August 2nd, 2007 09:51 PM
4 stories for the price of 1
WHAT IF YOUR LIFE WERE IN DANGER? HOW WOULD YOU REACT? THESE PEOPLE SAVED THEMSELVES AND COPED WITH THE RESULT
Forced to kill: 4 stories of survival
What if your life were in danger? How would you react? These people saved themselves and coped with the result
Clockwise from top left: Roy Parker, Julie Williams, Elijah Hackett III and Ruth Robinson.
Every year in the United States, about 200 people kill someone in self-defense. It's legal. It's often necessary. But it can emotionally scar the people who do the killing.
From 2001 through 2006, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police investigated 25 homicides later ruled justified.
Generally, police warn the public not to fight robbers because, they say, criminals are more likely to hurt or kill anyone who challenges them. But sometimes people feel they have no choice.
At least four times this month, would-be crime victims in Charlotte fought back against people trying to rob them. Two suspects were killed, two injured.
The latest occurred Monday, police said, when a clerk killed a man trying to rob her northeast Charlotte store. Prosecutors haven't decided whether to charge her. But "she is emotionally devastated by the decision that she was forced to make," her lawyer said in a statement.
Four Charlotteans say they understand how she feels. All fatally shot someone while trying to protect themselves. None was charged. But all four say the killings altered their lives.
• May 19, 2000: Roy Parker, asleep upstairs at home, heard the doorbell ring, then loud banging. Clutching a revolver, he ran to the sunroom. "Stop!" Parker yelled. Outside, a man threw an iron patio chair against the window, shattering it. Parker fired two shots, safety bullets that are designed to disintegrate on impact. The man swung the chair again. The remaining bullets were real. Parker aimed a third time and fired.
Parker said he never second-guessed his actions.
He said officers who responded to the shooting of Mitchell Regis, 24, told him they would have done the same thing. Parker said he never wrestled with guilt.
Before the shooting, he believed deeply in the principle of self-defense, and he and his wife had taken a course on carrying a concealed weapon. He'd owned his .357 Magnum for 20 years, though he'd never shot at anyone. What happened didn't change his views.
"You don't retreat at 1:30 at night when somebody is breaking into your house," he said last week in his south Charlotte home. "He left me no choice. It was his choice, not mine."
But after the initial shock wore off, he found his mind replaying the event, the loop endless. "I cried for several days," he said. The former marketing executive, now 58, was in training for a new job. But he couldn't concentrate and didn't start work for more than a month.
Police referred him to a therapist who works with officers who have killed in the line of duty. Parker showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
He took anti-anxiety medication and saw the therapist until, after three years, he could function normally again.
"I killed a person, and I don't like to shoot animals," Parker said. "When somebody attacks you and you defend yourself, you still think, `This is a person who doesn't even know me, and he wants inside my house, and he's not going to stop.'
"I was trying to make sense of the whole thing."
• Jan. 1, 2000: Someone had broken into Julie Williams' bail bonding business but the stillness inside made her think she was alone. She flicked on the lights and stepped through the mangled front door. Suddenly, a man lunged at her with a crowbar. She raised her gun and fired.
Today, two deadbolts secure every outside door of Julie Williams' home. A security system monitors the inside. Video cameras and a Rottweiler guard the yard.
The retired Charlotte cop installed the security after the shooting because she was afraid.
Now Williams says she keeps her house locked down because she doesn't want to have to kill again.
"I just never, ever want to be back in that position," she said.
Williams, 55, fatally shot Judus Lewis Caudle, 38, on New Year's morning 2000. She'd stopped at Absolute Bail Bonding and interrupted the burglary.
"There is no doubt in my mind, had I not defended myself, he would have killed me," she said. "But even though you take a life in defense of your own, it's something you have to live with. I live with it daily."
Williams never returned to the Kings Drive building where the shooting occurred. She now runs an embroidery and screen printing business.
After the shooting, she became depressed. Then angry. At first, she said, she couldn't talk about the shooting. But now, she thinks it helps.
"I don't think there are very many days that go by that I don't think about him," she said. "When I wake up, I think about it. When I'm on my (motorcycle), I think about it."
Williams had been a police officer for 20 years before she retired in 1996 as a sergeant. She never fired her weapon on the job.
She has a permit and totes a loaded handgun in her purse or pocket.
After dark, she lays it on the seat of her car. She carries it in her hand as she walks into her house.
