Bear Attack Stopped With .45 ACP On Second Floor Of Motel

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 6 months ago

Dean Weingarten writing at Ammoland.

He turned around, and looked. There, no more than 20 feet away, its feet on a tipped over trash can, was a huge black bear. The bear did not notice him immediately.

But Greg’s dog had come out, and peaked around the corner. It growled and emitted a bark,! The bear jumped over the downed trash can, landed with a Woof!, and charged directly at Greg.

Everything happened extremely fast, but Greg had moved into the psychological state of tachypsychia, where everything seems to slow down. This is a common effect when a human perceives a deadly threat. The effect also distorts distance, and can cause tunnel vision, focused on the threat.

Greg said: Oh f*ck! The .45 Kimber appeared in his hand and he was firing, with the bear taking up his whole field of vision. Greg told me:

“Everything went into like, time lapse.” “It seemed like it took forever!”

In Greg’s heightened state of awareness, he could hear the first three bullets hit.

Thunk, thunk, thunk.

Then his ears were ringing. The bear dropped its head down as he fired the last three shots at extremely close range, Greg said it was three feet or less.

The bear hit the railing of the walkway two feet from him, turned left, and went down the walkway away from Greg, who had the empty Kimber in his hand.

[ … ]

Greg had loaded the magazine with five rounds, with a round in the chamber. He had found, through experience, a fully loaded magazine to be less reliable in his little Kimber.

The cartridges were Federal HST rounds, an aggressive hollow-point design made for defense against humans. The Kimber Ultra Carry II has a three inch barrel, which likely reduces the velocity by 10-15% compared to a standard five inch barrel.

One neighbor said they had seen the bear previously, and believed it to be 500 lbs. Greg initially thought it was 350-400 lbs. Everyone agrees it was a big black bear.

In early November, with plentiful food, it would have had four inches of fat on, under the skin.

[ … ]

A retired officer commented about the bullet’s performance. He said years ago, he had seen a big black bear which had been hit by a car, in the late fall. An officer had shot it with a .40 caliber, in the neck, to put it out of its misery. The .40 caliber hollow point was not sufficient, and a 12 gauge slug was used to finish the job. When the taxidermist skinned out the bear, they found the expanded .40 caliber lodged in the bears neck. It had not penetrated to the spinal column or entered the chest cavity. In a test by, the HST .45 cartridge had one of the most aggressive expansion and the lowest velocities, of self defense .45 rounds.

Greg says he had considered bringing his Glock 29 10 mm instead of the Kimber .45, but he was not expecting to have to shoot a bear. He had left the Glock and took the Kimber. He thinks .45 full metal jacketed ball ammunition would likely have been sufficient to take down the bear.

First of all, congratulations to Dean for more great reporting on bear attacks.  Second, take FMJ ammunition if you expect to come into contact with a large predator.  Penetration is the key.  Hollow point ammunition is your enemy in this encounter.  When I expect to be in this position, I carry 450 SMC 230 gr. to push 1120 FPS, always FMJ ammunition for large predators.  Always.

But stay tuned, the best (or worst) part of this report comes up.

Greg was not cited for shooting the bear. He was cited for reckless endangerment and unlawful discharge of a firearm.

The cops would rather he have perished being eaten to death by a 400 pound predator than actually discharged a firearm in self defense.

God help us.  It’s come to this.  The cops actually filed charges against him.

Randall Brackins is the chief of police in Gatlinburg.  Like all good cowards, he has no email.  Take note.  This is not the first (or tenth) time I’ve said this.  If you are on the public dollar and have no contact email, you are a coward.

Hey Randall, I have an email address.  You can contact me at any time.  You, sir, are a coward for not supplying the same thing.


  1. On November 27, 2019 at 8:13 am, Unclezip said:

    How is self-defense “unlawful discharge”? And reckless endangerment implies rounds went off target. Methinks the coward sheriff is just doing a CYA, and the DA will hopefully drop the charges.

  2. On November 27, 2019 at 8:18 am, Dave Dudley said:

    …The police submit their reports with recommendations. It’s the Prosecutor ( District Atty ) who decides to charge, or not. You are out of line calling anyone a coward here. Your anger doesn’t justify that.

  3. On November 27, 2019 at 8:44 am, Axel Kassel said:

    The bear, or its estate, should be the one charged with reckless endangerment. On the other hand, if Mr. Weingarten had done the simple and prudent thing and pistol-whipped the bear to death rather than shooting it, he could have avoided the illegal-discharge citation. On yet another hand, it appears the sheriff needs to spend more time on this rather than his home planet.

