Doc Fights Back

Editor’s Note: Combat Handguns pays $100 for each “It Happened…

Editor’s Note: Combat Handguns pays $100 for each “It Happened To Me!” letter that we print. Send yours to Combat Handguns, 1115 Broadway, New York, NY 10010. Attention: “It Happened To Me!” or e-mail to linas@harris-pub.com

I am a physician, specializing in pain management. Mind you, I don’t run a “pill mill” catering to drug addicts, I am double board-certified and on the faculty of two medical schools. A man came to see me who was suffering from blatant drug and alcohol addiction, in addition to being mentally unbalanced. I politely told him that I don’t run that sort of practice and would not prescribe any drugs for him. He became angry, but left without further incident.

About three weeks later, I received a “manifesto” in the mail from this person, telling me that I ruined his life and accusing me of all sorts of malfeasance. He was obviously crazy, but I thought nothing of it and tossed it in the trash. Little did I know, this man began cyberstalking me, posting all sorts of lies and nonsense on the Internet.

Seven months later, I was seeing an elderly patient in consultation in my office. It was about 4 p.m. and the day was winding down. I suddenly heard a disturbance at the receptionist’s window and went to investigate. It was the same guy. He was angry and confrontational. He immediately thrust a letter at me through the receptionist’s window, stating that he was at his “breaking point.” I ordered him to leave and he refused. I promptly picked up the phone and dialed 911, advising them that there was an individual creating a disturbance in my office who was refusing to leave. They said they would send officers right over. As I hung up the phone, I felt chills run down my spine when the intruder said, “How long do you think it will take them to get here?”

When I began practicing 15 years ago, I anticipated this day. The door between the clinical area and the waiting room has a lock on it that requires the receptionist to hit a button to release or for the door to be opened manually. He couldn’t get back to us, so we would just wait for the police to show up. I then realized that a young woman was sitting in the waiting room. She didn’t have the good sense to get up and leave after witnessing the above and I was concerned that he would harm her. I opened the locked door and went out to the waiting room. I wanted to soothingly talk to him and try to de-escalate the situation, allowing the police more time to arrive. The man was sitting in a chair and I strode across the room to speak with him. I told him that this accomplished nothing and that perhaps we could sit down and discuss it. Without saying a word, he leapt to his feet, tore my shirt from my neck to my waist, scratching my side. He then got in a batter’s stance and swung his cane directly at my skull.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of assuming this lunatic would behave like a rational human being. I let my guard down and now I had a metal cane bearing down on my skull. My right hand shot out across my body and caught the cane with a “thwap,” a few inches from my head. At the instant I caught the cane, my assailant jerked it suddenly and violently, like one might during a tug-of-war. There was a sickening sound and sensation. I felt my right shoulder give way with a pop and a crunching sound, as though a drumstick was being twisted off a turkey. My right arm dropped uselessly by my side. Now I was really in trouble, injured and in the room with a madman with a weapon.

I had a choice. I could risk further injury and engage him or I could be smart and retreat. Retreat, that is, to my desk where my 9mm pistol lay in the top drawer, loaded with hollow-points. I dashed into the room, grabbed my weapon, and chambered a round with enormous difficulty, given that I had very limited use of my right arm and was in a great deal of pain. Meanwhile, my receptionist made another 911 call, informing the dispatcher that I had been seriously injured and had armed myself with a pistol.

I returned to the waiting room and stood in the doorway. My assailant was across the room, standing near the exit. Since I’m right-handed, I was holding the gun in my right hand and my right wrist in my left hand to allow me to aim the weapon, since I could not move my right arm. The gun was pointed at the ceiling, since this was a more comfortable position to hold it, given the pain in my right shoulder. I announced in a loud voice, so all six witnesses could hear, “I will use all necessary force to protect myself.” So what does this nutjob do? He then yells, “I have a gun, too!”

I was prepared to pull the trigger at that point, but I really didn’t want to. I imagined the liberal media frenzy and the blaring headlines: “MD Slays Man in Waiting Room,” mentioning nothing about his unprovoked attack with a deadly weapon and my resulting crippling injury. If he had even moved a whisker, hands toward his pockets or out of my sightline, I would have put two rounds into his center of mass. Fortunately for him, he chose to turn around and run. We then locked the door. I walked back into my office and removed the magazine and pulled back the slide, removing a round from the chamber, and placed the gun on my desk. The last thing I wanted to do was startle an already nervous cop.

A few minutes later, five policemen came charging in. They were quite surprised that I had not fired my weapon, as was I. As I was sitting at my desk, clutching my injured shoulder, one of the officers asked to see my concealed weapon license. I informed the officer that I did have a license but advised the officer that I did not require a permit to possess a firearm in my own place of business. He seemed a little taken back by my response, and then asked me to please show it to him, otherwise his sergeant would give him a hard time later on. I pulled out my license, he recorded the license number and serial number on my gun, then asked me for a written statement.

My worst fears were confirmed when I went for an MRI and found that my rotator cuff had been ruptured. Two orthopedic surgeons took two hours to do the repair. I ended up in a sling for six weeks and had to endure grueling physical therapy. Here I am seven months later and I still have pain every day of my life.

The liberal media had a field day. I was on the front page of two local newspapers and one of the lead stories on the evening news. Even though a police spokesman said that I had done nothing wrong, the media gave the impression that I had. The perpetrator has been charged with a first-degree felony and is facing 5 to 30 years in prison. Has he spent a single day in jail? Of course not; he has the right to due process. As my case is working its way through the system, I already see that there will be no justice. I used to be athletic and physically active, and now I have a right shoulder that doesn’t function properly and causes me pain every day of my life.

Numerous people have asked me was it really necessary to take out my gun? I ask them if it would have been more appropriate to wait until he bashed my skull in, and then they are silent. It took my local police fourteen minutes to respond from the time that the first 911 call was placed, a reasonable response time according to the police department. If I had not had my handgun with me, there is a good chance that I would not be here today, or if I were, I would be eating all of my dinner through a straw.

The police and state attorney’s office considered the perpetrator quite dangerous because of the nature of his crime and advised me to remain vigilant and to call the police immediately if I saw him. Somehow, this did not make me feel secure. I saw fit to purchase a new Kel-Tec .380ACP for maximum concealed carry and keep a G36 with me when I am physically able. If it weren’t for the concealed carry law in Florida, I would be a sitting duck, looking over my shoulder wherever I went.
—DMG, FL

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  • Sam

    The physicians office is a dangerous place. Look at the irate town hall meetings. Anyone who acts like that can channel displaced negative energy toward the doctor and/or his staff. Thank god I live in Floridan not California. As a physician I am also worried about the implication of shooting a patient. In that potential scenario, the need to use a handgun must be as clean and defensible as possible.