On the afternoon of Friday, December 26th 2014, a man was on the way to see a movie with his wife when they noticed something out of place. A vehicle was stopped on the side of the road with two people inside, the driver’s side door was open and there was clothing flying out the side window. It looked like someone was in distress.
Not long after, he realized that he was witnessing a brutal assault on the female passenger who was inside the vehicle. His training and instincts kicked in; he knew that he needed to stop this assault from continuing. While his wife called 911, he exited his vehicle and used his legal concealed carry firearm to engage the subject. Using initial firearm presentation and strong verbal commands, he almost immediately got the assailant to stop the potentially deadly attack.
Watch the incident caught on camera here:
I would like to introduce you to Aaron Kreag, a 38-year-old married father of two that lives in North Richland Hills TX, just minutes from where this incident occurred. He is the GIS Director for BIS Consultants, an IT/GIS company located in Farmers Branch TX. The company provides desktop and web based computer mapping services and solutions to clients all over Texas. The company is also 2A-friendly, and with that, Kreag also carries his firearm at work.
Aaron Kreag with his wife and two children | Photo: Aaron Kreag
Moreover, Aaron has a military background including eight years in the US Army where he served as a combat medic. After the military, Aaron worked as a civilian flight paramedic, and then onto Baghdad Iraq where he worked as a private security contractor and tactical medic over a three year period.
Aaron at the Iraqi Parliament with senior Iraqi leadership and US General.
He is a part-time firearms instructor, Texas CHL Instructor, competitive shooter, Texas DPS licensed personal protection officer, Federal Firearm Licensee, lifetime NRA member and Heckler & Koch addict.
I recently caught up with Aaron on Facebook and he agreed to take a call so that we could discuss the incident in a little more detail than what I’ve seen in the news reports. Aaron provided me with a great account of what happened, as well as his thoughts on the importance of training.
Below is a transcript of our conversation. At the end of this paragraph and very end of this article is a video which has the audio from our conversation. Disclaimer: The audio recording is poor and did not come out as expected. While you are able to hear the call, the distortion is very problematic.
On Sunday January 4th at 8pm central, Aaron will be on the Armed American Radio program with Rob Pincus to discuss the incident in detail from an “academic” perspective. If you would like to connect with Aaron you can email at [email protected] or find his Facebook community page here.
Transcription of audio interview:
Brandon: I very much appreciate you taking a couple minutes to talk to me and… wow, crazy story!
Aaron: Yes, yeah, it is a..it is a bit nuts.
B: And yeah, and I have to say, as you know most people who carry don’t…something like that doesn’t happen and everyone always wonders if they ever have to do that, what it’s like and what was going on and everything. Yeah, so, first off I commend you man, that was a brave thing to do, definitely.
A: Thanks, thanks, I appreciate that.
B: Yeah, yeah, it’s … you know there’s always been need for more people like that I think, and it was unfortunate that it had to happen but it’s nice to see that you were there to put an end to it. I know you’ve probably gone over this 100 times already, but if you’re okay with it, just kind of briefly give me a rundown of what happened, like you were in the car and you saw something happening and kind of what was going on.
A: Yeah, so the wife and I were going to see a movie and it was around one, 1:15 in the afternoon on Friday, you know, going down Southlake Boulevard, a six lane road, heavily traveled, Southlake is one of the most affluent suburbs in the state. I’m driving along and, just by virtue of my past, I’ve got this kind of knack of kind of scanning … sectors down range and paying attention to surroundings. People that mildly know me say, my better friends and what not, say I’m hyper-vigilant. So, I’m driving along and probably half a mile down the road is this red SUV parked on the side of the road in a right hand turn lane that turns into a brand new retail area and it caught my attention at first because I was like that’s odd that it just stopped. The next thing we see almost simultaneously, my wife and I, are personal belongings flying out the passenger side of the car.
