Last week, we sent an email with a story about why it is so important to have a legal plan for the aftermath of a self defense encounter. This week we will be talking about a horrible situation involving two young girls shot in a road rage encounter.

This story is tough to believe. But the way it starts is all too common. Two drivers take offense at the other’s driving, which leads to brake checking, swerving, obscene gestures, thrown objects and ultimately gunfire. 

William Hale and Frank Allison were involved in a road rage incident in north Florida on October 8th, 2022, that ended with both men shooting each other’s daughters.  

We will probably never learn exactly what started the confrontation between these two men, but witnesses say that both drivers were driving erratically, chasing each other, trying to get in front of each other.  We do have a witness statement that at one point one driver flipped off the other. Then an object was thrown. That escalated to a gunshot from one driver, which hit a 5 year old girl in the leg. The other driver then fired multiple rounds at the other vehicle, striking a 14 year old girl in the back.

Both drivers pulled over near a deputy who was already stopped on the side of the highway and then began fist fighting until the deputy broke up the fight.  Both girls who were shot survived, one with a collapsed lung.  Both drivers are now charged with attempted murder.

What can we learn from this incident as responsible gun owners and self defenders?  The first lesson I take from this act of stupidity is that we have to remember that our actions have the potential to affect more than just ourselves.  Both of these men acted selfishly and their children paid the price.  

The second lesson is that what may seem like self defense to you can easily be read as escalation to your opponent.  I’m sure both of these men felt like the other driver was escalating the confrontation, while in reality both of them repeatedly increased the intensity and stakes of the fight.  Either one of these guys could have stopped this confrontation by refusing to continue, but both of them chose the wrong options.  And from the reports, it wasn’t just the men driving, at least one passenger engaged in the escalation as well. 

The third lesson from this story is that when you hold the power of life and death in your hands, the consequences for wrong actions are extreme.  Both of these dads not only caused life changing injuries to their children, but both of them now face legal consequences that will affect them for the rest of their lives.  In addition, there will be life changing financial impacts for both of them.  Both will lose their jobs, both will have serious criminal records even if they don’t get convicted.  Both will have trouble getting jobs in the future, qualifying for loans, for insurance, Whether or not they accept responsibility, both will live with the knowledge that they put their child in life threatening danger over something so idiotic that it defies belief.  

This story reminds me of another road rage tragedy from 2013, in which two Michigan men, both with Concealed Carry Permits, shot and killed each other.  James Pullum, 43, and Robert Taylor, 56, escalated from tailgating to murder within a few moments.  I’d be willing to bet that both men probably felt like they were in the right for defending themselves, and both are now dead.

When we cover when it is appropriate to use deadly force in our Free Concealed Carry classes, we discuss the concept of Could versus Should.  It is important we don’t focus on asking when “can” we shoot, we instead ask, when “should” we shoot.  The defensive mindset includes understanding what is truly at risk when a confrontation starts, and doing everything we can to deescalate an encounter.  If deescalation is ultimately not possible, we may find ourselves in a position where we have to resort to deadly force to protect ourselves.  Road rage is a common example of people losing sight of what is most important, and this story is no exception.

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