Avondale Brewery Abduction, Fake Police Carjacking, & the Value of Suspicion

One of the most powerful learning models and coaching tools in personal defense is analyzing real world incidents. This cuts through all the theory and looks at objective evidence. Reality.

Let’s look at two real world incidents that happened recently here in Birmingham, one of which happened this very morning, and see what actionable intelligence you can gather to develop a very reliable tactic to survive if you are targeted for an attack.

Please take a moment and read these two short reports on the incidents.

Woman abducted at gunpoint outside Avondale Brewery speaks out to warn others | AL.com

Gunmen posing as police carjack drug delivery van on I-65 | AL.com

I would argue that on a subconscious level, both these people knew something bad was about to happen.

Did you recognize the simple, common indicator?


Both the woman at Avondale Brewery and the van driver said prior to the attack that their attackers seemed “suspicious.” But they ignored their suspicions and ended up in danger. The woman said that she thought her attacker seemed suspicious, but after she walked past him…she ignored her suspicion and walked closer to the danger before passing the attacker. The van driver said the car that was flashing red lights seemed suspicious, but he pulled over anyway…he ignored his suspicion and stopped his van, allowing the danger to get closer.

In our sessions and seminars, we always tell students to trust and act on their intuition. Suspicion is one of the most powerful intuitive signals that something isn’t right. If everything was normal, why would you feel suspicious of something?

Trust Your Intuitive Signals!

In fact, the etymology of the tuition part of the word means “to protect.” Your intuition always has your safety at heart. We always say that in a self defense situation, it’s better to act on your intuition and be wrong about the perceived danger than it is to not act on your intuition and be correct about the perceived danger. 99.9% percent of survivors report that they had a bad feeling just prior to the attack.

If you are suspicious of something, recognize that feeling and ask yourself, “Why am I feeling suspicious of this person, place, or thing?” Then you can start to assess the situation and develop a simple plan of action to proceed with caution.

Assess. Plan. Act.

For example, the woman in our story could have walked back to the brewery and had a couple of people walk with her, or better yet, called the cops. I’ve been to Avondale Brewery several times (great beer by the way). On the weekends they often have a security professional checking IDs at the door. She could have asked him to walk her to her car after noticing the suspicious individual.

Sidebar: Note also that her attack happened on April 25, which was a beautiful Saturday, at 8pm. Think about that. For a brewery, with nice weather, at 8pm…these are prime business hours. Which means lots of people around. And that didn’t stop her attacker from committing his crime. She reported that this happened in a “safe neighborhood.” First, I’ve never considered Avondale to be a “safe” neighborhood. It’s definitely getting better, but it is not “safe.” More importantly, no neighborhood is “safe.” Recently there have been several armed crimes in Mountain Brook, the place many people consider the ritzy, high class, always safe, area of Birmingham.

Our van driver, upon recognizing his feeling of suspicion, could have cautiously driven to a more populated area. Or better yet, to a police station, firehouse, or hospital. I’ve been pulled over by the police a few times and none have given me a hard time for slowly driving a bit further before stopping. Usually it was to get off of a high traffic roadway. Also, in Alabama, police are the only emergency service that may use only blue lights, or a combination of blue and red. I can’t recall any police cruiser, marked or unmarked, only using red lights. I always see blue. If you don’t have a clearly marked police vehicle and don’t see any blue lights, activate your awareness and pay attention. If in doubt, while you are driving to a populated area, call 911 and ask them to confirm that you are in fact being legitimately pulled over.

In figuring out your plan of action, choose safety whenever you can. Always remember that you lose nothing by choosing safety.

So the next time you have a sudden feeling of suspicion, what are you going to do?

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