  4. On November 27, 2019 at 8:54 am, DB said:

    I found this on the citys website

    Maybe it will get through to someone who can pressure him to drop the charges

  5. On November 27, 2019 at 8:55 am, Ned Vickers said:

    I’m a big supporter of the 2nd Amendment, as well as a business owner in Gatlinburg. The density of the black bear population in the national park surrounding Gatlinburg is higher than anywhere in America. As a result, bears are in town every night outside of the winter hibernation season. They are never aggressive unless threatened, and usually not even then. Everyone in Gatlinburg who has experience with bears was a bit skeptical of the sequence of events that was presented when this story came out. I’m guessing that this skepticism is what led to the charges.

  6. On November 27, 2019 at 8:55 am, Herschel Smith said:


    Yes. Ultimately the lawyers will decide. And yet the police did indeed recommend charges for discharge of a firearm in self defense.

    I repeat. The cops recommended charges against the shooter in the case of self defense. But I’m the one who’s out of line?

    Back up a bit, think through this, and say something that isn’t a joke.

  7. On November 27, 2019 at 9:02 am, Herschel Smith said:

    @Ned Vickers,

    That makes no sense to me. If you’re skeptical that it was a good shoot, you don’t charge him with unlawful discharge of a firearm. You charge him with hunting without a license, hunting out of season, animal cruelty, and potential other charges.

  8. On November 27, 2019 at 9:29 am, SDN said:

    “They are never aggressive unless threatened, and usually not even then. ”

    Ned Fudd is welcome to bet his life on that. Some people were born to serve as examples.

  9. On November 27, 2019 at 9:35 am, mockmook said:

    “Then his ears were ringing”

    You think his ears were ringing? Pity the poor bear which just had 5 bullets bounce around in or around its skull ;-)

  10. On November 27, 2019 at 9:49 am, George said:

    Ned Vickers:

    Dave Dudley:

    The police recommended charges in this self defense shooting. We can’t help but notice that police are rarely interested in charging other LEOs for obviously unjustified and in a great many cases manifestly criminal shootings in which they are involved. Cops only have to say the magic words: “I was in fear for my life”, and everything is OK, and they will probably get a medal.

    A citizen not of the elite as defined by the cops gets no such consideration.

  11. On November 27, 2019 at 9:52 am, willford said:

    I carry the EXACT same SETUP in a different scenario. NO bears, just two legged UPRIGHT varmints. IF I had to, I would change setup? The main thing was the treat discontinued as I understand.

  12. On November 27, 2019 at 10:02 am, Fred said:

    Mr. Ned Vickers,
    Thank you for all that y’all do for the economy of east TN. Living in Knoxville, I for appreciate it as do many others that I know. We love bear stories and being Christian, I generally ere on the side of human life preservation. I for one, am a firm believer in the covenant nature of our Lord, our dominion duties, and God’s Law. If the shooter were criminal, then charge him with a real crime instead of mealy mouthed discharge in city limits or some such. I know that appearances matter, this being a tourist area, but I would hope the local Sheriff and DA could find a way to appear to be very disapproving of aggravating or hurting the bears without leaving this man with a weapons charge on his record. But as is our way in TN, this is a local matter so I’ll drop it.

    As to the “attack” itself, if this statement is true; “The bear hit the railing of the walkway two feet from him, turned left, and went down the walkway away from Greg, who had the empty Kimber in his hand.” It’s important as Mr. Vickers likely knows better than most, the bears in that area are well habituated to humans and can be “called off” merely by a loud and aggressive human voice. The thing about this statement that he made is one of egress. This is important boys and girls, pay attention it can save your life, bears almost always egress the way they came into an area, it’s their standard escape path. From the description in the story it seems like a place where identifying the direction of the dog growl could be a problem. The bear may have been simply trying to get to that sidewalk as the way it came in, but how could the shooter have known that? The bear may well have appeared to be charging him. If he had had FMJ ammo he may have gotten the bear to redirect upon first shot landed. Remember, self defense is not hunting, the object is to get the assailant or animal to disengage. I carry a mag of FMJ in the vehicle to swap out for the woods and so should you, if it’s legal blah blah.

    The story rings true to me. How could anybody but a con man think to describe, very well with good details, what happened, and what happens to a man when predator kill or be killed kicks in. All the while the police have taken his weapon, they are in his face, he thinks he was about to die. I doubt somebody would come up with this description on the fly if it were not true. And as to that description of what physiologically happened to him, that’s what happens to cats every time they go for a kill. God’s creation is truly amazing.

