NBC Advises Shoppers to Throw Groceries at Robbers, No Mention of Guns

In a report on Friday’s NBC Today about how people could defend themselves during a convenience store robbery, National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen and security expert Mykel Hawke suggested that shoppers should hurl groceries off the shelves at the armed criminals in an attempt to escape. The possibility of using a firearm for protection was never mentioned.

Introducing the segment, fill-in co-host Hoda Kotb warned: “This summer there’s been a rash of violent convenience store robberies across the country with customers caught in the middle.” Fellow co-host Matt Lauer followed: “So how do you protect yourself if you’re ever faced with a situation like that?”

 

 

Rossen began:

And we’ve all seen those videos, right? Some suspect walking into a convenience store, a coffee shop, a gas station, robbing the clerk at gunpoint, then some customer comes from behind and attacks the suspect. It looks brave, we’ve reported on it right here, and it is, but is it really what you’re supposed to do? This morning, the advice from law enforcement officials...

Hawke promised: “I’m going to teach you some tips today that could save your life.”

While the report began with standard advice of escaping the store or finding a place to hide and calling the police, it soon took a bizarre turn. Rossen imagined: “Worst-case scenario, last resort, you’ve done all that, he’s still agitated and you feel like he is right about to shoot you.” With the reporter pointing his hands like a gun at Hawke, the security expert explained: “Absolutely, if you think you have no other choice and you are about to be killed then you’ve got to try to escape. So what you do is you do something mental like, ‘Please, mister, don’t shoot,’ and then you set yourself up with, oh!”

In that moment, Hawke could be seen flinging a box of oatmeal packets from a nearby shelf at Rossen. The correspondent rightfully asked: “And then what?” Hawke simply replied: “And then you escape. Okay? So that’s it.”

That’s it?! Even Rossen seemed a little puzzled as to how such a feeble defense could prevent someone from being shot.

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At least NBC remained consistent in its pattern of never suggesting that people use a gun to defend themselves against a violent criminal. Within the past year, Rossen has had two separate reports on how to handle dangerous attackers. While looking at the threat of being mugged on the street, he touted cell phone apps as the best protection. In a segment about home invasions, he told homeowners, “don’t fight back.” During a 2014 report along the same lines, Rossen offered advice like spraying the intruder with bug spray or treating them “like royalty” as they robbed you.   

Friday’s crime-fighting tips were brought to viewers by Smuckers and Xfinity.  

Here are excerpts of the Rossen’s August 4 report:

8:17 AM ET

HODA KOTB: We have a new Rossen Reports for you now. This summer there’s been a rash of violent convenience store robberies across the country with customers caught in the middle.

MATT LAUER: So how do you protect yourself if you’re ever faced with a situation like that? Today National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen has more on it. Jeff, good morning to you.

KOTB: Hey, Jeff.  

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Customers Fighting Back; What Should You Do During a Store Robbery?]

JEFF ROSSEN: Hey, guys, good morning. New cases just this week of stores held up with customers inside. And we’ve all seen those videos, right? Some suspect walking into a convenience store, a coffee shop, a gas station, robbing the clerk at gunpoint, then some customer comes from behind and attacks the suspect. It looks brave, we’ve reported on it right here, and it is, but is it really what you’re supposed to do? This morning, the advice from law enforcement officials...

(...)

ROSSEN: I think about this whenever I walk into any store, what would I do in that situation, what am I supposed to do? Should I fight the guy and be the hero or run and hide? Well, good news, today we’re about to all learn together in this convenience store. We have Mykel Hawke here, former special forces officer, now you are a survival expert.

MYKEL HAWKE: That’s right, Jeff, and I’m going to teach you some tips today that could save your life.

(...)

HAWKE: If there’s a robbery, don’t try to be a hero, don’t try to fight, try to escape undetected if you can. Just remember, they’re probably just there to get money.

ROSSEN: So don’t make things more violent than they have to be.  

HAWKE: Absolutely.

ROSSEN: What if I can't escape? What if there’s an accomplice blocking another exit?

HAWKE: Glad you asked. You always have options. You can look for hiding places. For example, right here is a bathroom, you can go in the bathroom and hide, lock the door.

ROSSEN: I see there’s a freezer.

HAWKE: Yeah, absolutely .

ROSSEN: So anyplace where you can just run in and get out of the way, out of sight, out of mind.

HAWKE: Absolutely.

(...)

ROSSEN: But sometimes you can’t run or hide. He says if the gunman has you cornered, comply and hand over anything he wants.

ROSSEN [TO HAWK]: Worst-case scenario, last resort, you’ve done all that, he’s still agitated and you feel like he is right about to shoot you.

[ROSSEN POINTS HIS HANDS LIKE A GUN]

HAWKE: Absolutely, if you think you have no other choice and you are about to be killed then you’ve got to try to escape. So what you do is you do something mental like, “Please, mister, don’t shoot,” and then you set yourself up with, oh!

[HAWKE HURLS BOX OF OATMEAL PACKETS AT ROSSEN]

ROSSEN: And then what?

HAWKE: And then you escape. Okay? So that’s it. All I’m trying to do is distract you for a moment, give myself an opportunity to make a diversion and escape. That’s it.

(...)

KOTB: Good advice. Alright, thanks, Jeff.

LAUER: I see stories like that and I always think, what would I do in that situation?

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