The Day After

 Posted by at 3:27 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 062009

Terry and I both want to thank all of you who posted comments on the blog, e-mailed, or called us after reading about our encounter with an armed burglar in our RV. Your concern and support are very much appreciated.

We are okay, but both of us feel totally wiped out, I think myself more than Miss Terry. I have always been able to function during a crisis or emergency situation, but like this time, a day or so later it all hits me at once, leaving me feeling shaky, wrung out, and feeling like I am teetering on a ledge.

I only slept an hour or so Friday night, and ever since the incident, I have been going over it in my head, second guessing myself, and wondering what I could have/should have done differently. Looking back, I keep thinking that the second I realized that we had been victimized, we should have backed off and avoided the potential confrontation that followed. And I keep thinking what could have happened to Terry if he had shot me and she was left alone with him. I am mentally kicking myself over and over again for putting her into that situation. That is the worst part, the what ifs.

Rationally, I know it all happened too fast for me to have had time to think it all through and consider my options, and that I reacted the way my instincts and training told me to do. And it worked out; nobody got hurt (except maybe the intruder’s arm), and we are here to tell the story. But again, there is that nagging “what if.”

Somebody wrote to say that this could have been avoided if we had been in a campground, instead of dry camping in a parking lot. But there are no campgrounds open where we are this time of year. And while we have dry camped in everything from truck stops to rest areas, to the open desert with no problems, this was an RV repair facility’s RV parking area with hookups. The only other time we had a crime issue was in our first month on the road, when somebody tried to steal our pickup truck while were in a Coast to Coast campground in California. So much for the argument of campgrounds over other locations to spend the night.

I also had several people tell me that they would have shot the burglar and worried about whatever happened later. With all due respect, that sounds a lot better in talk than in real life. Once you pull that trigger, you can’t take that bullet back. The legal and civil ramifications that will follow will cost you much more than whatever they may have stolen, not to mention the psychological aftermath.

Taking another person’s life is about the worst experience one can ever have, no matter what the circumstances. You will relive it for the rest of your life, trust me on this one. I’ve been there and still wake up too many nights in a cold sweat.  Would I have shot the guy if he continued to be a threat to our lives? In a nanosecond. Would I regret it forever after? Yes, I would. I’m just very grateful it didn’t come to that.

On another note, our faithful old MCI bus conversion is on its way to California with its new owner, Rich Perry. Rich and his friend  Bill flew in Friday, spent most of yesterday going over the bus from stem to stern, and left about 4:30 yesterday afternoon.

Bus sale  webHere is a picture of myself and Rich shaking hands on the deal, while Bill and Miss Terry stand beside us.Bus leaving web

Bill has an MCI 7 of his own, and has converted several buses for friends, so I feel confident that he’ll help Rich get our beloved bus to its new home. It was really sad to see her driving away for the last time, but as the old verse says, “to everything, there is a season…”

Before all of this started with the burglary, we had planned to leave Elkhart as soon as the bus sale was wrapped up. Now I’m not sure what will happen. I have an appointment at the VA hospital in Lexington, Kentucky on Wednesday morning, and trying to cancel and reschedule it would be a real hassle. But we may have no other choice. We obviously need to spend some more time inside a repair shop before we can go anywhere. 

Thought For The Day – It is not what you are called, but what you answer to that matters.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  36 Responses to “The Day After”

  1. Nick I just used Paypal to extend my subscription for another two years. My way of showing support after a low point….

  2. Hey, Nick, I can’t help but think that the “what if” in all this is:

    What if Terry had been married to anyone else who didn’t react as quickly and efficiently as you did? What if anyone else was with her in that situation? It seems to me your trained response in the instant of awareness that the thief was right there on you was incredible and effective and got the job done. And by your actions, you and Terry are safe today to rebuild and regroup and continue with your lives together.

  3. We’re so glad you two are safe.

    It’s natural to re’evaluate after any trauma. You’re going to, so I won’t try to tell you not to. Maybe I can add a comforting thought or two to all the stuff you guys are wading through:

    The perp had a lot of hate in him. Take a look at the trash – job. The perp had a gun in his hand (and a damn good one at that)! If you’d been a submissive target you may not have fared nearly as well.

    I can still hear Dave B. in his personal safety lecture; Shouting – challenging -startling the potential perp and changing his course of action. It sounds like you did exactly that!

    Every situation is different and there are no universal answers. At any rate, what you did WORKED. Ergo what you did was RIGHT.

    All our best, and once again – we’re so glad you’re both safe!

