One man, one gun, and 100 lives saved

An off-duty SAS Marine enjoying a coffee saved 100 lives during the Kenya attack that killed upwards of 70 people

According to reports, the siege at the Westgage Mall in Nairobi has ended. Credit for the attack — a Junior Varsity version of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s multiple-target, multiple-team, swarm-style, three-day assault on Mumbai in 2008 — has been claimed by al Shabaab.

Five terrorists are reportedly dead, and 11 suspects are apparently in custody.

Sixty-one civilians and six soldiers died in the attack.

What might we discuss today?

I could talk about Shabaab’s relevance. Shabaab has recruited (uh, kidnapped) numerous American citizens — the headlines say they’re mostly from the Saint Paul (Minn.) area, but that’s a gross oversimplification — for fighting both over there and over here.

I could talk about the need to connect with — in a meaningful, tactical way — the security and facilities personnel at the malls, schools, hospitals, and other “soft targets” in your patrol area. 

I could talk about the response of the Kenyan military and police forces that ended the siege.

I could, but I won’t.

Today, I choose to talk about one man.


According to The Daily Mail, one man — an off-duty (or retired, depending on which report you choose) SAS Marine with a handgun was “having coffee at Westgate mall when it was attacked on Saturday” and returned to the building “a dozen times despite intense gunfire” and “saved 100 lives as terrorists ran amok.” 

Today’s tip is blood simple. Prepare. Practice. Prevail.

We are Warriors. Warriors defend innocents from of evil. Warriors run into the fire. Warriors are not fearless, but we have the courage of ten thousand men. We do extraordinary things...

•    We Prepare — mentally, physically, emotionally, tactically, and spiritually — to do what needs to be done, when the time comes. And we know that time may be “off duty.”
•    We Practice — knowing that simply “qualifying” isn’t nearly enough — and we go above and beyond to become the best we can be in all things. And we never, ever stop learning. 
•    We Prevail — having prepared and practiced, we know we’re ready — over whatever opposition or obstacle we encounter... And if we fail, we’ll have been valiant in our attempt.

Twelve times into the fire.

I don’t know who he is. I don’t know if I’ll ever meet him or shake his hand.

I don’t know for certain that his ethos is directly aligned with this little list — although I’m pretty damned sure it is — but I do know that his actions in Nairobi are instructive to us all.

And I know for blood [bleeping] certain that those of us who are true warriors can see ourselves in him.

Be safe out there my brothers and sisters. 

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, responsible for providing police training content and expert analysis on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips. Doug is also responsible for planning and recording the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, as well as being the on-air host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug also works closely with the PoliceOne Academy to develop training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Doug regularly represents PoliceOne as a public speaker in a variety of forums and is available for media interviews — he has appeared on numerous local and national radio and television news programs, and has been quoted in a host of print publications. 

Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Contact Doug Wyllie

  1. Tags
  2. Investigations
  3. International Law Enforcement
  4. Mass Casualty Incidents

Recommended for you

Join the discussion

logo for print