Sunday's shooting of 55 year old Leslie Mills at a Flint Township gas station, an innocent victim of an attempted carjacking, poses many questions. The first one, "is anybody safe.... anywhere"? We asked Genesee County Undersheriff Chris Swanson and he said you should never take your safety for granted, no matter where you are.
"People need to stand up for themselves and look out for each other and protect each other," said Swanson "The bad guys don't follow rules."
Swanson says first and foremost be aware of your surroundings at all times. Second, travel in pairs or groups where possible, especially after dark. And most importantly, ask for help if you feel threatened. Locally businesses want their customers to feel safe, says Swanson. "If you have to go back in the store and say 'I'm nervous about going to my car can you help me'."?
But if awareness isn't enough one thing the undersheriff says is available to all drivers exiting their vehicles that many may not even realize they can use as a weapon, is their keys. "If you take out someone's eyesight a poke with the thumb or a key they're done they're incapacitated," he says.
The goal, says Swanson, is to create two things. The first is diversion, so the criminal is focused on their own discomfort rather than you. The second is distance, so you can take advantage of the diversion to get away. A good shot to the head, face or eyes with a set of keys will likely do just that.
Swanson also says some people get creative with their self defense items, carrying hat pins and even hornet spray. Whatever you carry he says people shouldn't live in fear, just be aware and prepared for anything.
"There's perpetrators out there and people that look for victims and if you're singled out as a victim you need to protect yourself," Swanson added.