B: Oh wow…
A: And so, clothing, purse, you know, whatever. So, we then realized that the driver side door is completely ajar. I told my wife, “man, you know, that somebody is having a heart attack or choking or something in that car.” It looks like the driver is trying to…there’s some kind of medical emergency and I used to be a paramedic. I was prepared to jump out of the car and do CPR on the side of the road. And so I am slowing down while lowering my passenger side window and I’m slowing, slowing as we’re approaching and as I get to a 45 degree angle on that driver side door, I see that this guy just closed-fist punching, left-right, left-right, left-right, this lady on the passenger seat who’s like kind of bent down,
no longer sitting up-right, bent down. And I was like, “what the hell?” And, almost instantaneously, once we saw the closed-fist punches the guy immediately postures up, he’s out of his seatbelt of course, he postures up and starts ramming his right elbow down in the back of this lady’s head and neck and she’s screaming … like you probably could have heard her two or three blocks away, she was screaming bloody murder. Again, almost near simultaneous my wife and I were like, I think he was trying to kill that lady. I just threw the car in park and got out of the vehicle, it was just instantaneous, and she immediately got on the phone with 911, my wife, and I worked my way around the rear end of the vehicle while drawing from concealment and came around the trunk and didn’t want to…, in the picture it’s hard to see but I wasn’t next to my car I was like 5 or 6 feet behind it and about 5 or 6 feet off the corner of the rear corner panel. So, my wife wasn’t in the line of fire if there was a gun fight. And the assailant was in my line of fire but the passenger wasn’t. And passed the assailant, here is this big thing, everybody who sees online can’t see it, passed him is a brand new grocery store that’s going in, it’s under construction and they just put the tilt wall, concrete wall up. So, beyond him, was just a brand new, like concrete and plaster wall for a retail development that is probably 6 months from completion. So, online, everyone is saying, “oh it looks like the victim is in the line of fire,” that’s not true. “Oh, what’s passed the assailant? There’s probably cars and people,” well no there’s a big concrete wall. And of course my wife’s not in the line of fire, necessarily, where the car was stopped. And so, I immediately come around the corner, I come up on target and start yelling as loud as I could – man, I’m still hoarse right now actually. I lost my voice for half a day afterwards. I’m yelling at this guy, ”stop attacking, stop attacking!” I had to say it probably three times and he…
B: Before he noticed you?
A: Then as soon as he thought hey, there’s somebody, he kind of looked over his left shoulder. And in hindsight my thought process was that he didn’t immediately see the gun because he kind of turned very aggressively like he was going to rush me out of the car and I think like a second or two later you know maybe just a second he notices that I’m fully extended with a handgun on him and his eyes got as big as saucers. Like half-dollar size. That guy was like “oh-no what the hell?” I’m still yelling at him “let me see your hands, get out of the vehicle, let me see your hands, get out of the vehicle, get on the ground” and he keeps yelling back at me all kinds of stuff. To be brutally honest, my wife when she talks about it, I’m hearing him yelling at me obscenities, and my wife saying I don’t think he was swearing. It’s like the fog of war. What I do know was that he was non-compliant. He was resisting getting out of the vehicle; I will say that the initial presentation of the firearm and the initial commands did the trick, the main objective was to cease the potential deadly attack on that victim. So, as soon as he disengaged and turned 180 degrees, step one box was checked. But now, now I’m in this spot where I’ve got this angry, amped up guy and I didn’t know if he had a weapon and I was mentally preparing myself for him to rush me – that was my first gut feeling this guy was trying to do because he was talking smack to me as I am yelling commands with the gun and I was thinking to myself, briefly, is this guy trying to work up the courage to rush me from the car? I was like, hmm, after probably 30 seconds of us going back and forth he finally complied. He was slow, he was still talking a whole bunch of stuff but he finally exited the vehicle and slowly went to knees and slowly prone down on the street.
B: And this is all before police arrived, right?
A: Oh yeah, I mean, police were 2-3 minutes out from initial contact. And so, he’s prone down on the street, the lady’s still screaming hysterically in the vehicle, crying and whaling and what not, and my wife’s still on the phone with 911 and I still got him, I am up on target and it was kind of a unique situation; I didn’t know, I’ve got a handful of credentials but in that capacity I am functioning as a CHL holder, I am not functioning as a licensed personal protection officer which I am in Texas, I’m not functioning as a licensed armed security guard which I also am in Texas.
