Kristi McMains faced that very question on the evening of January 26, 2016, when she noticed that a man, John Ganobick, was following her through the mall food court. He then followed her into the mall elevator and then to the parking garage. Upon exiting the elevator, she ran to her car as Ganobick followed. However, Ganobick tackled her as she made entry in to her car, put his hand over her mouth, slammed her head into an unknown object, told her to give him all her money, and brandished a knife. Fearing rape and murder, Ms. McMains was able to reach into her purse, get her gun, a Beretta Tomcat 32, and shoot Ganobick in the neck and buttocks. This caused Ganobick to flee the scene. Ganobick was subsequently apprehended and charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and criminal mischief. Here is a link to the story and a video interview of Ms. McMains below.
Special Note: When Ms. McMains first pulled the trigger, the gun did not fire. So she kept on pulling the trigger until it did. In her own words:
“And the first time I pulled [the trigger], nothing happened. And he put his hand harder on my mouth and shoved the knife towards my face and then I shot again.”
Ladies please make sure your gun fires reliably with a QUALITY brand of ammo. The Tomcat is a double action/single action pistol which means that with the first pull of the trigger, the hammer is both cocked and is released. If the first hammer strike does not set off the round in the chamber, another pull on the trigger will produce a second hammer strike. When a round does not fire on the first strike of the hammer, but does on subsequent strike(s), this is usually because the primer was not seated properly and is likely what occurred in Ms. McMains’ case. By the way, the Tomcat would not be my first choice for a subcompact concealed carry pistol. A quality, subcompact semi-auto pistol you may want to consider is the Sig P238, chambered in.380 ACP. It is also a good idea to always keep your carry gun clean and sufficiently lubricated. For self-defense, use high quality, jacketed, hollow point ammunition (please check your local/state laws to see if you are permitted to use hollow point ammunition) such as Hornady Critical Defense.
And the first time I pulled [the trigger], nothing happened. And he put his hand harder on my mouth and shoved the knife towards my face and then I shot again.
Lessons to be learned
No one expects to come face-to-face with a violent stranger who stalks you in a very public place such as your local mall. And yet for Ms. McMains, this hypothetical scenario became a nightmarish reality. It could be a complete stranger, someone you know or someone from your past (ex-boyfriend, ex-husband, acquaintance, etc.). The point is, you never know who may intend to cause you harm, until the moment it happens. Will you be mentally and physically prepared? I sure hope so. But hoping is not enough.
The police were not there to save Ms. McMains in the terrifying moments she needed help. So the lesson we can all learn from Ms. McMains’ experience is that we must all take responsibility for our own safety. That begins with getting a quality firearm and training regularly and lawfully to use it.
Ms. McMains did a great job defending herself in a difficult and dangerous situation. However, there are two suggestions I would like to make for anyone facing a similar situation.
- Avoid potentially dangerous situations. If you suspect (always trust your gut) that someone is following you, immediately look for help in a well populated public area. Do not allow yourself to be trapped in an isolated location with your potential assailant…i.e. do not get in to an elevator with that person. Ms. McMains may have been able to avoid her dangerous encounter altogether had she simply gone to mall security, told them of her suspicions and then asked them to accompany her to her car. There is no shame or embarrassment in doing so. What would have been the outcome had Ms. McMains, been unable to get to her gun? It is just not worth the risk, even if you are carrying a gun.
- Keep your gun on your person (body) and not in your purse or car. Ms. McMains was very fortunate that she was able to get to her gun even though it was in her purse. Keeping your gun on your person should give you immediate access to it should you need it to thwart an attack. Also, maintain a safe distance away from anyone about whom you feel uncomfortable. Do not let them get close to you.
You can read more safety tips for women here.