This is the top story of the May 13, 2019 issue of The Informer, issue #3.
The formation of the Gilead Defense Committee last week in response to the murders of Steve and Emma Jones by Raiders proved to be just in time to avoid an even worse
incursion. On May 10, less than a week after the first assault, a three-vehicle convoy of about a dozen people attempted to ram the barricades blocking access to Gilead Brook Road from Route 12, and a fierce firefight ensued when the vehicles were unable to penetrate the barriers.
No Gilead residents were hurt, but two Raiders were killed and at least three others wounded before the group fled, leaving behind their fallen comrades and one disabled vehicle.
The attack, coming six days after the tragic deaths and looting at the Jones home, was foiled by the hasty defensive preparations made by all Gilead residents, based on the proposals put forth by the GDC after days of intensive planning and discussions.
“We figured the attacks are going to come in two broad phases,” said GDC member Mark Cohen. “The first phase will be what we’ve seen so far – disorganized, desperate people who are basically out to grab whatever they can to survive for another few days.”
Cohen said that the GDC speculates that this first type of Raider will eventually be replaced by more organized groups that realize they have to cooperate if they want to survive in more than just the most basic sense. “This second phase is probably the biggest long-term threat, if there’s enough people left for it to materialize,” Cohen explained. “But for our immediate purposes, we decided that protecting ourselves from Raiders passing by on Route 12 is job number one.”
Toward that end, teams of workers erected a barricade where Gilead Brook Rd. meets Route 12. The barricade consists of two large hemlock trunks – each one about three feet in diameter – laying across Gilead, backed up by a row of metal barrels that have been filled with dirt and rocks.The hay field to the north of the intersection was a concern for the GDC as they planned Route 12 security measures, since Raiders could easily bypass the road blockade by leaving the highway and driving across the field or traversing it on foot. The plan, therefore, is to line the field with large logs along Route 12 to prevent vehicles from penetrating the Gilead by leaving the highway.
“We didn’t have the whole hayfield blocked off yet, but we did have it blocked up to the Shareburg’s abandoned house just north of the intersection,” said GDC member Charles Calhoun. “That proved pretty helpful during this last raid, from what I saw during the attack.”
How the firefight unfolded
Although Calhoun was up in the Costas’s stand of pines cutting a tree to drag into place when he heard shots from the firefight, he still managed to make it to the scene in time to help defend the Gilead. “I pulled Felicity out of her traces as fast as I could, grabbed my shotgun, and rode bareback to Rich [Bennington] and Stanley [Lyon]’s place,” said Calhoun. “I left her behind their woodshed and ran up to where Martha [Arceneaux] and Mark [Cohen] were stationed, and helped them fire on the Raiders who were crossing the barricades and trying to come across the hayfield north of our road.”
According to Calhoun, about half of the Raiders were attempting to cross the hayfield, while the other half were in a nose-to-nose shootout with Bennington and Lyon, who were manning the main barricade, pinned down behind the earth-filled barrels. “We were literally 15 feet away from these people,” said Lyon. “They were shooting from behind their vehicles and there were a lot more of them. If Paul [Tobiason] and Joanne [Costas] hadn’t come up from their posts down the hill from the Joneses’ house, I’m not sure how it would have turned out.”
As it was, Tobiason and Costas were able to surprise the Raiders by emerging from the trees on the south side of the road, firing at them from behind the Jones home. This provided Lyon and Bennington with the cover they needed to gain an advantage over the Raiders, the immediate result of which was the killing of one of the Raiders by either Bennington or Lyon (neither is sure whose shot was the fatal one). Immediately thereafter, Tobiason was able to kill a second Raider.
Meanwhile, Calhoun, Arceneaux and Cohen had the other group of Raiders pinned down by the Shareburg’s abandoned home, preventing them from making a dash across the open field around the house, and from engaging Lyon and Bennington at the blockade.
“I know I put quite a lot of shot into a few of those guys,” said Calhoun, who was armed with a 20-gauge shotgun. “It wasn’t lethal from that range, but it did keep their heads down.”
The rest of the sentries were armed with auto-loading rifles or shotguns, at Bennington’s insistence. “I think that for patrol and sentry purposes, auto-loaders are the way to go,” he said. “We don’t have time to make sure everyone on sentry duty is a crack shot, so if you can’t have quality shooting, you might as well have quantity.”
According to Lyon and Bennington, once the Raiders found themselves bogged down and unable to advance, the attack began to lose momentum and they started getting back into their cars and shouting to the others that they needed to leave. “Most of them were wounded, and once it was obvious that two of them were dead, they defeated themselves by shouting it to their pals and calling for a retreat,” said Lyon. “Once we saw that happening, we quit firing. There’s no need to waste ammo on a battle that’s over.”
One of the Raiders’ vehicles – a 2014 Kia hybrid SUV with New York plates – was too damaged to drive, and was left at the barricade. The other vehicles limped away with at least one flat tire each and riddled with bullet holes.“I think we can call this a successful first encounter for our defenses,” said Bennington, “but I won’t be able to relax until we have every single defensive measure in place.
“I might get a good night’s sleep in six months or so,” he concluded.