She still remembers Caudle coming at her. "He looked like he was 10 feet tall."
She remembers him struggling to breathe after he fell to the ground.
And she remembers stepping over his body to call for help.
But Williams has forgotten his face.
"God blocked that image out to help me deal with it," she said.
"I think that was God's grace."
• June 10, 2000: Inside the Busy Mini-Mart, Ruth Robinson watched as her husband struggled with an armed teenager. She ran to the counter and grabbed a gun. Crouched behind the counter, she fired blindly.
Ruth Robinson was 66 when she killed Marquis Sanchez Vinson, 17. It was only the second time she'd ever fired a gun, she said.
"I don't know how to shoot a gun," she said. "He was trying to kill my husband. When I shot, I didn't mean to shoot him. I was just trying to scare him."
She returned to work at the northwest Charlotte store the next day.
She and her husband, James, started closing at midnight instead of 2:30 a.m. And they hired a man, kind of like a security guard, to hang out in the store.
Before the shooting, she and her husband had talked about defending themselves in a robbery.
"I wasn't mad. I wasn't sad," she said. "I was disappointed that somebody would come and try to rob you when you work so hard."
Robinson, now 73 and a widow, still runs the register at a relative's store one day a week. She said she thinks about the shooting, most often when she hears about robberies on TV.
"These young kids, they need to go to school and get an education so they can get a decent job. They don't have to rob people," she said.
She didn't know the teenager and can't remember his name now. His brother came to see her a few weeks after the shooting, she said, and let her know his family didn't blame her.
Still, she said, she won't ever forget it.
In yet another encounter with a convenience store robber, Robinson herself was nearly killed last year.
Two teenagers walked into her sister's store on Beatties Ford Road and ordered her to give up the money. As one came around the counter, she said, he saw her going for a gun and shot her in the mouth.
She shot back but missed. She believes she would have hit him if not for her arthritis.
Robinson spent three months in a hospital. Now she has to eat pureed food. Still, she'll probably reach for a gun next time.
"If you work that hard for your money," she said, "you shouldn't let someone come in and rob what you got."
ELIJAH HACKETT III
• Feb. 12, 2006: As he sat upstairs, he heard a thud and two bangs. Elijah Hackett III said he grabbed his shotgun. A second later, he heard someone charging up the stairs. Just as he fired, he recognized the man.
Elijah Hackett III killed his mother's ex-husband.
Hackett said he still doesn't know how Joe Scott Odell, 42, got in that night or why he came rushing up the stairs.
Because of break-ins, Hackett, 30, was staying at the west Charlotte plumbing business he runs with his mother.
Odell used to work at the plumbing business, but he'd been on the outs with Hackett's mother. Hackett and Odell didn't get along.
"Why did he run up the stairs? My truck was parked outside. He should have recognized it," Hackett said. Hackett said he still doesn't know whether his former stepfather had a weapon. Prosecutors cleared him in the case.
Sometimes he and his mother, Jackie, try to figure out why Odell showed up there or what he planned to do. They both referred to his death as "a relief" in some ways. They said there had been tension and threats -- and his mother feared violence loomed.
"I wish I had done it, not him," Jackie Hackett, 54, said. "I wish it were my burden instead of his."
Elijah Hackett said he had no choice, but feels for Odell's family.
"This is nothing I'm proud of. It's not something anybody should have to do. I hate that had to be a part of my life."
"Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18
Guns Save Lives. Paramedics Save Lives. But...
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August 3rd, 2007 03:02 AM
Why does it seem that all of the stories are about negative emotions that follow the shootings? These were all fully justified shoots, in some cases ridding the world of thugs who were nothing but a pernicious threat to anyone around them.
I have never fired a shot in anger, but I am relatively confident (as confident as one can be without having gone through it) that I would be mentally OK if I had shot someone (killed someone) to save my own life.
I just don't see feeling regret or sadness or whatever if, like the retired cop lady, I felt sure that my attacker would have killed me for certain if I had not acted defensively...and decisively.
August 3rd, 2007 05:10 AM
it's hard to explain. you know you made the right call, you know you'd do it again, but at the end of the day, you still feel a little remorse. For me, it's never been that bad, nothing a good binge at the bar and a good nights sleep didnt fix.
