Recently, a 61-year-old California man named Robert H. walked into Allegro Pizza with his dog.
But he wasn’t there to pick up a pie.
Instead, in a bizarre turn of events, Robert began chasing an employee with a knife and lighter fluid, trying to set the employee on fire.
At first, the employee didn’t realize what had occurred.
One of the employees said, “He thought it was a joke. He thought it was water. When he smelled the gasoline (lighter fluid) that was when he reacted.”
After being soaked with lighter fluid the employee ran out a back door.
Robert pursued the employee while holding a large knife. Once in the parking lot, a bystander intervened.
The bystander was also doused with lighter fluid but was able to fight back. He knocked Robert to the ground, knocking him unconscious.
A witness said, “I just pulled up, and the guy just got knocked out.”
Robert was arrested and charged with two counts of assault, two counts of assault with a chemical, and attempted murder.
Witnesses said Robert entered other businesses in the area including a nail salon and also doused customers with lighter fluid.
Unfortunately, bizarre crimes like this are all too common. Victims of these types of crimes could easily be killed or face life-long injuries.
And, while it’s true that using fire as a weapon is nothing new, it’s not something you would expect from an average street criminal.
But that seems to be changing these days…
So, here are a few things you can do to protect yourself against someone who’s using fire as a weapon.
Distance is (of course) your best friend:
Fire is a close-range weapon.
So, if someone is trying to douse you in lighter fluid or gasoline you obviously want to get as far away from them as possible.
If you get out of range, they won’t be able to continue to hit you with the liquid or ignite it.
Obviously, you want to get away as fast as you can.
Even if you are only 30 feet away it is likely far enough to make their attack useless.
If you can’t get away, put as many barriers between you and the threat as possible.
For example, it’s harder to douse you in gas if you are standing behind a car.
I realize I said to run away but hear me out…
If you can’t get away from the person trying to use fire against you, then as a last resort you want to get right up on them.
If they douse you with gasoline you can try to get some of the gas on them.
The hope is that they won’t keep pouring gas on you if it’s also getting on them.
Plus, they likely won’t ignite the flammable if they are also at risk.
If they have gas on their hands and use a lighter, there is a chance they set themselves on fire.
So, if you can’t run away you want to fight back and get physical with them. Make sure they are covered by the flammable just as much as you are.
Some people are mentally unhinged enough to light themselves up, so this should be an extreme last resort.
If someone is trying to use fire against you it might be tough to draw a gun and shoot. Your hand might be wet, and it could be hard to get a good grip.
In a situation like this, it could be more effective to use a knife or tactical pen to stop the attacker.
Also, if the bad guy is spraying flammable liquid everywhere, firing your gun could accidentally start a fire or torch an innocent person.
A knife or a tactical pen (I always carry both on me) is going to be best for close quarters – the range where you’ll be if someone’s close enough to douse you.
Finally, if you are the victim of an attack using fire, remember what you learned as a kid.
Stop, drop, and roll. And use blankets, water, or a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.