David Poto didn’t think he was going to have to use his handgun in self-defense when he put on his holster on December 1st, but thankfully he was ready and prepared to do so when a knife-wielding man threatened him as well as passerby in the small town of Sanford, Maine.
Poto was getting ready to serve up orders of loaded tater tots and cheesesteaks from his food truck to folks thronging the small downtown for Sanford’s annual tree-lighting ceremony and “Holly Daze” parade, but when he saw a man with a knife threatening passing motorists, he knew he had to do something.
“Hey!” Poto recalled yelling, hoping the man would stop what he was doing.
Poto said that the man turned around and stared at him. No longer interested in the people in their cars, Poto said the man started to walk toward him, as his wife stood nearby and their four daughters watched a Christmas movie inside the food truck.
“I’m going to kill you,” the man said, according to Poto. “I’m going to stab you.”
Poto, who had a Glock 43X on him, gripped the gun, and for a few seconds kept it hidden behind his leg.
“I didn’t want to escalate anything,” Poto said. “But I knew the danger was coming toward us. Worst-case scenario, I was prepared.”
Poto says he tried to de-escalate the situation, telling the man to calm down, but the suspect kept coming towards him with his knife in hand, even after Poto showed the stranger his pistol and warned him to get away. Instead, the man responded by taunting Poto to shoot him as he walked ever closer, until Poto said he had no choice but to fire in self-defense.
Poto said that out of fear for his family’s safety and his own, he fired his gun and struck the man in the leg.
“I was trying to avoid his arteries,” Poto said. “I didn’t want to kill him.”
The man reportedly fell to the ground in pain and started shouting the word “rape” and accusing Poto of “shooting a woman.”
Poto said he now has trouble sleeping, and that his daughters are “completely shook up.”
“I hate the fact that somebody had to get hurt,” he told the Portsmouth Herald. “I hate the fact that he put me in that position in the first place. I didn’t want any part of it.”
I don’t recommend aiming for the leg any more than I suggest firing a “warning shot”, but thankfully for Poto (and the suspect too, I suppose) the round hit its intended target but didn’t do any life-threatening damage to the armed assailant.
The Portsmouth Herald reports that the community has rallied around Poto and his family. In the wake of the shooting Poto struggled with re-opening his food truck, which is his family’s sole source of income, but another local business owner held a rally and fundraiser for the family just a few days ago. Jason Cole, the owner of Kona Ice of York County, described Poto and his family as “amazing” members of the community, and said he’s “honored to help them out”, as well as showing them “that the community supports them and will help them recover.”
It’s gratifying to see the support that Poto is receiving from friends, acquaintances, and total strangers in the Sanford area. Like every other gun owner I know, David Poto wasn’t looking for a fight or eager to display his marksmanship when he put on his gun. I’m sure he would have been perfectly happy if his gun had stayed holstered that Friday night, but when he was confronted with an armed man who was threatening others, Poto decided he had to act before someone got hurt.
Police are still conducting their investigation into the incident, but based on the public reporting this certainly looks like a justified use of force. Poto, meanwhile, told Fox News Digital reporter Emma Colton that the support from the community has been breathtaking.
“I think everyone around us knew what we needed before we did, which we will be eternally grateful for,” Poto said.