My close friend (and photographer) was held up at gunpoint just outside of downtown Davis last Saturday night. Here’s how it all went down.
I had spent the weekend camping with my wife and some close friends at the American River in Coloma. It’s a trip that we all take together every year – and this year it happened to coincide with the .
I was determined to cover the event on Davis Patch, so I called upon my brother and his girlfriend, both of whom know a bunch about music and are more than qualified to capture this kind of festival. I left them my tickets, press pass and a few business cards, and then I hit the road.
My phone had no reception at the campground, so I happily turned it off and enjoyed my surroundings from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon.
When I turned my phone on after leaving the campsite, I had two messages from my friend John. One was left at 12:13 on Sunday morning and the other was made 13-minutes later, at 12:36.
Apparently, my brother and his girlfriend had called upon John to join them at the Music Festival. He owns a very nice camera and takes great photos.
The first message was a casual one – he informed me that he had just spent his Saturday evening doing my job for me, sarcastically expressing that he hoped I had a good time kicking back next to the river all weekend. He said he was walking home and that he would talk to me later.
Thirteen (action-packed) minutes later, he left the following message:
“Hey Justin, just thought I’d fill you in. On my walk home from covering and trying to take pictures of your music festival, someone tried to rob me at gunpoint, which I fought off and got the cops coming and they’re trying to take care of it at the moment. So, nothing was stolen from me … I told him 'no' and shrugged him off. So yeah, anyway, someone tried to rob me at gunpoint and the cops are circling around and trying to find him. Anyway, I thought that would be a funny story for you for the Patch.”
I’m not sure funny is the adjective I would use to describe it, but he’s right that it’s a story worth telling.
I asked police if they found the guy, and Lt. Paul Doroshov informed me that they had not. The incident took place at the corner of 6th and D Street, just outside of downtown.
I sat down with John on Wednesday to ask him how it all went down, and what motivated him to "shrug off" a guy with a gun pointed at him.
John said he had just hung up after leaving me that first message. His phone was in his pocket. It's worth noting that he had a $1,000 camera around his neck and another expensive lens in his other pocket.
At the corner of 6th and D Streets, someone pulled on his shoulder and said, “Give me your phone!” He looked up to find the guy pointing a gun at his face.
His automatic reaction – possibly because he had ended his night with a couple of Crown Royals – was to say “no,” at which point the guy again demanded the phone. John noticed that the gun was no longer pointing at his face. It was pointing downward – still toward his body, but in a less confident way.
“No,” John said again. “I'm not in the mood for this s***. Go mess with somebody else.”
The guy reached at John’s pocket (for his phone) and John knocked his hand away, at which point the guy took off running. John immediately called police, and they arrived less than one minute later.
Quite honestly, this whole story is crazy to me. I talked to John; he realizes the smart thing to do would have been to just hand over his phone and hope for the best.
It’s possible the gun was fake, or not loaded, but since you’re gambling with your life, it’s probably not wise to roll the dice. But before you go branding him as an idiot, I do think it’s worth looking at the details of the situation.
John said that something about the guy’s demeanor or presence just didn’t seem confidently criminal. His vibe was much more down-and-out than it was threatening.
The fact that the guy asked for his pocketed phone rather than his readily available Digital SLR camera was also a sign that the guy wasn't too savvy.
The reason he told the guy to go mess with somebody else wasn't because he wanted somebody else to stare down the barrel of a gun; he just wanted a chance to call cops so that the guy could be scared off by the lights and sirens -- or get caught.
John’s initial refusal might have been instinct, but as he watched the guy lower the weapon, he probably became progressively surer of his safety, prompting him to stand his ground further.
John also admits that the Crown Royal probably played a relaxant role in the situation. He wasn't drunk by any means, but he wasn't alcohol free either.
He knows he should have just handed over the phone, but for whatever reason, he didn’t. And he came out of the situation with his iPhone, his camera and his life intact. And a hell of a story.
To read more about the attempted robber’s descriptions and other details, .