We all know about the basic five senses, but what about that sixth sense instilled in every living creature? You know the one I’m talking about. That sense that we rely on more than anything, and most people ignore… that gut feeling.  Listening to that one sense can really be a matter of life and death, and often times it all starts with a look.  I am reminded of a pedestrian check I performed one afternoon in February 2012.

I was sitting roadside watching traffic pass by just waiting for the one car that really stood out, but this time it wasn’t a vehicle that caught my attention.  Instead it was the guy carrying a backpack that stared just a little too long, and moved his bag to the opposite shoulder as he walked past the front of my patrol car.

Being the inquisitive officer I was, I exited my patrol car and called out for him to stop.  I got the typical response.  “Who, me?”

Immediately upon approaching this guy I got the sinking feeling that something just wasn’t right.  I wasn’t sure what it was, but I was damn sure going to find out.

As I am asking him the usual ped check questions, the answers were all vague as can be.  And with each passing second, he was clutching the strap on the bag tighter and tighter.

I went about getting consent to look in the bag, and that’s when it all came out.  Once that bag opened, so did his mouth.

As it turned out, this particular guy was on his way to torture and ultimately murder his pregnant ex-girlfriend as well as the people she was living with.  He was planning to set fire to the house when he was done.

Based on what was in the bag, this guy was more than ready to carry out his plan. Inside the bag he had the following:

  • A hammer and screwdriver for forcing entry
  • Two knives
  • Four lengths of rope
  • Rubber bands and tubing to stop bleeding and prolong torture
  • Two Molotov cocktails and a lighter

In this case, it was a look that grabbed my attention and gave me that gut feeling, but it can be any number of behaviors that trigger our most primitive sense.  The moral of this story is to trust that basic survival instinct we are all born with because there’s a reason you have it.  You just might save some lives, including you own.

I’m curious what you’ve come across, or avoided by trusting that gut feeling you got while working the road.  Please share in the comments and pass this along.

Brandon Smithley is a military veteran and former emergency responder with more than 14 years of experience in law enforcement and fire service.  Brandon is the Founder and CEO of Jody’s Meat in St. Louis. Additionally,  he handles business development for U.S. Veterans Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps veterans enjoy the outdoors through hunting and fishing trips.