El Dorado Hills is a town just five minutes from my house, my son goes to preschool there. It’s a beautiful, friendly town with a gorgeous and thriving town center. But none of that matters because what happened on Tuesday night could have happened anywhere.
On Tuesday, two friends, Khrista and Kesha, went out to dinner and drinks to celebrate their birthdays at 36 Handles. I’ve been to MNOs at 36 Handles, I’ve had lunch with my kids there, and I’ve been there with my hubby and his friends. It’s a great place with amazing food. I imagine these ladies got caught up talking like any of us would have done with a dear friend while celebrating our birthdays. At midnight the bar was closing and the women walked out to their cars. These friends were confronted by a felon with a gun who demanded money and their cars. He shot Khrista in front of her friend. This victim could have been me and any one of my friends. It could have happened to you. These women didn’t put themselves into a dangerous situation. They were trying to celebrate life, literally.
That man wasn’t from here, it appears that he was passing through when his stolen car broke down. He needed a car and saw a parking lot. After he killed Khrista, he took her car and crashed it just a few minutes down the road. This warm and friendly community came to his aid, not knowing what he had just done. They saw someone in need and helped. Thankfully he is in custody now while the police are working to put all the pieces together.
I am sad for Khrista’s family, a life taken way too soon. But I can’t imagine what Kesha must be going through. If it was me I would be racking my brain and wondering how this could have happened. She’s also mourning the loss of a dear friend, whose life she just celebrated. It breaks my heart, this is so close to home. I’ve walked, by myself, to my car in that parking lot at that same time of night and got in my car and drove away and never thought twice about it.
Personal safety is partially why so many families choose to live in our area, El Dorado Hills hasn’t had a homicide in 4 1/2 years. Unfortunately, violence and crime can happen anywhere. In the last few weeks our peaceful little town has had some seriously scary stuff happening like a home invasion and robbery during the day where a woman was tied up in her own home. It’s time to realize that no matter where we are we need to be thinking about safety. When you do your weekly grocery shopping with your kids in tow, while you are walking to your car with your noisy cart and kids asking questions and you’re running through your day in your head and wondering if you remembered to get milk, are you aware of your surroundings? Did you notice the man that was always 25 feet away from you while you were in the store? I’m not trying to scare you, I’m just trying to point out something that was brought to my attention when I hosted the self-defense course with Hector last fall. Because we all need a refresher to be more aware, I reached out to security expert, Hector, and asked him to give us some information to keep us all safe.
Hector’s Five Strategies that May Save your Life
- Beware of Change – Whether it’s a car in your neighborhood you don’t recognize, a weird sound around the corner or a person that you know, changes in your surroundings should be a warning sign to pay attention. You know the most about your environment – listen to that little voice! Thousands of victims have said they knew something was wrong before it happened, but they didn’t listen to the warning signs, don’t let it happen to you.
- Make Yourself an Unattractive Target – There is really no such thing as “random violence,” it just feels random to us, the criminals have a very specific reason for picking their targets. Criminals generally want three things – to easily take something from you that you don’t want to give, for it to be valuable to them and lastly, they don’t want to get caught. Disrupt just one of these three and you have a greater chance of not being picked in the first place! Walk with confidence, put the cellphone down and pay attention! Be discrete with your valuables. And if you’re ever confronted make a lot of noise, honk your horn, scream, make it uncomfortable for the bad guy.
- “No” is a Complete Sentence – Don’t compromise your safety because you’re being polite. If you have to repeat yourself, no matter how nice the person you’re dealing with seems, it’s time to get ready…”I SAID NO!”
- Believe in Yourself – No amount of self-defense training, weapons, sprays or sticks will do you any good if you are not mentally prepared. Fortunately, right now, YOU have all the ability to defend yourself against a violent attack no matter how much training you have (or don’t have). Imagine your reaction if you turned a corner and saw somebody attacking an infant – you would most likely get angry and react violently without hesitation to protect the child. That same emotion is within you at all times and will give you the strength to overcome an attacker, but you have to accept your own strength.
- Move! The fight or flight reaction doesn’t always kick in during extreme situations. For some people, mainly the ones who haven’t mentally prepared for even the possibility of a violent confrontation, they just freeze. If something bad happens work to place as much Time, Distance and Material between you and the violence. Run away, lock doors, climb out a window or barricade yourself in a room….just MOVE!
My heart and prayers go out to Kesha and to Khrista’s family and friends. They have painted a picture of a beautiful, vibrant woman who had a huge heart and true lust for life. The type of person that brings a smile to everyone she came across. So sad.
Special thank you to Hector for imparting his wisdom. You can like Violence Prevention Academy on Facebook for more ways to stay safe.
A little more about Hector:
Hector Alvarez has personally managed and responded to hundreds of potentially violent situations and has trained thousands of people providing potential life saving tips and strategies. Having been both a security director for a major national critical infrastructure and a city police officer, Hector Alvarez has built over 25 years of experience in the field of violence prevention. For 15 years he directed cutting edge security programs focused specifically on preventing and responding to “active violence” in private sector environments. He has also witnessed the collapse of civil order first-hand as a responder to both the Loma Prieta Earthquake and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Learn more about Hector at Alvarez&Associates.com.