B: Oh wow, because I’ve seen your..in a few articles they reference military background so I knew you weren’t new to firearms so you have had extensive training.
B: So when you were, I don’t mean to cut you off here, but this leads into one question that I had: When you first drew your firearm and you were in the thick of this, it doesn’t sounds like you .. you didn’t have that tunnel vision; you were aware of what was beyond your target, you were describing the building back there and the barriers that were up, the victim as well as your wife being out of the line of fire, I mean your training kicked in when you got into this, is that right?
A: Yeah, so that’s the only thing, it’s a unique thing to discuss. We’ll probably talk about it on Sunday, early in my career, I was in Iraq, I was there on and off for 3 years and I was in the army for 8 years – I have been in a handful of different things that I won’t necessarily discuss, no offense. Earlier in my life I have experienced that, where as soon I was under stress my hearing degraded my manual dexterity degraded I got tunnel vision it was like I was looking through a couple paper tunnel rolls. In hindsight I am very, very surprised that that did not happen. It’s one of the top things that I am like, wow, and the only thing I can attribute it to there are two thoughts: one is that I was proactively moving on him as opposed to him moving proactively moving on me or two, finally, all of the training and all of the muscle memory and all of the repetition on range and 20,000 plus rounds and over and over and over, maybe that I never trained for that type of scenario, you’ve got to kind of improvise, but maybe that was it, maybe all the training tempered that a little bit and made it a little bit more comfortable
B: So shortly after that the police…
A: He was prone, he was on the ground, wife was telling me the cops were coming, he was very, very, like I said in the article the dude was obsessed with the firearm. He goes “don’t shoot me, bro, don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me” mixed in there was “don’t point that thing at me, don’t point that thing at me”, he was kind of saying it with a kind of aggression, with an aggressive tone. So at that moment, alright the guy is prone down on the ground his hands are clear, he had on athletic wear, I didn’t see any firearm, he had on a t-shirt and basketball shorts…he had shorts on. So the threat or the perception of the threat was decreased at that time and I was sensing his insecurity and his hesitation and it was just a very chaotic scene, she was still screaming and if you counted all the vehicles and all the people who exited the surrounding buildings and exited their cars there were easily 100 people who were within 100 yards of the scene that were watching, listening or both. So it was crazy so I thought I got to try to take this down just a little bit I heard the sirens wail in the distance and I told him, I mean initially when I came around the vehicle my finger was on the trigger and there was this thought that maybe this guy had a knife because of the way he was moving on her and the way she was screaming but that became apparent almost immediately it wasn’t the case but it was kind of a “do I put my finger on the trigger or do I just stay on the trigger index?” It is something for discussion. In hindsight, I probably should have just stayed on trigger index, but I think it’s kind of a force of habit to come out of concealment and go automatically to target and trigger – with all the training and all the hours it’s just be muscle memory, in my opinion. In hindsight its negligible but he was on the ground and I did have my finger on the trigger index at that point but I was still fully extended and I told him “hey, if you relax, calm down, just chill out, the cops are on the way, they’ll sort all this out, I’ll take my finger off the trigger” you couldn’t tell with the angle we were on whether I had my finger on the trigger or not and it was apparent to me that he couldn’t and I told him “I’ll take my finger off the trigger if you calm down” and he was still talking smack and so I thought, I lowered my firearm and I canted it to the left and also tilted the barrel down towards the roadway so he could see the right side of the firearm and I said “look, look, look at my hand do you see my finger my finger is on this trigger index right here my finger is not on the trigger, you just need to calm down and relax” and he was like “don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me.” I said “look, you see my finger, I’m not going to shoot you, I’m not going to shoot you by accident.” He was really worried about that. Once I showed him and once he took a solid look, I turned the firearm back into normal position and that took the tension down a few degrees and not too long after that the law enforcement turned up en mass. And at that point it was, again a situation I’ve never been in before – I’ve never been on that side of a law enforcement gun before. The only thing I could come up with was, well I need to look as least-threatening as