Far from the best part of town… I’m lying in bed just about to go to sleep about midnight when I hear a key in the lock and the door starts to open. I yell, in a command voice, “Stop right there! Get out!” Luckily they heard and obeyed, and the door chain held…The front desk apologized, for some reason thought my room was unoccupied (different clerk than when I checked in).

    On two other occasions, I have opened doors to the room I was checked into and seen other people’s luggage in the room – they were not there in both cases. Again, clerks seem to get confused about what rooms are available.

    So this kind of thing happens to a lot more folks than some might realize. I haven’t had it happen in a few years, thank goodness. The idea of bringing a couple of door wedges with you is a good one. Also, in rooms with connecting doors, I always check the locks and then prop up the ironing board on that door. In rooms with closets right by the front door, I prop the closet door open to block the room’s door,

    • Tom,I remember Newark of the 1980s; what a toilet it was, especially around the airport. But I also remember seeing dozens of large backyard swimming pools from the air as I made my way to Atlanta via People Express (anyone else remember this airline, lol?) and my then 23 year old brain wondering WTH. That same trip, I also got bumped from a flight landing in Denver and ended up overnight all alone I a motel room some distance from the old Stapleton terminals. Even though I had only been reading Mas for a short time up til this point, it was enough to ramp my awareness of things related to security and the like considerably. I didn’t get a lot of sleep in Denver that night (they assigned me a room in a section of the building that was otherwise unoccupied as far as I could determine), and I had no weapon whatsoever other than my wits.

  3. The incidents described perfectly illustrate why our house doors are ALWAYS dead bolted. When traveling I always use a device that prevents the hotel door from opening – regardless of the “quality” of the door locks. I acquired a couple of them in the mid 1970s and keep one with my travel gear. You would literally have to break down the door to get into the room.

  4. A good lessons I see to take home here is to always secure you home. The primary lesson I see is to be aware of your surroundings and know where you are at especially if you are prepared to use deadly force. Its careless to not lock doors but its much more careless to not be 100 percent certain that your not walking into the wrong home. In her mind she was in her own apartment and she acted just like an off duty police officer would act. He responded to a home invader shouting commands and lost his life. Unfortunately in the eyes of civilians an armed person who happened to be a police officer had a lack of awareness and killed a careless civilian who forgot to lock his door.

  5. I rather expect the reaction of most (the unaware/clueless) folks in the situations Mas describes would be the deer in the headlights look and stunned inaction.

    I won’t comment upon how that might be interpreted in various circumstances.

  6. Before I retired, my work required me to travel on occasion. I have spent many nights in various hotels all over the U.S.A. Nothing like the total that Mas must have racked up in his work, of course, but a fair amount.

    While I have had some trouble with the occasional hotel-billing problem, I never suffered the “double-booked room” problem. However, a colleague of my did some years ago. Not only did a hotel clerk, on a new shift, try to hand his room to some other customers, but, when the new customers tried to enter the room and found him there, they complained back to this new clerk. This clerk believed his computer more than my colleague and actually thought that my colleague was some sort of “squatter” who was in the room illegally. The hotel clerk tried calling the police to have him tossed out of his own room! It was a nasty mix-up. My colleague straightened it out in the end but it cost him hours of his time and he did not get much sleep that night!

    I never did carry any additional locking devices for the hotel door. However, I always made sure to use whatever locks and chains that were available. I also acquired a small, motion-detector / alarm unit. I could set this up a few feet away with it pointed in the direction of the hotel door. That way, even if someone could unlock the door, they would set the alarm off as soon as they opened it and stepped into the room. This would give me a few seconds warning and, who knows, might scare off the intruder. Although this pocket alarm was small, when it went off, it was loud enough to “wake the dead”.

  7. Thanks Massod Ayoob, Your excellent writing on your experiences are very informative. My husband and I, fortunately, only had one problem when someone tried to unlock our hotel room door. Fortunately, the key did not unlock the door.
    Thank you

  8. I noticed how Mas was armed, but it was his voice commands which diffused the situation.

    I think it is possible to prop a chair under a door handle. If the chair is the right size, the door would remain closed even if the intruder had a key.

    All seriousness aside, I remember Mas winces at the command, “Aim at the center of mass.” I suppose someone named William would cringe if he heard the command, “Fire at will.”

  9. I was given a heads up by our mutual friend, the late Jim R. about your encounter at a certain no tell motel out in the middle of nowhere in northern Indiana. I was just in the shower after a day at the range with Ken Tapp, when some body opened the door. Do not what scared them more , the naked guy or a chrome Hi-Power.

  10. I stay in hotels occasionally. Although I keep a .45 on the nightstand, I think I’ll review my safety procedures a bit.
    Thanks Mr Mas.

  11. The situation has been immortalized in pop music. See Silhouettes on the Shade by The Four Seasons, Herman’s Hermits and various do-wop groups. Probably bad tactics on the back end but the front end is believable.

  12. The guy was in his own apartment minding his own business. No warrants, no complaints, no “suspicious noises” or “hot pursuit” have been claimed, so far as I’ve seen.

    The fact that the shooter was a cop isn’t relevant. She wasn’t on duty or acting in any capacity that could be construed as “law enforcement.” I don’t see that any of the protections that apply to a police officer have any bearing here.

    She simply entered an apartment she had no business in and killed its lawful occupant.

    It might have all been a horrible mistake, but it looks pretty cut and dried so far.