  4. First we want to say that we are happy you both are ok.
    No need to second guess yourself, as you said you followed your instincts and that was the correct action that could be taken. Please do not beat your self up over this, as it is not worth it to yourself.
    Remember this that a cup of water can make a city block of fog.
    You are both fine and we are sure shaken, and the items and vandalism can be repaired.
    What you need is some safe Florida sunshine.

  5. It seems to me that you did the best you could under a horrible, terrifying circumstance. What you did was “right” because three people are still alive. Try to let go of the “what ifs” and be comforted in knowing what you did do prevented any loss of life.

  6. Nick and Terry –

    I’ve got so many things I’d like to say but I feel like I will just be echoing what others have said so I’ll try to keep it short. First and foremost – the repeated replaying over and over is normal so try to not beat yourself up. Try not to think about the what if’s. Those are going to make you go crazy – no matter what decision you make, there will ALWAYS be what if’s. The dude was standing there with a gun – you reacted. You slammed a door on his hand and distracted him. Better yet, you knocked it out of his hand.

    I would never wish such an experience on anyone but personally, I’m glad this was you and not other folks who would have ‘just shot him’. Shooting is not the answer. Yeah, it sucks this guy is walking around somewhere…possibly even plotting against another victim but the fact that you are posting about this experience is going to encourage others to be aware and not become complacent. This experience could have happened anywhere – campground, BLM, rest area, in the driveway of your own home.

    Did you get a good look at the guys face? Would it help at all to go to the police station and sit down with a sketch artist and put up those pictures around town? Whoever it was, probably lives in the area. I would like to this that somewhere in this guy – there is a conscience. If he has a conscience, he’ll feel guilty.

    Well…you’ve got a lot on your plate right now but you really should get some sleep. It might be difficult but get some sleep…eat…go for walks and get some exercise. You’ll think better if you do the basics.

    Take care – Kari

  7. First congratulations on selling the bus. One rainbow after the burglary/vandalism rain.
    I know about second guessing. I just took my rally group on a tour that turned out to be a real nightmare. I am kicking myself for not going on site and checking it out. But I said to myself, “Get real Connie. Be thankful. Look at what Nick and Terry just went through. They could have been wounded or killed. You just had a small glitch in your rally.”
    Because we care about you, remember “I was sorry I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.” It is all terrible right now but keep in the foremost of your mind, YOU AND TERRY ARE OK. You did the right things, Nick. What if you had stayed in the van and the thief came out and fired in to the van? He saw you drive up. He picked up the gun. He was ready to do both of you harm. You are a HERO, Nick. You saved not only yourself but you saved Terry from God knows what. It all worked out for the best. Pat yourself on the back, Nick. I think you did a wonderful job during the crisis.
    I do understand about not shooting the fleeing thief. We took a gun safety course with the Florida police. The emphasized over and over again that “fear of your life” is reason to shot a thief. But just shooting him because of taking your stuff doesn’t count. You will end up in court over just shooting him for taking your stuff. Although you may want to shoot him, it’s not a “reason to.” So restraint here was called for. Personally I would have REALLY wanted to shoot him but in this day and age thieves have RIGHTS.
    What is the country coming to?
    You are in our prayers and positive thoughts. Love ya, Connie B.

  8. We are so very glad that you and Terry are safe and unhurt and so sorry that you had to go through that – What a horrendous thing to go through. This too shall pass and I agree 100% with what Jon and Kathleen’s comments. Take care of yourselves and try to put this behind you. Hope to see you guys again real soon.

  9. Nick, you are an example that the rest of us would do well to follow – quick and clear thinking and proper reaction in an unforeseen circumstance! Second guessing yourself after the fact is just human nature, as Bill said, you were right because it worked.

    Now it is time to relax, stay warm, fix the damages and move on to warmer places. Be thankful that you are able to do so.

    As others have also said, we are all available to help in any way we can. We are only an hour and a half away and you have my e-mail. Holler if there is anything we can do to help – maybe parts that need to be picked up in the Chicago area and brought to Elkhart?

    At any rate, we are all thankful that you and Terry are well and safe, getting things fixed and ready to get back on the road!

  10. Nick,

    As everyone has told you, you did the RIGHT thing, the PERFECT thing under the circumstances. In EVERY respect–both in your quick thinking to disarm (too bad not literally–it would have been sweet revenge for a door slam to take his whole ARM off!) the thief and also in NOT shooting him–as you know better than I do anyway, that would have haunted you both psychologically and legally for all too long. And that shaky, wrung out feeling is you still coming down from massive instantaneous adrenaline overload.