possible. So that was to move into a compressed ready position with my finger on the trigger index. I didn’t want to move suddenly, I didn’t want to come off the gun, it was chamberd loaded, just seemed odd to me, again people can argue “you should have done this, you should have done that,” and you know I did what I did. I compressed it, the firearm, and the officers that were approaching from my right side, in their vehicle they’ve got the clearest view and I really hoped that they see the position I’m in and that they see it as a legitimate, professional position to be in with a firearm and see my finger on the trigger index and realize what this high compressed ready position is and see me for, for a lack of better words, see me for the professional that I am. And then the police officers that came around from my left side… I glanced over my left shoulder real briefly and out of my peripheral vision I saw them pull up and stop and they exited the vehicle and they come up and draw on me and made a bunch of commands “don’t move, drop your weapon, hands up, get on the ground” normal, standard fare and the only thing I could muster to those guys was, “I am a CHL holder,” that was the only thing I could say. It was very, very nerve wracking. So that was it, I said that one phrase, I recognized that he heard me, at least one of the officers on my left side did, and I slowly went from high-compression to bending over and putting my firearm on the street, my hands up, it’s all in the video I think…
B: Yeah I am watching actually watching that part as you’re going through this…
A: Yeah, so I thought I’ll just do what I’m told and try to remain calm and non-threatening and so I laid down on the street and they came to me, they cuffed me, I was in cuffs for 10 to 15 minutes and they ran all my credentials and gathered some information from witnesses and the victim and came over and took the cuffs off and had me stick around – I had to write a report, my wife had to, too. And a little over half an hour after the entire thing, I got the firearm back on scene and before we left I went and asked if we could say hi to the victim and went and talked to her for a brief moment and we shared a hug and she seemed really appreciative.
B: Yeah, that was a nice gesture.
A: It was some closure for me.
B: If you don’t mind me asking, what type of firearm did you carry?
A: Both my wife and I carry the Heckler and Koch 45 Compact
B: Oh that was one of my other questions, if she carries as well.
A: Yeah she’s a CHL holder, she got the same firearm. I did a little interview on the radio on the AM channel here locally and the guys were joking about my wife saying I should have sent her out since she was closer to the assailant.
B: Now, she wasn’t carrying that day, was she?
A: No, and she wouldn’t, you know this situation is a once in a lifetime situation – extremely unique – and I see on some of these comments on some of this stuff, “[inaudible]” that was not the case. If it was, if the guy was still seatbelted and I saw him shove a female in the seat, you know, I would stop or do a U-turn around, I would call 911 and I would probably sit and observe, report, and be on the phone with 911 and if it escalated to a point where I think an intervention was needed for the other person’s well being then so be it, and the response would have matched the incident. It’s hard to kind of portray what my wife and I saw, it really is, the easiest way for me to describe it is imagine a UFC fighter, a 200 pound guy, he has a woman on the mat partially defending herself and the guy is just raining elbows down as fast and as hard as he can. That wouldn’t fly in UFC for numerous reasons, we all know that strikes to the head and neck especially with an elbow in many circles is considered deadly force. The conditions at the time required the escalation but there’s another thought: I have the firearm on my hip, I get out of the vehicle, and I go hands on without the firearm to … what happens then? Now an enraged guy, I don’t know whether he has a weapon or not, I don’t know what his fighting skill set is, I don’t know how fit he is, I don’t exactly know how skilled he is.
B: Right, he could be on drugs.
A: Yea he could be on PCP, so I go to the door and what do I do? I put him in a headlock, a joint lock, drag him out of the vehicle… now I’m in
suburbia on a three lane road having a throw down with a dude I don’t know, in conditions I can’t control. It doesn’t make any rational sense to me. So in that scenario the most immediate threat was stopped in the most most efficient, fastest way. Everybody lived to talk about it, the suspect went to jail and we did not finish our movie date, but we went home. I did not lose any sleep.
B: Did you make up a date yet or is that at another time?
A: No, no, we ended up seeing the movie on Sunday. So, after the incident we sat, we relaxed for a few minutes, let a little of the adrenaline wear off a little bit – my right knee was bouncing a little bit. We ended up going and grabbing some Ecuadorian cuisine not too far from the house and then went home to relax; it was a bit surreal.
