When I lived on the West Coast, my usual routine was to get up bright and early in the mornings in the summer months, and I’d head to the local park that had a large fishpond. The largemouth bass and sunfish were plentiful and always biting first thing in the morning.

As a rule, I usually had the park all to myself. However, on this bright and beautiful summer morning, I noticed an older Chevy Blazer parked near the park’s restrooms. I observed two young men in their early 20s and two young girls, probably no more than 15 or 16 years old, sitting in this rig. As a former police officer, this situation struck me as a bit unusual so early in the morning, in this city park. My first impression was that the young girls were runaways; the vehicle had out-of-state license plates on it.

I unloaded my fishing gear and headed to my usual hot fishing spot. However, I kept a watchful eye on the early morning visitors. The entire group was very shabby, and it was obvious that they were living in the vehicle or had been on the road a long time. The young girls made several trips to the park’s restrooms, while the two young men kept checking me out.

One of the young men headed in my direction, towards my left, and when I turned towards him, he stopped and turned back towards the direction he came from. He did this several times, and I was on high alert. Several minutes had passed since this lone young man had attempted to approach me, when I was alerted that he had circled around (behind) me, and he was attempting to approach me from my right.

When this shabby-looking young man was within 25 feet of me, he knelt down, and it appeared to me that he was attempting to get something from one of his socks. I thought perhaps that he might have been reaching for a hidden knife. Without saying a word, I swept back my safari vest on my right side, where I had my Star Firestar 9mm stainless steel pistol in a hip holster, and feigned pulling up my cargo pants.

Obviously, the mere sight of my handgun on my hip was enough to make this lowlife remember he and his friends had business some place else. No threat of force was implied, and as far as anyone was concerned, I was merely hiking up my cargo pants and my legally concealed handgun was exposed for a second or two.

I have no idea what the intentions were of this one young man, but my instincts tell me he was up to no good. A senior citizen mobile home park is right across the street from this city park. And, usually about an hour after I would be fishing, some lone seniors would appear in the park for their morning walk around the pond. Had these young men stayed around the park, it’s possible they might have attacked one of these seniors. I’ll never know what was on the mind of that young man, but I believe he knew what was on my mind; I wasn’t about to become an easy target for him.

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