On Scammers, The Elderly, and the Laws of Armed Self-Defense

William Brock Loletha Hall shooting

A recent tragedy in Ohio, where an elderly man under attack from online fraudsters killed an innocent woman, can teach us a lot. Not only do we not always know as much as we think we do about a situation, but when we start filling in the gaps and letting our imagination run wild, it can make everything much, much worse.

According to multiple news sources (here’s an AP article that provides a good rundown), the whole thing started with an attempt to scam and elderly man. It’s common for scammers to call older people and pretend to be family members, hoping that they find someone who’s gullible or with age-related mental difficulties. That makes it’s easier to convince them that they’re a family member.

When they got ahold of 81-year-old William Brock in Columbus, Ohio, they thought they’d struck gold. Pretending to be collecting bail money for a relative, they apparently thought he was ready to fork over $12,000 in cash. The scammers then sent an Uber driver, Loletha Hall, to pick up a package.

When the Uber driver showed up, Brock assumed that she was one of the scammers and confronted her with a revolver. He took her phone and when she tried to flee to her car, he shot her several times, killing her.

Other details surrounding the case are still pretty thin. The AP article mentions that investigators were asking the man about the $12,000 that he had sitting on his table. They also apparently talked to the scammers on Brock’s phone several times. The scammers attempted to impersonate police officers, hanging up when they realized they were talking to real cops.

Some Quick Takeaways

While we can’t know for sure what exactly happened here, it seems obvious that the guy was either initially falling for the scam (why else would he have $12,000 on his table?) or was hoping to take justice into his own hands. Or maybe it was some of both.

He thought he’d be able to capture one of the scammers and get them to tell him who the others were. But, what he didn’t know is that the scammers were somewhere else and that the woman showing up to his house was as innocent in the situation as he was.

Instead of trying to detain and interrogate the woman, Mr. Brock should have kept his door closed. If she had actually been a robber or one of the scammers, there’s no guarantee that a revolver is going to keep danger at bay. At that point, calling the police so they can sort out who she was would have likely ended in police determining she was innocent and no one would have been shot at all.

Instead, Brock committed aggravated assault against an innocent woman because he thought he knew what was going on. Then, when he went outside, his mistakes began to compound.

First off, he was holding the revolver one-handed and extending it toward her. If she had been an actual threat, he basically gave his gun away. Anyone thinking about carrying or keeping a gun for defensive purposes needs to learn at least the basics of retention. No, retention is not a feature of a holster. Like a safety, the only real retention feature is in your mind. No amount of spending on gear can make up for poor gun handling that makes the firearm easy to take.

Brock’s other mistake was thinking that it was acceptable to shoot her for trying to leave. Even if she were a real scammer, you can’t shoot someone unless they pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury. Some states give you a little bit of room for defending property, but not as much room as Brock took. She didn’t have any of his property. So, there was no justification for pulling the trigger, period.

Beyond his own mistakes, it’s also a good idea for family to warn elderly relatives about this kind of fraud. If anyone ever calls claiming to need cash for anything, they need to run it by someone else in the family first. If it doesn’t seem that they are capable of following that one rule, it sadly might be time to move them in or relocate them somewhere so they can be with people who can keep them out of trouble.

One thing is for sure here — the kind of scammer who preys on the elderly and the disabled is a sick person. It’s unlikely that they’ll get caught this time, but I’m sure readers are hoping that the bad karma they’ve racked up comes back to run them over at some point.

5 Responses

  1. Mr Brock is an example of how not to handle a situation.
    It seems, he was a walking time bomb.
    A shame an innocent person lost their life and for absolutely nothing.

  2. Elderly scams can be stopped cold if they just stopped answering calls from unknown numbers and stopped pretending they can safely use the Internet. Most twenty years olds can’t safely use the Internet as that demo is getting scammed at higher rates than the seniors are.

    Ed McMahon is dead and no women are going to pursue you online for sex. That covers 99% of the driving motivation behind answering those calls and playing on the Internet.

    1. “Ed McMahon is dead and no women’s are going to pursue you online for sex”. This actually left me speechless for a while. Very truthful……but at the same time sad that no woman is going to pursue me online for sex…..I am no women pursues me in real life for sex, but the internet was my last hope and you killed that dream. lol. What’s next? You going to tell me that penis enlargement cream doesn’t work either. Happy Monday to you too…..dream killer!!! LMFAO.

  3. Why aren’t the feds doing something useful like cracking down on these phone scams? It’s completely out of hand. Everyone keeps their old number after they move now, so legitimate out of area calls are very common these days.

    Ten years ago, a local person called my business saying a very aggressive telemarketer had called him using my phone number! I bet that scammer wasn’t even in my state. That’s federal jurisdiction. What have they been doing about it for the last ten years? Now someone is dead because of it. Sure they didn’t pull the trigger, but they basically terrorized that old man.

  4. That vid was hard to watch and I feel terrible for that poor woman’s friends and family.

    There is no “bottom” to stupidity. Thank goodness we have amazing technology that makes it more clear than ever…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *