Naomi Irion. Remember her name.
On the morning of March 12, Naomi parked her car in a Walmart parking lot in Fernley, Nevada and was planning to catch an employee bus to her job at a Panasonic factory. Instead of going about her normal day, the FBI said she was abducted.
Surveillance footage released by the Lyon County Sheriff's Office shows a suspect walking from a nearby homeless camp to the parking lot and getting into the driver's seat of Naomi’s car, then driving away in an unknown direction with Naomi in the passenger seat. (See article)
This incident is tragic. Tragic on two counts – (1) A young woman with her whole life in front of her was needlessly taken from her family, and (2) it was most likely preventable.
Now before anyone gets their nose out of joint thinking I am blaming the victim I’m not. What I am going to try and do is use this sad and tragic incident to illustrate why having a personal protection plan is vital.
Let’s look at the facts:
· Naomi was last seen at 5 a.m. the parking lot.
· There was a homeless camp nearby.
· Surveillance video showed a man wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, dark pants or jeans and dark tennis shoes, approaching Naomi’s car at 5:24 a.m.
· About a minute later, her vehicle was seen leaving the parking lot with the man driving.
· Naomi’s vehicle was found near the Walmart three days later.
· The suspect had been sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1997 for his role in covering up a murder and a string of robberies.
Let’s start from the top:
1. It was early in the morning and dark in the parking lot even with the lights on. Naomi was there early as was probably her custom so she would be sure to catch the bus to work.
2. There is a homeless camp near the location. This is information that should have been known and if so, extra precautions should have been in place. In my experience, nothing good happens around homeless camps.
3. There was an individual walking around in the “felon uniform” (hoodie, dark pants, etc.) at 5 AM, in a deserted parking lot approaching Naomi’s car. From the looks of the video, it appears the car was parked in a bit more isolated area of the lot. Maybe not the best choice.
4. There is a 23 minute time span from the time Naomi was seen in the lot and the time the suspect approaches the car. This indicates Naomi was distracted (cell phone?) and was caught unaware.
5. It only took a minute for the suspect to gain control and drive off with Naomi in the vehicle.
6. They didn’t go far as the vehicle was found near the parking lot so whatever was done was done quickly.
7. The suspect had a violent criminal history.
So, if I may, this is what I think may have occurred:
Naomi got in her car that morning and drove to the Walmart parking lot like she had done countless time before. She liked to get there early so she would be sure to catch the bus to work. While she waited, she used the time to catch up on e-mails, texts and maybe take a look at the news. She probably parked in the more isolated area of the lot because she was a good person and didn’t want to inconvenience others who would be shopping at the store later in the day. I don’t know if she was aware of the homeless camp but, either way, she didn’t seem concerned there was any danger.
The suspect more than likely had scoped the area out and may have even targeted Naomi because she was a ‘regular’ in the area and maybe because she presented what he believed to be a ‘soft’/low threat target. With his criminal history, this is not difficult to piece together. He picked a time when Naomi was distracted to approach her car and forced his way in (crime scene #1) maybe threatening her with some type of weapon – probably a knife, screwdriver or something similar. He then took her to crime scene #2 where he assaulted and murdered her, dumping her body nearby and leaving the car. Again, looking at his history, this is a probable scenario.
I said at the beginning I would try to make use of this tragedy to help inform you why having a personal protection plan is necessary. With help from one of my mentors, Tom Givens, here are some suggestions – along with my comments - to consider and make a part of your plan:
1. Stay alert anytime you are outside your home.
Too many people take this for granted and believe they are aware of their surroundings. I can’t tell you how many times crime victims told me, “I never saw him/her/them come up to me! It happened so fast!”
2. Walk with eyes up, looking around you at all times, not talking on your cell.
The cell phone is the bane of modern man! If you’re in your car, and have to use it, at least have it up in your line of sight and not with your head down.
3. Maintain your personal space in public.
In this case it may be appropriate to say, ‘maintain your personal space’. Park so you can see the surrounding area and have a clear line of sight all around.
4. When you get in your car, or if you are sitting in your car waiting, your first action should be to lock your doors.
ALWAYS lock your doors and put your keys in the ignition before you do anything else.
5. If you are sitting in your car taking a call, checking email, working, or posting on social media - sit in the driver's seat, preferably with the motor running, but at least with keys in the ignition, seat belt on, ready to start the car and move quickly if threatened from outside. Drive away from (or over) the threat without hesitation.
6. Check around the area periodically. See #1 and #3 above.
7. Look for anything in the immediate area that looks out of place, out of context, or “just not right”
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!! If it doesn’t feel/look right, it probably isn’t!
Don’t take unnecessary chances.
8. Mindset: “I WILL NOT be a victim!”
No one has the right to harm you. You have the innate right to protect yourself. Don’t take that for granted. Make a plan. Get educated. Take some training. Don’t become a victim.
Naomi Irion. Remember her name.
Be Safe · Be Effective · Be Ready
[Image of Naomi Irion via FBI; Troy Driver via Lyon County Sheriff’s Office]