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Shot At Point Blank Range: Lessons From The Street

By Christopher Caile

This reenactment by shows how quick thinking and hiding behind a tree saved the victim from certain death at the hands of a point-blank gun assailant.

You saw it on the news – startling film images repeated over and over –
film of an older man trying to shoot another just feet way hiding behind a tree.

It is a true life story of a disturbed man with a gun, a man violently angry about a lawyer being paid from his trust fund. After a court hearing the attacker sought out the attorney in front of a California courthouse. The attacker wanted to impose his own brand of justice.

The assailant, William Strier, had asked a passer by if he had seen the attorney, Gerry Curry. He then walked up to Curry, asked, “Are you Mr. Curry?” and when Curry said “Yes”, Strier pulled a gun and shot him point blank in the neck. Luckily Curry wasn’t killed or even disabled, although he was bleeding.

What happened next and how Curry survived is a lesson in quick thinking and sound defensive tactics.

What saved Curry’s life was that he was able to dash behind a nearby tree and use it for protection. A cameraman at the scene for another trial caught Strier on film as he fired around the tree at Curry, who dodged, ducked and stepped side to side, back in forth, keeping the tree between him and the continuing rain of bullets. After emptying his gun, Strier pocketed his weapon and calmly walked away as if nothing had happened. An off-duty reserve sheriff at this point tackled and brought him to the ground where he was arrested.

Although Curry was wounded and bleeding, the wounds were not life threatening.

Strier was involved in a dispute in which he alleged that a trustee appointed by the court to manage his trust fund was withholding money he needed for medical care. The fund had been established with money Strier received in an injury settlement.

The dispute was so volatile that Evelyn Murphy, the trustee, said she felt "physically threatened'' by Strier. She also said that Strier had called her in late August and warned, "I'm going to kill you.'' Murphy had been asked to resign and was being represented by Curry. She had also requested the judge to grant her additional money from the fund, around $6,200, for her and Curry’s services. A hearing on this matter had taken place that morning, but Strier didn’t attend and had not been in the courthouse. Curry had never met him before being attacked.
Lessons Learned:

If a person pulls gun on you in anger or for the purpose of revenge, words alone might not be sufficient. If the person is close to you, a well trained expert might be able to maneuver and wrestle the gun away from the attacker, but you probably aren’t that person.

Lessons Learned:

If a person pulls gun on you in anger or for the purpose of revenge, words alone might not be sufficient. If the person is close to you, a well trained expert might be able to maneuver and wrestle the gun away from the attacker, but you probably aren’t that person.

If a shot is fired and you are still alive, or not seriously injured, it probably means the attacker is not a professional. A professional would have shot you from a distance, or at close range put a series of shots on target, close in. A non-professional is often emotionally charged. If the attacker demonstrates that, he or she is intent on harming or killing you, some form of action is your only chance. The more emotionally charged the attacker is, the less steady will be the gun. The attacker might even be waving it around and shouting.

If this is the case, you might be able just to duck and run. You might also create some kind of distraction – say something confusing (making him think and slowing his reaction time), glance over the attacker’s shoulder (which might make him turn to see what’s coming), or throw coins, a paper, magazine, even a briefcase in the face – giving you a precious split second for defensive action.

If the gun is next to you or pressed into you, you might block it to one side and move. But if it is just robbery, don’t resist –give up your money, you wallet or purse. It’s better than your life.

Finding nearby cover can save your life. If possible get something substantial between yourself and your attacker, as Curry did. Inside, use an upturned table, substantial piece of furniture or thick door. Outside use a tree, car or other vehicle, a metal mailbox, phone booth stand, even a stone wall.

If you have a politically charged job or are involved in an emotionally charged situation where decisions can elicit violent reactions or emotions by those effected, don’t readily identify yourself at a stranger’s requent, or if you do be very alert and careful. And if you have been threatened, especially if it’s your life is at stake, never take the threat lightly. Even if someone associated with you, such as the person Curry represented has been threatened or intimidated, watch out for yourself too.

Always be aware of your surroundings and of anyone who approaches you. Most people in public places are totally unaware of their surroundings, of any possible danger and are not alert and prepared for any emergency or threat that might arise. You might be lucky and never have to defend yourself, and probably will never be attacked with a gun at close range like Curry was – but then again you might. Be prepared, and remain alert at all times.

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About The Author:

Christopher Caile is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of He has been a student of the martial arts for over 43 years. He first started in judo. Then he added karate as a student of Phil Koeppel in 1959. Caile introduced karate to Finland in 1960 and then hitch-hiked eastward. In Japan (1961) he studied under Mas Oyama and later in the US became a Kyokushinkai Branch Chief. In 1976 he followed Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura when he formed Seido karate and is now a 6th degree black belt in that organization's honbu dojo. Other experience includes judo, aikido, diato-ryu, kenjutsu, kobudo, Shinto Muso-ryu jodo, boxing and several Chinese fighting arts including Praying mantis, Pak Mei (White Eyebrow) and shuai chiao. He is also a student of Zen. A long-term student of one branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong, he is a personal disciple of the qi gong master and teacher of acupuncture Dr. Zaiwen Shen (M.D., Ph.D.) and is Vice-President of the DS International Chi Medicine Association. He holds an M.A. in International Relations from American University in Washington D.C. and has traveled extensively through South and Southeast Asia. He frequently returns to Japan and Okinawa to continue his studies in the martial arts, their history and tradition. In his professional life he has been a businessman, newspaper journalist, inventor and entrepreneur.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

gun self-defense, gun attacks, self-defense, street awarness

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