    One thing I am so glad of is that you are in Elkhart where you have so many good friends right there to help you get your home back together and ready to depart. As a reader who is nowhere near enough to do much to help, I am glad that others can do what I wish I were able to do. BTW, people reschedule medical appointments ALL the time, so don’t fret, they will understand and fit you in when you can get there.

    Hang in there, take a deep breath, tell yourself you did absolutely the perfect thing when a split-second decision was needed, and then just do what you and Terry do best–handle it one step at a time. We all love you (even those of us who haven’t met you yet!)


  11. Even though we’ve only met once, as a longtime subscriber and blog reader, Patty and I were shocked to read of your violent encounter. As others have said, don’t beat yourself up for what you might have done as an alternative to what was your instinctive reaction. If you had been more removed from this dirt bag, perhaps retreating from the potential danger would have been the preferred option. However, when a face to face situation is thrust upon you, your quick, aggressive actions may have saved yours and Terry’s life. As a retired CHP who has been shot at and been involved in many violent situations, you did exactly the right thing, both during the initial confrontation, and after the threat to your life was diminished. We look forward to seeing you both in Yuma.

  12. Hugs to you both.

  13. As the others have said Nick, you made the right choices at each decision tree during this dangerous situation to keep Terry and yourself safe. This was a situation forced on you, and was not of your own making. There is no doubt about this Nick.
    Get the rig fixed and get underway, due to your actions, you and Terry have lot’s of lifetime left to spend together. Enjoy.

    Pat & Jim

  14. As a cop looking at this incident, to me the very fact that he didn’t smash out a window and go out the back or far side when you pulled up tells me that this was an aggresive criminal. He had the option to escape, but instead he came at you guys. He was expecting a couple of retired old people he could take control of and do whatever. The last thing he expected was your reaction. It threw him off his game and put the ball back nto your court, where you handled yourself amazingly well. Stop second guessing yourself, you did good!!!

  15. Nick,
    The law of the jungle prevals in situations like this. There are predtors and prey, and you refused to be a lamb, but rather a tiger. Ive been a corrections officer for ten years and have no doubt in my mind that he would have killed you and/or raped and killed your missus.

  16. Nick
    I am a police officer in Pennnsylvania and an avid follower of you and Bad Nick both. I showed your two blog posts around my department, and the conensus is that you handled yourself like a seasoned veteran. You saw and assessed the situation, you demanded the suspect show his hands, which probably made him think you were armed and steered him off course for whatever he was planning when he came toward you from inside the RV, you disarmed a younger, stronger, armed opponent, you drove him off without using lethal force, you secured the scene until backup arrived, when he reappeared you did not shoot him, but you warned him that any further aggressive action on his part would result in deadly force on yours. My chief said that if you had been one of our officers, he’d be handing you a commendatiuon and pinning an award for valor on your uniform this morning.

  17. Dianne and I are so glad that you are safe. We know that there are clean-up, repair, replacement hassles ahead, but those will pass. The bottom line is that you did your best in a terrifying situation and because of your actions the outcome was probably the best it could have been.

    A year ago this month we were parked outside a remodeling facility with hookups in Elkhart, just like you, waiting to have our TVs changed out. At the time I was more worried about the cold and possible damage to the motor-home due to freezing than any kind of burglary. I don’t intend to over worry about violence in the future, but your experience makes this real. I intend to be a lot more careful in the future.

  18. From my perspective as a 24 year veteran police officer, you did everything right. You were too close to retreat and turn your back on an armed perp. You took control of the situation, you disarmed him, you refrained from shooting him as he fled, and you and your wife are alive today. Damned fine work, my friend!

  19. Hang in there…Big Guy. No one got hurt and you only lost “stuff” that can be replaced. But I know how you feel violated. I have had 2 vehicles stolen, vehicles that I had put lots of work into. It still bothers me. Like you, I have CCW permits from several states but seldom carry. But I do have my gun by the bed when we boondock or stop at Wallyworld for the night. You never know. You might want to invest in a lockbox for your firearms.

  20. 20 years as an MP and now 15 as a deputy in Oregon tells me you did exactly the right things at the right time. I’d be comfortable sharing a squad car with you any day.

  21. Nick,
    I am so proud of you, reacting the way you did. With it all happening so fast, you had no choice but to react the way you did. You were already up to the RV, he probably saw you first. You’ll be suffering from a form of PTSD for a while, which is expected. And your body will ache from the adrenaline rush.
    Glad you guys are safe. Take some time to heal, physically and emotionally. Love you.

