I've never been mugged by an armed robber before. Sometimes I imagine being stuck up, and refusing to give away a valuable possession, like my laptop. After all, it's unlikely the cops will ever recover it, let alone investigate the crime, in a busy city like LA. And really, is the thief going to risk committing murder, and shoot me? I like to think I'd be brave, and refuse to give a bully what they want. However, once you're staring down the barrel of a gun in reality, it's much different than when you picture it in your imagination. There's a strong chance I would chicken out, and give the robber wha they want.
In Holland, Michigan, 31-year-old Jerad Kluting found himself in a terrifying situation. As he was walking home down his usual route, he noticed a man following him. In his mind, alarm bells went off, and his suspicions proved to be correct. The man covered his mouth his bandana, pointed a gun at him, and demanded he hand over his $1,700 Louis Vuitton bag.
Despite the threat to his life, Kluting refused to give in. "I wasn’t about ready to relinquish it to some thug that was going to demand it from me," Kluting told the local news station, WOOD-TV. "I paid $1,700 for it. I love Louis Vuitton."
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Kluting recalled the situation, saying, "'[I told him] 'You’re not getting my Louis Vuitton.' I worked very hard for this and this bag I’ve had forever and it means a lot to me.' I saw this bag long before I could buy it and I saved up to buy it. It represents me."
The robber fired two shots next to Kluting - so close that he could see the shell cases fly out. The man made another demand for the bag, and that's when Kluting decided to make a break for it, saying,"I turned and ran north. He pursued me that time and he fired two more shots. On the fourth one, his gun jammed and he had to reload it." Kluting noted that he was scared, and was "waiting for the [shot] to hit" him. However, when he turned around, he saw and saw the thief was running away from the scene.
Police later located and arrested the alleged 21-year-old suspect, who was carrying a stolen handgun. Kluting insists that his reckless stand wasn't about the bag. "Yes, I do love Louis Vuitton," he explained, "but I wasn’t going to be intimidated by this bully. That bag has even more meaning to me now, but it was about not backing down. It was the difference between right and wrong. In that moment, I made a split-second decision."
Police do not recommend having stand-offs with armed robbers, because no physical possession is worth losing your life. However, Kluting says people have praised for his actions, calling him a "hero." Speaking with BuzzFeed News, Kluting said if the situation happened again, he'd give up the bag. Also, he denied being a hero:
"The kids and parents of Santa Fe and Parkland are heroes... There's been so much about gun violence in this country. I am not a hero. The real heroes are people and families that have been affected by gun violence, who are getting up and having to deal with tragedy."