  13. On November 27, 2019 at 10:07 am, George said:

    Dave Dudley:

    If we still lived in a constitutional republic as founded, the benefit of the doubt would go to the citizen. Unless they have video of the man shooting the bear needlessly that is clear and unambiguous, the rights of the citizen should be paramount.

    We do not live in such a republic anymore. Policies that allow police to charge for things like this are always just a means for the ruling class to control the serfs.

  14. On November 27, 2019 at 10:12 am, OldSaltUSNR said:

    An officer asked why Greg [Sapp] had not retreated to the hotel room. Greg said there was no time to do so.

    Had Mr. Sapp had the superhuman speed to quickly retreat into his motel room, and close the door safely behind him, the Bear could have, and probably would have, crashed through the paper thin door or the adjacent window, and taken out Mr. Sapp, his wife, and his dog.

    1) The officers had the discretion to review the situation and not arrest Mr. Sapp. Where is their integrity? The officer? His/her Sargent? The watch commander? Where is their concern for the safety and well being of their citizens?

    2) A local prosecutor could review the evidence and decide in half a second on whether or not to charge Mr. Sapp. Where was his/her integrity? His/her concern for the citizens of his jurisdiction?

    I back the blue, as in police and Sheriffs. However, the “blue” need to understand that when they act like politically blue partisans, as in leftist Democrats, they sacrifice their credibility and public support. I hope that enjoying their raw, anti-Constitutional power is worth it to them. I wonder how “safe” the citizens of Gatlinburg, Tennessee feel, knowing that they are a split second from either death or arrest by their local goon squad, since they have no legal right to self-defense within their town?

    I was at a Costco gas pump filling up, the other day. A female Coeur d’Alene officer was nearby, her uniform covered by her civilian overcoat. Someone commented about it in a friendly way. She replied that she covers up so she doesn’t get targeted and shot off-duty because of her uniform. (In idaho?!) I raised my voice and with a smile, “… don’t worry, we’ve all got your back!”. She returned a condescending smile and said, “Sir, I’d prefer you just stay out of the way so that I can do the shooting. Ok?”

    I understand that she wouldn’t want a dozen redneck “yahoo’s” in a free fire zone trying to “help” her, but her assumptions about the city’s citizens was pretty insulting. A simple “thanks” was all she needed to say, if anything. I’m a military veteran, probably with better training and more experience than she has with a weapon, and I do carry much of the time. A lot of men (and women) around here do. I live outside the city, and I do take a little extra care when I see a Kootenai Sheriff deputy’s vehicle out on a call, to ensure that he/she are doing well. I’ve had great interactions with them, and trust them. I WOULD be there in a split second, to back their badge, without hesitation or concern. I wouldn’t lift a finger for a Coeur d’Alene police officer. Maybe I’d make a call to their department when I returned home – I’m not inhumane, but I wouldn’t risk a thing for them. If the CDA police has that little regard for its citizens, this citizen feels the same way about them.

  15. On November 27, 2019 at 11:16 am, Don said:

    Well, the only Gatlinburg I know of is in Tennessee where family trees don’t always fork and I’d have to say that that applies here. The city has elected a village idiot that would push these charges on someone defending himself against a bear when he had no alternative. My question back to this idiotic chief is why aren’t you keeping bears out of town so citizens don’t have to shoot???

  16. On November 27, 2019 at 11:24 am, Quietus said:

    This comment is about the victim’s choice of gun, not his bullet choice (hard for him to have chosen FMJ, thinking in advance that he would be attacked by a bear), nor his shoot/don’t shoot options.

    I spent a couple years working at one of the NW Arkansas semi-custom M1911 shops, shooting and targeting their factory guns. And later, working on brands of “customer” M1911s that were accepted by the company for shop work.

    There was a 3″ gun came in for a $50 reliability package. It was not a 3″ Kimber. The shop didn’t break even on that particular job: I spent probably four or five hours beyond the standard work before that gun would run, mostly experiments with different weights of hammer spring and dual recoil spring combos. These experiments were in attempt to reduce slide velocity, and the work was done prior to the now-common use of a small-radius firing pin stop as the easy fix.

    It ran reliably and would, until its springs got tired, so it went out the door. I still wouldn’t trust it.

