Making the Decision to Intervene in a Crime

Have you ever been confronted with a decision as to whether or not you would place yourself in the middle of a dangerous situation in order to stop a criminal?  Are you one to try and break up a fight, tackle a fleeing shoplifter, or confront a person who was acting suspiciously?  There usually is not time in such moments to evaluate your own safety and weigh all of the possible consequences.  You just act on instinct.  For one man in New Orleans, this desire to do good cost him his life.

Harry “Mike” Ainsworth was waiting with his two young sons at their bus stop on Wednesday when he witnessed a carjacking take place.  A woman was ordered out of her car at gunpoint in their New Orleans community.  Ainsworth took action, jumping on the hood of the vehicle to stop the would-be car thief from getting away.  The carjacker shot Ainsworth and fled on foot, leaving the dad to die with his boys by his side.  Ainsworth’s killer is now being sought by police.  The woman who owned the car was unharmed.

I want to think that if I saw a fellow human in danger, I would intervene in the best way possible.  I’m not sure what that would have meant in this particular situation.  We’ll never know what was going through Mr. Ainsworth’s mind when he decided to place himself in front of someone with a gun.  Maybe he believed the man posed a threat to his kids.  Perhaps he simply was irate at the notion of this crime taking place in his neighborhood.  Whatever his reasoning may have been, it is horrible that his murder was witnessed by his children and that these boys lost their father in one tragic and senseless moment.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Ainsworth’s family and friends.

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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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10 Responses to Making the Decision to Intervene in a Crime

  1. donnagalanti says:

    I am thankful I’ve never been in that situation and what a horrible story – that the father, a hero, had to die. It makes one think about what you would do in that situation. Honestly, as a mother I just don’t know if I would put myself in harm’s way as I would be afraid to leave my son motherless.


  2. This is a really sad story – however I feel we have to give the man credit for such a brave action. I think to be fair I couldn’t do what he did. Even though he died in the course of his actions, he died a hero and we should salute him for that.
    My prayers go out to his family.


  3. jack durish says:

    I have done many things in my life that seem inexplicable to most people, and I never found the words to explain until I began reading the works of Louis L’Amour. Why did the stranger stay in town to rid it of the outlaws? He could have simply ridden on and left them to their own troubles. That was a common theme throughout all of his books and short stories that I sensed but didn’t understand until I read one of the books he recommended in his autobiography, The Education of a Wandering Man – Plutarch’s Selected Lives. The first life in that book was that of Perseus. When asked why he chose to go in harm’s way to rid the countryside of criminals, he replied, “If not men of good will, then who?”

    I found my words in that story.


  4. I appreciate all the comments on this story. It’s one of those instances that we really don’t know what we would do — until confronted. Even police officers who are trained to respond accordingly sometimes don’t always react in the exact way they were trained. There are so many unsung heroes out there. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I were the one being car jacked at gunpoint and this man who I didn’t know jumped in to help.


  5. Mike McNeff says:

    Mr. Ainsworth is a hero and I am saddened by his death. My heart goes out to his family, especially his sons.


  6. jvonbargen says:

    Oh, that’s terrible for that poor family! I can say I’ve done it once (jumped in front of a gun), and looking back, it was a terribly risky thing to do, but I was trying to protect a friend. Thankfully it turned out well. I’m not quite as impulsive these days, but you really, really don’t know how you’re gonna react to a situation til you’re in it. The gut instinct, though, is always to help. You don’t even question it. It is sure a conundrum, though, as you say.


  7. Jennifer, I have never stepped in front of a gun, although I have intervened in some situations that had a potential for violence. In those circumstances, I think the person simply acts on impulse, the impulse to help a person in trouble.

    Mr. Ainsworth acted as we all wish we could in such a situation. But you never know ’til you’re there.


  8. miq says:

    What a heartbreaking story.


  9. Caleb Pirtle says:

    We all think we would intervene to stop a crime but you never know until faced with a deadly situation. My admiration goes out to the ones who stood tall when the conflict threatened them or those around them. Heroes are created by instinct and values and guts, the thoughts they have for others instead of themselves.


  10. Pingback: Shooting of Florida Teenager Raises Disturbing Questions about Vigilante Justice | Author Jennifer Chase

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