I shouted for him to exit the vehicle with his hands visible, my arms locked out in an extended position with a death grip on my Glock 17. I had at least half a magazine left in it by my guesstimation. My stance was wide and low, ready for a fight as the adrenaline surged through me. I was thinking hard and fast as various problems presented themselves to me that night. Out of the lower portion of my peripheral vision, I could see the green glow of the tritium sights on my pistol, unnatural in the dimly lit suburban street surrounded by incandescent street lights. The sights lined up in my view which was focused on the windshield.  The car wouldn’t move, and it sputtered and clacked unnaturally as an arm extended out of the passenger side window only five meters away. The extended arm presented a pistol of some unknown model — pointed at me before I had even registered its existence.

A muffled bang rang out as the largest muzzle flash I’ve ever seen in my life erupted from the pistol, auditory exclusion in full swing. It was like everything slowed down as the round cracked off and my brain began the OODA loop. Observe; the threat has begun employing lethal force. Orient; he is sitting in the passenger seat roughly five meters from my position, the driver will be just out of my line of fire and is not an immediate threat. Decide; shoot him in the chest until he stops firing the pistol. Act; execute the plan. All this occurred in a fraction of a second and my body sidestepped to the right getting offline as my muzzle pivoted to achieve what I calculated would be center mass shots on the threat through the dark windshield.

My shots blasted off; I barely registered the noise of my shots as I watched the green dot where the front sight was rapidly bouncing up and down. I was only vaguely away of its presence as my attention was hooked on where the threat should have been. The gun stopped shooting as if I was firing on full-auto and I tipped it up to identify the status of the breach/chamber. It was empty, so I dropped the magazine into my hand just in time to apprehensively realize I was not carrying a spare. I determined that my only option was to fake the funk. I began to close the distance as I slammed the magazine back into the gun before hitting the slide release.

I glided up and around the bumper to where the passenger door had been flung open, scanning for the threat. He had attempted to crawl away after his brain had thrown his nearly lifeless body out of the vehicle — his escape attempt amounted to a few inches after hitting the ground. I moved in and dropped my knee onto his back, quickly yanking his arms out from under his chest to ascertain the location of his weapon. I saw it near the bushes by the back of the car and began a body sweep, to determine that there was nothing else immediately dangerous to me on his person. Casings were scattered around his body, contrasting sharply against the pavement under the street lights; he had fired a handful of shots at me.

His body was limp and heavy as I rolled him over. I could see the bright red liquid rapidly soaking into his shirt — a tattered hole at the center. His eyes weren’t looking at me but instead fixated in some far off place out in the night sky. They looked as if they were desperately searching for the answer to some unasked question, while the confused face around them contorted in a pained but inquisitive expression. Suddenly it all faded away; leaving his expression blank. The life leaving his eyes as they dilated into a blank stare — I knew he was dead.

There was no epiphany for me. From the way my NCO’s and peers had always spoken, I had assumed there would be this grand defining moment in my first lethal fight. That I would be experienced in combat, a true warrior, a real gunfighter. I didn’t feel good or bad about what had transpired. Instead, I was just here; and he was not. Though I knew I had fought well and done correctly by my training aside from a few errors — but nothing had changed. I was simply alive. Maybe there was an epiphany after all.

Featured image courtesy of the author.