    Others have had better experiences with 3″ guns in .45ACP than I did. Others have 3″ guns that run reliably. But I learned a lesson for me, at least.

    This was during the period when the company had withdrawn its high-dollar 3.5″ gun from production, due to reliability concerns (that gun is currently cataloged and has been for some time, I imagine lessons have been learned since that time.) The company’s founder has been on record for close to two decades, that you don’t want to go shorter than 3.5″ in a .45ACP M1911.

    It’s real possible that this victim, reflecting on running his gun dry with inconclusive results, may be wanting a few more reliable rounds in his carry gun.

  17. On November 27, 2019 at 11:32 am, Herschel Smith said:


    I’ve never had any problem loading my mags to capacity in any of my 1911s. That comment surprised me a bit. This includes mags that come with the guns, and 10-rnd mags from Wilson Combat.

  18. On November 27, 2019 at 11:50 am, Dan said:

    The cops issued a citation… was THE COPS who chose to charge this man NOT the DA. When it goes to court the DA could if they holds to ask her judge to dismiss the citation. Don’t hold your breath. The VAST majority of DAs HATE the concept of us mere citizens having the right of self defense. But if the coward badgemonkeys had not issued the citation the DA, the courts and the judge would NOT be involved. Here would BE NO LEGAL CASE TO DISCUSS. This man’s legal dilemma was created by the badgemonkeys. And remember……win or lose for the accused in court THE PROCESS IS THE PUNISHMENT.

  19. On November 27, 2019 at 12:46 pm, Sulaco said:

    Here in WA State a couple years ago in a small new town just north of Seattle a man woke up to find a black bear climbing the stairs in his house to the second floor where his kids were. His in hand gun was a 9mm Glock with FMJ and it was enough to kill the bear on the stairs. No charges were filed.

  20. On November 27, 2019 at 12:55 pm, Ben said:

    > She replied that she covers up so she doesn’t get targeted and shot off-duty because of her uniform.

    > I understand that she wouldn’t want a dozen redneck “yahoo’s” in a free fire zone trying to “help” her, but her assumptions about the city’s citizens was pretty insulting. A simple “thanks” was all she needed to say, if anything.

    Though statistically officer killings are quite low and have been on a slow decline, the stats don’t have the weight of being on tense stops themselves, seeing footage of officers killed on stops, and attending funerals. Combine that with the vile anti-cop rhetoric from the left, and police are rallying behind the “thin blue line”, which is very much a bunker mentality.

    It leads to bad attitudes like hers; bad because police work relies on cooperation with private citizens, so telling them to get bent makes her job harder. And, of course, it reinforces anti-cop rhetoric.

    I think some measures could help, for example allowing police to simply send photos of plates in for routine traffic violations instead of doing a stop. That would avoid a ton of needless confrontation, but it would only ameliorate the situation. I don’t think there’s any easy answer to the divide we have with law enforcement.

  21. On November 27, 2019 at 2:09 pm, J.P. Travis said:

    Mr. Dudley, you seem to have a reading comprehension problem. The writer wasn’t calling the police chief a coward because of the charges, he was calling him a coward for being a public official without a published email account. I agree with the writer. Public officials work for us. They should always strive to make themselves accessible to their employers.

  22. On November 27, 2019 at 2:21 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    He’s a typical overbearing LEO who wants to find something to charge everybody with except for the thin blue line who get to shoot people with impunity.

    He’s a coward because he doesn’t want feedback.

  23. On November 27, 2019 at 4:23 pm, J in Tennessee said:

    Since the chief doesn’t make his E-mail address available to the public, I suppose it wouldn’t be out of order to contact Gatlinburg City Manager Cindy Ogle ( Surely she can pass any communication on to Chief Brackins. Or, one might try, which is likely his address.

  24. On November 27, 2019 at 6:23 pm, revjen45 said:

    Jack Huntington says (and he would know) that best bullet shape for penetration through a dangerous critter is ogive with 70-80% meplat.

  25. On November 27, 2019 at 7:38 pm, Californio said:

    Shouldn’t someone point out to the chief of police that it was a black bear? Or does that only apply to the police?

  26. On November 28, 2019 at 5:17 pm, TC said:

    Stake the LEO and the DA in the middle of a couple of pastures with the same firearm, and let a hangry bear loose at them. If they survive, let’s see them face the same charges.

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You are currently reading "Bear Attack Stopped With .45 ACP On Second Floor Of Motel", entry #22442 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Animals and was published November 26th, 2019 by Herschel Smith.

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