Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper developed a system which we should all know, the color code of awareness. The development and use of Cooper’s system has penetrated the self-defense industry and is widely used to help people develop a defensive mindset. A recent robbery turned murder potentially illustrates the importance of situational awareness.
On Oct. 26, around 3:38 a.m., authorities responded to a residence on Briardale Court following a report of shots fired. Upon their arrival, officers said they found Sree Aravapalli, 54, who sustained multiple gunshot wounds. Aravapalli was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.
According to police, Aravapalli was fatally shot at his home during an attempted robbery. Jekai Reid-John, 27, of Norristown, PA targeted Aravapalli in Pennsylvania and followed him home to his Plainsboro residence, police said.
The particulars of this situation are beyond sad. As the story developed it was learned that Aravapalli was targeted at a casino after cashing in approximately $10,000 in chips. Besides Aravapalli having a large amount of cash on him, maybe it was assumed that he was unarmed. Had the suspect identified him as being from New Jersey from his license plates, there’s a fairly good chance that he’d be aware of some common knowledge. The residents of New Jersey are not afforded their full Second Amendment right and are forced to be disarmed.
This story shows the extreme importance of situational awareness and not leaving one’s self (or family) vulnerable to being a victim. We can’t say that Cooper’s system would have been fool proof in this or any other situation. We can only speculate about possible outcomes if victims had heightened states of awareness.
A rather simple version of the color code that Cooper released just prior to his death focuses on the different levels from a gun fighting perspective.
In White you are unprepared and unready to take lethal action. If you are attacked in White you will probably die unless your adversary is totally inept.
In Yellow you bring yourself to the understanding that your life may be in danger and that you may have to do something about it.
In Orange you have determined upon a specific adversary and are prepared to take action which may result in his death, but you are not in a lethal mode.
In Red you are in a lethal mode and will shoot if circumstances warrant.
We can break down each color level in a broader sense.
Condition White can be compared to completely unaware. Think asleep or walking down the street while looking at your cellphone. Head in @$$.
Condition Yellow is a heightened level of awareness. Condition Yellow can be slightly tiring, but it’s sustainable to be at most of the time. When out and about, condition Yellow is where your mindset should be. Alert, but not crazy paranoid. Know who/what’s behind you, but you don’t have to look over your shoulder every second to do so.
Condition Orange is even more of a heightened level of awareness, very alert. Something is not the way it should be and you’ve detected a specific threat. When in Orange you’re deciding what you’re going to do if you have to act. You’ve established what potential things may occur and what you’re going to do if they arise. If you’re able to retreat or completely avoid whatever trouble you’ve identified, do so.
Condition Red is the state of having to act. This is when you’re going to fight or flee. Whatever you’ve thought out in Orange, it’s time to implement in Red. It’s go time.
When keeping yourself in a state of situational awareness, you’re guarding your safety and the safety of your loved ones. If we re-wind here and look back at the scenario cited earlier, let’s try to fill in some of the blanks.
We don’t know exactly what the particulars were concerning the victim of the murder. Think in your own experience or draw from what you know about going to a casino though.
Was this an all day into the night type of thing? How tired do you think you’d be at the time of when police responded around 3:30 am? The drive from the two cities mentioned is approximately one hour. That would probably mean a commitment to leave the casino around 2 am, plus or minus. Was there drinking involved?
In a casino with the better part of or more than ten grand is the perfect time to be in condition Yellow. Really, condition Orange would be not a bad place to be, especially when getting out of the casino and into your vehicle. Personally, I’d have my head on a swivel. Is anyone watching you or following you?
On a personal level I had a similar experience. Except no one was “watching” me to know I had a large sum of cash. The scenario involved getting a cash deal on some jewelry in New York City. Yeah, that sounds shady, but it was 100% on the up and up. My father and I were the only people that knew I had a rather large sum of cash on me and we walked from where we parked to the jewelry factory. It felt like everyone was staring at me and the wad of money. I presumed everyone I passed was a threat. I was in Orange. I made it safe and sound, picked up what I needed to, and we sprinted for the Lincoln Tunnel. I’m just not accustomed to carrying that much money and it affected me enough to be hyper vigilant.
Would Aravapalli be alive today if he were more aware of his surroundings? Who knows. The situation is one that has a lesson to offer. At minimum stay alert and have a plan if you do have a defecation hitting the ventilation situation. We’re entering the busiest shopping season of the year. Keep your head on a swivel out there, refuse to become a victim, and protect yourself and your loved ones the way you see fit and within the law.
Stay safe out there and think before you do!
Do you want to watch a great video on the color codes from the Jeff Cooper yourself? Check it out in the embed below or by clicking HERE. It’s dated and has some questionable/suggestive language, but the advice is still applicable.