Wear a gun to someone else's house, you're saying, 'I'll defend this home as if it were my own.' When your guests see you carry a weapon, you're telling them, 'I'll defend you as if you were my own family"
August 3rd, 2007 05:43 AM
peacefuljeffrey, it's about mindset & having a sheeples or warrior's mindset. If you are not prepared mentally to shoot somebody it can be extremly traumatic & even if you are prepared it can be hard to deal with it.
Nobody knows what or how they will react when the time comes & while the majority of times ya revert to how ya trained, sometimes ya don't.
It's not a easy thing to do and I've personally found that lots of times those who talk crap about it being easy fall flat when push comes to shove.
August 3rd, 2007 05:46 AM
puking your guts out and shaking like a leaf in a hurricane is normal reaction & so is not sleeping, not eating, or sleeping way 2 much and not stopping eating.
Originally Posted by hrtbrk07
It's not fun, that's for sure.
August 3rd, 2007 07:01 AM
Mindset or not... TJ is right... No one knows how they are going to react until it happens...
The key is recognizing if you are having problems and get some help dealing with it early on if need be.
I do know that sometimes negative effects won't manifest itself for a long time after the incident.
"The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."
August 3rd, 2007 03:21 PM
Even with proper training and mental preparation, killing a person can have a profound psychological effect on the shooter. I recommend "on killing" by Dave Grossman to anyone who might use a weapon.
I spent 6 years in the Infantry. I've been conditioned for combat. I've never been in a position to use deadly force and I will make no assumptions about how it will effect me.
I try to prepare as best I can but in the end I'll never know unless it happens.
August 3rd, 2007 08:03 PM
Originally Posted by Bark'n
Practical observation and experience very much underscores this statement, and that of TJ.
Soldiers, law enforcement, and very many average everyday citizens all of whom have had so called 'warrior mindsets' and not at all fit the description of 'sheeple' have had the same kid of post conflict emotion come over them. Many haven't and don't shake it either even with mental health support. It's such a normal thing that as by routine soldiers and law enforcement go through as much review upon being exposed to mental trauma so as to head off PTS issues down the road.
People deal with things differently and one really never knows how they will take pressure muchless survive it until they have been there and worn the shoes, which with taking the life of a human being can be for most normal average mentally healthy people who are telling the truth and not putting on a front of machismo is a not insignificant thing to deal with.
I thought this article was great all the way around as it tells the story behind and beyond the story. Not just citizen defends him or her self succesfully and tells tale. This was a rare instance of complete and close to full disclosure realism.
"Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy
"A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing
August 4th, 2007 02:07 AM
Thanks for the post. Good reading
August 4th, 2007 04:03 PM
Very good read, and one I can relate to from personal experience.
I've mentioned this before on the board, when I was a law enforcement officer, I was involved in an ambush style shooting while responding to a domestic disturbance call.
I have never regretted my actions that night. The man fired at me, the bullet impacted a wall behind me barely an inch from my head. I returned fire, the man died. My response was automatic because of not only police training, but it also happened just a few years after I returned from VietNam.
That said, what I have thought about a lot over the years since is the look on the face of the man's teenage daughter when she learned her Father was dead. That image has remained imprinted in my brain, and I still hear her screams when I think about it. I had to learn to deal with it, and yes, the department made sure I received counseling at the time..... even though I was sure back then that I didn't need it.
Lots of folks in internet discussion boards tend to offer a lot of talk about how they will do this or that if ever involved in a situation. I often cringe when I read the more 'rambo-ish' statements. No one knows how they will react until the time comes.... or can predict how they will feel after when that time also comes.
In the shooting situation I was in, 3 officers responded. One - an 'experienced' Sergeant, froze at the sound of the first gunshot..... and I mean froze as in solid. He was always the one making coffee shop comments about how he would "blow someone away" if this or that ever happened. He certainly didn't when faced with the real thing, and the next morning at breakfast when the three of us gathered with our wives, he cried like a baby because he froze and left his fellow officers in a bind.
No one ever knows. Even though we arm ourselves and make every effort to be prepared, all the coffee shop conversations, gun range conversations, and internet discussions won't amount to much when that one instant in time comes...... all that matters then is your training, your reaction time and how strong your will to survive is.
August 4th, 2007 04:21 PM
Dave - thx for relating that - all experiences do I feel help folks to better understand.
I can well imagine the daughter element being more traumatic perhaps than the immediate shooting results themselves. I hope much as each and every one of us wishes to survive and protect ourselves - that we do not lose the attribute of compassion.
Chris - P95
NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.
"To own a gun and assume that you are armed
is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."
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