B: I’m not sure if you’d be able to answer this question but since this happened, has your wife given her perspective of what happened and, if that’s the case you don’t have to go into detail with it, but did she happen to say what was going through her mind when you got out of the car and as this was happening?
A: You know…
B: I know that’s an open ended question but…
A: Yeah, no, it’s a fair question. My wife handled the entire incident really really well I am just…elated, overjoyed at how she handled the situation. She called 911, she maintained her head, she wasn’t overly emotional, panicked. When we first pulled up on the car the only thing I can consciously remember her telling me was “I think that guy’s trying to kill the lady. I’m calling 911” and during the incident she was saying out the window “I’m still on the phone with 911, the police officers are on the way, they will be here any moment,” that kind of thing.
B: I think it’s one of those questions that everybody has and I find myself in the back of my mind, when you’re out with friends, for example, if something were to happen, how would you react how would they react because nobody knows 100 percent how anyone, including themselves, is going to react in a situation like that. But this is a good lead into the last question here and, again, with no one really understanding what their bodies are going to do during something like this, their minds, their vision, hearing, everything, after being in this situation, including all of your background, all of the training involved, do you have any advice to give to other people who carry a firearm?
A: One of the things I am trying to put out there, you know, I don’t know how it is where you live, here in Texas, the state course used to be 11 hours with a majority of it classroom time with a simple marksmanship and written exam and now its 4-6 hours with a simple marksmanship exam and a written exam, but the expectation is that before a person gets a CHL, the person is proficient with a firearm, but in many cases that’s just not the reality.
And I think a lot of people think,”well, I’ll just go to a CHL course and I’m going to learn how to handle my firearm,” and this is something near and dear to my heart. I know individuals, I won’t say by name, that have a CHL that need training, that need more confidence, that need more proficiency and need to be challenged and, with some individuals, I think to myself that, gosh, if I’m ever in an environment where let’s say I’m in a restaurant and some knucklehead decided to pull out a gun and shoot up the joint, there are only a handful of people I would trust to be next to me or with me to handle that situation and engage the threat and handle business. There are other people that I think, just (expletive), you draw out a firearm, I might be best served just covering up myself and covering up my vital organs and waiting until this thing… until something else
happens. I just really want people to…I think the takeaway from this is, hey, this guy did this, it’s a unique, once in a lifetime thing, it was a serious assault that required that level of intensity and after 21 years I’ve got 2000 hours worth of time. Could I have done it with 1000? Maybe, sure. Could I have done it right out of a CHL course? Maybe..but I think as CHL holders, all of us have moral, ethical, professional, and personal responsibility to constantly improve and maintain skills and competency and comfort and because that’s just, in my opinion, that’s the only way to do it. You’ve got a responsibility to yourself, to the perpetrator, to the victim, to the bystanders, to law enforcement. I’m a Christian guy. God forbid, a situation comes up where I have to draw a firearm and engage somebody and kill them, I have to live with that and deal with that between me and God. It’s a heavy burden.
A: I think…I don’t know just… train, train, train, just get as much diverse training as you can, and run scenarios and surround yourself with professionals and try and absorb what you can, be humble.
B: And you’re doing it the right way, and I love to hear that you are continuously taking courses and things like that because that’s where you’re right – a lot of people lack in that area and I see people leave comments like “I don’t need to go to the range as much as everyone says that I do, I can hit the paper” … and, you know, they can be the best shot in the world but once you’re under that stress that 99.9 percent of people involved in something like that won’t ever be under again in their lives and haven’t before that… it’s a whole other ball game but I’m not even familiar with that, I’ve never had to do what you did and I hope I never have to do it. But the training man, I am so happy you’re on that side of the spectrum with taking it seriously because it is a big thing. Well I can let you go… Aaron, I appreciate it very much, taking the time, especially on New Year’s eve.
A: Alright, sounds good.
B: Alright, awesome. Have a Happy New Year!
A: Alright, you do the same.
B: Alright man, thanks again for letting me call.
A: Oh anytime, you take it easy.
Full Interview Audio:
Disclaimer: The audio recording is poor and did not come out as expected. While you are able to hear the call, the distortion is very problematic.