The elevator murder experiment: what would you do?

Consider this scenario, an ill-advised experiment:

Summary: Two co-conspirators stage a “murder in progress” in an elevator: when the doors open, people waiting on the platform are treated to the sight of one of these men strangling the other. The scene is such that it’s likely the victim will die if you don’t take prompt action of some sort.

What do you do? Do you run away? Do you call 911? Do you intervene forcibly? Do you intervene violently?

As I told my brother, everyone is bold behind their keyboard, and that includes me. Hard to say with certainty what I’d do, but knowing that calling 911 and waiting would result in a death, I imagine myself kicking the assailant in the face after a couple of verbal warnings to release his victim.

My brother says he would be leary of intervening physically:

A) You don’t know what other weapons might be in play, so you don’t know the risk. Maybe the assailant also has a gun, and you are taking a greater risk of injury than you might think.

B) You don’t really know who’s who here. Maybe the current strangler is the victim and has turned the tables on his attacker.

Well, he’s right about A); there are unknowns here, and physical intervention does put you at risk of injury or death. But B)? If the initial victim really has turned the tables, then by strangling his attacker to death he is not acting in self-defense anymore. People have been imprisoned for using a gun to stop a crime and then following up by fatally shooting the perp after he was no longer a threat. IMHO this would be the same situation, and so violent physical intervention on my part is warranted in order to save whomever is currently being strangled.

As a final note, this seems like a really dumb experiment, in that one or both of these guys quite possibly could have ended up taking a steel-toed boot to the head. I think they’re lucky.

So anyway, what would you personally do, and what range of responses would you find reasonable/acceptable?

I’d find the nearest CO2 fire extinguisher and spray them both with it.

Wait, no, I can’t see that working.

I’d be torn between three options:
a) booting the choker in the face
b) using a pain compliance technique on the choker to stop the assault
c) doing nothing (call police).

It would all depend on where my head was at that day. If I were stressed/distracted, it would probably be A.

If I had my full mental faculties at my disposal, I would gather more intel on the situation, and if I thought I could pull off B, I would try.

Option C needs serious consideration though, as there are two well known cases here about innocent men being fatally stabbed while trying to break up a fight they were not initially involved in.

Actually, if you watch the video you can clearly see that not working: one bystander tries it with little effect. Granted, he appeared to be aiming at the victim, and from a substantial distance. A lungful of concentrated CO[sub]2[/sub] hurts like hell, so if you blast the attacker right in the face at close range it’ll probably work.

My first response would be shouting at the assailant (IMO that would quite probably make him abandon the strangling - strangling someone in an elevator clearly is a spur of the moment act, not how you’d go about a premeditated killing). Next, try prying his hands off while kicking him. Strangling someone would indicate to me that the assailant probably is unarmed.

Call 911. What the hell am I going to do? I’m a 5’5" woman who isn’t really very strong. I’d be scared to death to get in the middle of both of them. Especially with two men strangling each other…if it was a woman being strangled I’d be more likely to get involved.

Seriously, that’s all I need, for both of them to turn on me.

I plan to press the elevator call button to keep the door open and shout. If that didn’t startle the assailant into letting go and explaining this was all a misunderstanding, I’d let go of the button and run for the fire alarm, dialing 911 on my cell as I went.

I work in some pretty sketchy apartment buildings. I really have given this some thought.

“I plan to press the elevator call button to keep the door open”

So you would turn your back to the man you are witnessing killing someone?

I honestly don’t know. I suspect I would do something idiotic like try to pull the strangler off with my bare hands, but maybe I would just run away and call 911.

A guy broke into our apartment a few years back (he was just a drunken partygoer who got confused and thought our apartment was where the party was) and when I saw this huge man lurching down the hallway towards me, I did not do what I would have thought I’d have done, which is go for where my husband and child were, in a room across the hall. You know, to maternally protect my kid or whatever. No, instead I instinctively slammed the office door in the intruder’s face and yelled to my husband to call the cops. I definitely did not rationally plan that out as a response. Similarly, I don’t expect that however I responded in this situation would be rational or well-thought-out.

Huh? No, the button next to the elevator that calls it to the floor I’m standing on. No back turning. It’s generally about 6 inches away, within reach. What I don’t want is the door to close and the elevator to move if, for example, the person isn’t actually murdering anyone, but trying to support the body weight of his friend who just had a stroke. If that’s what’s happening, I’d expect him to look up and ask for help, and I want the elevator there and door open if that happens.

If he doesn’t look up, then I’d like that door closed ASAP to be between me and them while I find help!

Watching the video, my instinct would be to try and pry the two apart, but reading this, this is clearly the correct answer. They’re both on the ground, a swift kick to the face breaks up the fight and keeps me relatively out of harms way.

Dumb experiment.

I don’t know.

In previous instances of “holy shit!”, I have managed to respond a way that I later found appropriate (caught a pregnant lady when she fainted, helped a friend through a panic attack, called 911 when my dad showed signs of a stroke).

I’d like to think I’d start screaming “FIRE!” at the top of my lungs (to attract help, as people tend to run towards a cry of “FIRE!”) and then do what I could to stop the attack. I’ve got a mean kick, and I know where the hurtie spots are on a person. The problem would be not getting myself killed or aggravating the attacker into hurting his victim even more.

I’d start taking the stairs from now on, just to be on the safe side.

I would also intervene violently. I’m sort of on the lookout for an opportunity to be killed while performing an act of heroism.

I’d use the stairs.

ETA: ninja’d

I’m kind of crazy, I’d jump right in. It’s happened before.

Yes, I’ve broken up fights before as well.

With the way they were positioned, I probable would have either to kick the attacker in the face or do a “dog pile” sort of leap to just throw a monkey wrench into the action.
Or maybe just step in, press my floor and face forward humming “The Girl from Ipanema.”

I’m a big guy and I’d just kick his head in.

Sounds like a tough guy answer unless you would be there to witness it.

You would also get to hear my horrendous war cry which sounds somewhat between “screams like a little girl when exited” and a piercing sound only dogs can hear.

When I was a kid my neighbor convinced me it would be funny if we pretended to fight whenever a car went by. It wasn’t funny.

In this situation you cannot know who is defending and who is attacking. Yes, you know that one person is now in the dominant situation, but that doesn’t mean they started it. A few people posted that it doesn’t matter anymore because if the man is choking out the other man it isn’t defense. Not the case.

I have several successful years of Highschool/College wrestling under my belt and personally I know that an intense struggle like this can quickly change sides. If I were being attacked I would choke out the attacker too! That is not to say I would kill the attacker, just knock them out. We cannot assume that is the situation either.

If you are confident in self defense, announce you are calling the police, and that in the meantime you will be yelling for assistance, and then see their reaction. If they break it up themselves…done. If not? Inform police, then threaten to kick the assailant, or find a servicable weapon to defend yourself/victim.

I just wanted to say how STUPID this experiment was. What if someone had a gun, was freightened, and blew either guy’s head off? What about all the fake 911 calls that day? WTF?

Good point. I guess the only right course of action is to kick both their asses.

Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit! I can’t believe I didn’t take the chance to say

I’d take the stairs!

eta: God dang it Kayaker!

It doesn’t matter. I always take the side of the guy getting his ass kicked. Once things are under control the details can be worked out. Too bad for you if you just happened to have taken control when the elevator door opened. You’ll get the kick to the head. I don’t want to watch someone get killed, and I don’t want to get killed, so I’ll take the quickest steps to change the situation.