A single hole from a .22-caliber bullet dotted the master bedroom door of the Gastonia home Wednesday — evidence of a woman’s futile attempt to ward off an attacker.
Below it was destruction — a gaping cavity flanked by broken pieces of wood, where someone furiously kicked in the door until the lock finally buckled under the pressure.
Gastonia police say it was the scene where a woman was violently raped by a 23-year-old Gastonia man on Tuesday night, despite her firing a gun at the suspect and pleading for help in a 911 call as he forced his way into the bedroom.
The woman, who is in her 20s, called 911 about a breaking and entering at 10:36 p.m. The sounds of a commotion and the woman’s screams can be heard in a recording of that call, before the line suddenly goes dead.
When police arrived, they found Darrell Matthew Gore of 2418 Rogers Ave. coming out of the woman’s home with a stab wound to the chest, said Gastonia Police Sgt. Jeff Clark.
Gore was charged with second-degree rape and first-degree burglary, and booked into the Gaston County Jail under a $200,000 bond. A judge increased his bond to $750,000 during Gore’s first appearance in court Wednesday.
A violent scene
Clark described a violent series of events at the woman’s home. She did not know her attacker, he said.
“When he first broke in, she fought with him briefly and then locked herself in a bedroom,” Clark said. “She had a gun and fired a shot at him through the door.”
But the gun jammed on her and she was unable to fire it again, Clark said. Gore was then able to tear the door down. The woman also had a shotgun, but was unable to fire it before Gore wrestled it away from her, Clark said.
She was then able to stab him in the chest, but the wound was superficial and only needed a few stitches, Clark said.
“This guy was very violent,” Clark said.
Gore allegedly made a confession to a nurse at Gaston Memorial Hospital. When the nurse asked what had caused his injuries, he allegedly told the nurse that he had broken into a home to rape a woman and she had stabbed him, Clark said.
Neighbors tell of signs
Neighbors who live on the same block as Gore said they were horrified and infuriated Wednesday. Several said they have complained to Gastonia police about Gore exhibiting threatening behavior for the last two years, though they were told it often involved unchargeable offenses.
“This is not just an isolated incident,” said Mary Weaver of Rogers Avenue. “I just feel this could have been prevented.”
Gore lives at 2418 Rogers Ave. with other family members, neighbors said. The family began renting the home about two years ago, and problems with Gore began shortly after, Weaver said.
Gore was charged with injury to real property and assault on a female in 2007, but the charges were dismissed because there was no prosecution witness. He was charged with second-degree trespassing and disorderly conduct in February of this year, but the charges again were dismissed, according to a North Carolina criminal records check.
A public disturbance charge filed against Gore in August is pending.
On Sept. 5, a 77-year-old woman told police that a neighbor entered her residence on Rogers Avenue without her permission and assaulted her by grabbing her. He was then chased away by someone else, according to the report. Charges were never filed.
Other strange behavior preceded that. Weaver said Gore walked up behind her young son while he was mowing grass one day and grabbed his neck with both hands. Another resident, Tony Polk, said Gore has previously knocked on his door making strange requests, and that Gore once tried to follow his wife into their house.
When neighbors complained to Gore, he would apologize and say he “wants no trouble,” Polk said.
“We try to be nice to the boy,” said Polk. “I felt sorry for him because he didn’t act like he was all there.
“But this shouldn’t have happened. He knew right from wrong.”
One unloaded weapon
The Gazette is withholding certain personal information about the woman and her family members, in accordance with its policy of not identifying accusers of sexual assault.
A man who identified himself as the stepbrother of the woman’s husband said the couple had just bought the house where the attack occurred, and moved in three weeks ago. He said Wednesday afternoon that she was still severely emotionally distraught.
At the time the woman arrived home just before 10:30 p.m., her husband was still at work, the relative said. Shortly after she went inside, she heard a knock at the door, which does not have a peephole.
“She thought she had latched the front door,” the relative said. “So she cracked the door to look outside, and he’d already opened the screen door.”
Gore immediately forced his way inside. The woman fled through the house, at one point throwing a kitchen chair into his path as she ran toward the bedroom, where she locked the door, the relative said.
She dialed 911 on her cell phone and pulled a .22-caliber pistol out of her purse, firing once at an angle through the door before the gun jammed, the relative said. The bullet went through the door and lodged in an adjacent wall.
As Gore continued to kick and beat his way through the door, and as the woman screamed for help on the 911 call, she picked up a shotgun. She fired it at him as he came through, but the chamber was empty, the relative said.
Gore then slapped the flip-style cell phone from her hand, and the 911 call ended when it closed, the relative said. She stabbed him with a “punch dagger” that was on the nightstand, but it was not enough to stop the attack, he said.
The woman’s husband has several loaded firearms inside the residence for home defense, but the shotgun happened to be the only one without ammunition, the relative said.
Gastonia Police Sgt. Jeff Clark agreed that the woman had done everything in her power to stop the attack.
“She was a fighter,” he said. “She fought like crazy.”