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W. Hock Hochheim's

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Hock Hochheim's Combat Talk Forum

  • August 14, 2020, 04:08:12 PM
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Author Topic: Always be prepared..."When the time to perform arrives, the time to prepare has  (Read 5844 times)


  • Bujinkandas
  • Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8

"When the time to perform arrives, the time to prepare has passed."

I am new to Hock's training, but I have been in Law Enforcement for 15 years and have 23 years of military service and 23 years of martial arts training.  Hock often talks about training for realism.  Even trained Swat officers are not ready for "real" everyday situations.  Read this story and give me your thoughts.  I hope it drives home Hosk'c lessons. 


I had taken my family to a McDonald's Restaurant on our way to a pool
party. I was off-duty, in civilian clothes, and armed.

I was standing in line and oblivious (like all the other patrons) to the
fact that an armed suspect had taken the manager hostage and was forcing
her to open the safe in the restaurant's office. One of the cashiers had
seen this and I overheard her telling another employee that the business
was being robbed.

At that time, I had approximately 15 years of experience and was a SWAT
team member and use-of-force/firearms instructor. I had talked to my wife
about such an occurrence and we had a preplanned response. When I told her
to take the children and leave the building, she did not hesitate. I began
quietly telling employees and patrons to leave. My thinking was to remove
as many innocent bystanders as possible and then leave myself.

I thought that because I did not see the suspect enter he must have come in
from a side door or employee entrance and I assumed (wrongly) that he would
go out the same way. As I was standing near the front counter trying to get
some of the kitchen help to get out, the suspect came from the office area
and began running in my direction.

I immediately noted the large semi-automatic pistol in his hand. The
distance was about 15 to 20 yards. I drew my weapon, announced myself and
took a kneeling position behind the counter. Unfortunately, the suspect
raised his weapon at me and the gunfight erupted. The suspect fired a total
of 2 rounds in my direction. I fired 11, striking him 10 times.

My weapon was now empty and I ran from the line of fire to reload my spare
magazine. I then approached the downed suspect and could tell that he was
seriously wounded. It was right then that I considered that there might be
more than one "bad guy" (the thought had not crossed my mind before this)
and I began to scan the 360 to check.

I immediately noticed a small child lying behind me. I saw blood pooling
under her head and knew at a glance she was dead. One of the bullets fired
at me had struck this child. Unbeknownst to me, my family had tried to exit
out the fire door, which was locked. My wife was still trying to get out
when the shooting started and she pushed my kids under a table where they
all witnessed the gunfight.

The end result was that the suspect died, I survived, but a 9-year-old girl
did not.

I tell you this story because I think that this topic is of utmost
importance. It is largely ignored in mainstream police training. I want to
tell you some of the lessons I learned from this incident.

1. If you are going to carry a firearm off-duty, you should carry extra
ammo. Security camera video of this incident revealed that I fired all 11
rounds from my Glock 26 in about 2 seconds. My extra mag held 17 rounds.
Words cannot describe the emotion I felt when I slammed that mag into my
weapon and was able to still be in the fight.

Mostly because of circumstances (distance) and my training, my rounds were
on target. It could have happened differently and the reality is that most
of us miss more than we hit when involved in a gun battle.

2. You cannot have the typical police mind-set in an off-duty situation. I
ended up in this incident without a radio, without backup, without body
armor, handcuffs, other force options and without taking the time to think
it through. I was truly most frightened when the gunfight was over and I
was standing there covering the suspect with my weapon in my T-shirt and
shorts. I was really worried that one of my own guys might not recognize
me.  I was worried too that there might be some other off-duty copper
around who would think I was the bad guy.

The smartest, most responsible thing I could have done would have been to
take care of my family first. I should have seen personally to their
safety. If I had grabbed them and gone outside, I would have spared them
this entire experience and that little girl would probably still be alive

Again, words cannot describe the emotions that we all went through after
this incident. I recognized afterward that it could have been one of my
children lying dead because of my actions. When you are off-duty your first
responsibility is to your family. You should never forget this.

3. I survived this incident.  Partly due to my training and tactics. Partly
due to God's grace and blind luck. But the other side of the coin is that I
got into this incident because of my training. I switched immediately into
"cop" mode without stopping to consider that I was at a great tactical
disadvantage. Most of us are driven and dedicated to the point of self
destruction and I think good cops die because we are taught to place our
personal safety second when others are in danger.

Because I had never trained realistically for a situation like this, I was
unprepared. Most of the guys I worked with then and now carry off-duty
weapons. But few of them, if any, have really taken the time to engage in
realistic training and preparation for how to handle an off-duty incident.

Training can be as simple as discussing these types of situations with your
coworkers. Since this shooting, I have devoted at least one quarterly range
session with my students to off-duty encounters and the associated

4. The responsibility of carrying a firearm is huge. I had devoted
countless hours to training for the fight, but was not fully prepared for
the aftermath. None of the training scenarios, books, films, etc. that I
learned from touched upon the fact that when you take that gun out and
decide to take action, 9-year-old kids can get killed. Even if you do
everything by the book, use good tactics, and are within policy and the
law, the outcome can still be negative.

You have to remember that the suspect does not go to the range and he does
not practice rules of weapons safety. He does not care about what's in his
line of fire. If it's you or him, you gotta do what you gotta do, but
whether you're on-duty or off-duty we need to train to look at the totality
of the incident. Letting the bad guy go because doing otherwise would place
innocent people in grave danger needs to be more "socially acceptable"
amongst our ranks. I think we're starting to see more of this in the
pursuit policies of most agencies and I have tried to carry this message
over into my training and teaching.

I guess the bottom line here is that it's good to be on "auto pilot" when
it comes to tactics in these situations, but we can't go on auto pilot in
our assessment and examination of the environment and circumstances leading
up to and during the event. On-duty mind-set and off-duty mind-set need to
be strongly separated and the boundaries clear.

A California Sergeant



  • In your house drinking your coffee
  • Level 4
  • *****
  • Posts: 1813
  • The Warlord


Thanks for the story......I'm using much of the advice for my personal and family protection....there are some good additional lessons. 

  'Advanced' is being able to do the basics, despite what else is happening. 

Our Country won't go on forever, if we stay soft as we are now. There won't be any AMERICA because some foreign soldiery will invade us and take our women and breed a hardier race!"  --- Chesty Puller, USMC


  • Bujinkandas
  • Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8

You are welcome, I think there are some good lessons to be learned here.


  • Level 3
  • ****
  • Posts: 223
  • Bone, Mass, Density

AS Jeff said, "Wow"!
Very powerful lesson here. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Mike Steele
Mercy Triumphs Over Judgement


  • Level 4
  • *****
  • Posts: 558
    • Stay Alive Program inc.

I am in the process of applying to many police departments here in San Diego & I will keep that story in the front of my mind as a rmeminder of what is important Thank you for sharing that story.


  • Bujinkandas
  • Forum Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8

My pleasure.  Keep training