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My wife and both daughters (9 and 13) went with me to pick up my tuxedo at 5:30 PM on a Wednesday evening for a formal dress Mardi Gras ball on that Saturday. On the way home we stopped at the local mall for my wife and I to get haircuts for the event. We stayed, did some shopping and before we knew it, the mall was closing. As we were exiting the building, my youngest daughter and I were about 30 feet behind my wife and my oldest daughter. Realizing this, we quickly caught up to them. I scanned the parking lot and saw that the parking lot was not busy with people yet. We got to the truck and I always stand on the passenger side as the others get in. I went around to the driver’s side, opened the door, and removed a bag of potting soil I had put there from the bed of the truck when we arrived, and put it back in the bed. My truck was parked in the last row, facing south.
On the driver’s side there’s a two-way road for mall traffic, then a grass divider and another parking lot with the spaces facing in opposite directions. I turned from putting the bag of soil in the bed of the truck and caught movement out of the corner of my left eye. I completed the 180-degree turn at the same time hooking my right thumb under my shirt in an upward motion to access my pistol from an inside the pants holster. With my hand firmly around the grip of my cocked and locked M1911, but not unholstered, I saw a man not 50 feet away. He stopped dead in his tracks at the mid-stripe of the road, probably due to my posture. He was wearing a flannel long-sleeved shirt, jeans, sneakers and his hands were empty.

He said that he lived in Texas but was working nearby and was having brake problems with his car on the way home (in a mall parking lot at night?). Steady in my stance I said, “I don’t carry cash, all I have is a check card.” He responded, with a wave of his hand, “I don’t feel comfortable talking to you,” and disappeared between the vehicles parked to the west of me. I found the mall security personnel and described the person to them, but did not disclose that I was armed (with concealed carry permit) for fear of them calling the cops on me. Had I pulled the trigger, that would be altogether different. Lesson learned here: Always double-check your surroundings. That guy came out of nowhere.
—PH, LA

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