  22. If it would have been me in your place, I’d have crapped my pants!

  23. Nick:

    You might want to take your motorhome back to the factory in Forest City, Iowa. They will have the cabinets, glass, etc. that will match exactly so you will not be faced with a patch job repair. They are probably pretty slow right now and should be able to work you in on short notice.

    I hope you have insurance so that this is not a financial strain. With insurance you are just inconvenienced and out a deductible. This time next year it will just be a bad memory.

    By the way, responding to those who said that you are less safe in a repair shop lot than a campground or even a Wal-Mart, I agree. The bad guys have discovered RV sales lots and there are stories in the news every day it seems about how they break into dozens of RVs at a time and steal the flat screen TVs and other electronics. They even return monthly to hit the same places again. I think you are safer in the campgrounds because there are more people around to watch for the bad guys.

    Glad you are both safe.

  24. Glad you are both all right. My dad used to say that if someone wanted to rob the store to just give them the money. “Stuff” just isn’t worth that much. Having said that, you and Miss T seem to have handled the situation awfully well. Good on you both. Now travel safely and look out for that idiot driver in the next lane!

  25. Nick & Terry,

    Yesterday was the 1st time that I didn’t get to read your blog with my morning coffee in a very long time as I had early installs until late at night. I was shocked when I opened the blog this morning to catch up and to find out what had happened.

    As many have said, the important thing is that you are ok. It also makes me think that there is a reason it happened to you, and that is because you reach out to so many people, and have a special gift with your writing that just may help prevent this from happening to others in the future.

    Stay Safe and try to stay warm.

  26. Nick and Terry, Hugs to both of you. I know the feeling of being violated will stay with you for awhile. Both you and Terry reacted the best way possible. We are so glad you are safe. I immediately thought of Dave and know he would say you did great.

    Good news that you found a new home for the MCI.

    I know sharing your story made us and many others be more aware of our surroundings. And we will not be going out without protection.

    Be safe and get to a warm area. See you in AZ.

    Jean and John

  27. I can just picture Dave B. nodding his head in approval of the way you handled this “challenge”… He’s saying “Way to go, Bro!”

  28. Nick:
    Lets hope you busted his arm up some. Having been house burglarized twice, I have some idea of what you feel. Congrats on the restraint in not shooting him, I am sure he is not worth the trouble it would have caused you. It must have been tempting, I remember still longing for a weapon as I saw the worthless bums jumping over my back fence.

  29. WOW So sorry about your encounter. We haven’t read your blog for a couple days and just had some friends call us from Elkhart. So happy you are alright. I’m shaking just reading about it. Quick thinking to slam the door on his hand and got the gun. Saying a prayer for you both. God Bless

  30. OH MY GOODNESS Nick, I just read this post and the previous one… I cannot even imagine this happening but it did and thankfully you handled it well. I am so sorry that they trashed your rig. You are so right to say take what you want you lazy B_______ and just leave my place alone. Why must they destroy everything? I don’t get it at all. I am thankful you both are safe after all everything can be fixed and replaced. You are in my thoughts my friend. Travel Safe

  31. Nick & Miss Terry,
    Like Jeff, we just renewed our subscription for two years as well. We couldn’t find a selection for the digital version but we are sure y’all will figure it out.

    Our prayers are with you. We hope you get to warmer weather soon.

    Barry & Joyce
    Presently at Camp San Luis Obispo, CA

  32. Miss Terry I hope you give the big guy an extra special kiss from all of us. It must be a comfort to be married to a man who you know will do whatever it takes to protect you, even if it means throwing himself into the path of a gunman. The one time my (ex) husband and I were ever faced with violence was when a mugger robbed us in New Jersey. He pulled out a knife, pushed me against a wall and held it to my face and demanded our money. My husband took out his wallet, threw it at him and ran away, leaving me there! He ran three blocks to our hotel and up to the desk clerk and told her to call 911! That marriage ended soon afterward.

  33. I think every man asked himself at one time or another what he would do if he came face to face with an armed assailant in a life or death situation. Nobody knows how they will really react when the Sh** hit the fan until it happens. You, my friend, now know that you have what it takes to get the job done to keep you and yours safe.

  34. Nick, I am so damned proud of you! You showed that SOB that us old fat guys are a force to be reckoned with! Seriously, I hope I am never faced with such a situation, but if I ever am, I can only hope I handle myself as well.

  35. Nick and Terri,
    Like all the others said…we are very happy and grateful you are okay!!
    May the following days be blessed with many wonderful opportunities to be loved by all those who care so much for you.

    Thank you for the comments you made on shooting the guy…

    I couldn’t be more proud of our online friends…

    John & Linda

  36. Glad you two are safe, and that Things were all that were taken .

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