On August 2nd, 1997 I had the hardest choice in my life to make, that was to survive. Masked men wearing camouflage and carrying guns kicked my front door in at 12:40 am. I was sitting about five feet from the front door waiting for my son to arrive home for the evening. I heard my doorknob jiggle. I thought it was my son trying to get his key in the door. I made it within two feet of the door and stopped because I had not heard him set his car alarm. With one kick from a 299 pound man took my door off the hinges. The deadbolt and regular lock did not help. I heard someone say: “Lay down ma’am” or “Get down ma’am.” I had to make a split second decision whether I was going to lie down or fight. I decided that I had to fight or we might die.
I took off running to where my husband was sleeping, screaming for him to help me. One intruder tried to jump over the couch to stop me and he fell, the other one chased me but did not catch me. I made it to the bedroom and tried to hold the door shut. The door did not close all the way but I had my body against it trying to keep them out. My husband Mike had woken up and did not know what was going on. He made it to [join] me at the bedroom door about the time the door was busted into two pieces, over my body. Then I felt a burning sensation go through my chest. A 9mm bullet had hit me near my heart. We think Mike was shot once at this time but he does not remember the first bullet hitting him in the shoulder and coming out his back near his spine. Mike grabbed the intruders and would not let them go. He tried taking them back out of our home and was fighting them through the kitchen and into the living room. This gave me enough time to call 911, give our address and tell them we were being shot.
I then thought about everything my husband had taught me about self defense. It was now or never. I went for his .22 [rimfire] that he had sitting on the headboard. All I could think was cock the hammer back and take the safety off. This is what he showed me every time he would work a night shift. He would tell me that this is for you to protect you and the children. I never really thought that I had listened to him but I had. I now had to decide how to shoot at the intruders that were fighting Mike. I might shoot Mike by accident. I ran out of the bedroom and into the living room and shot warning shots over their heads. I thought they would run away. They did not. One intruder got away from Mike. He was running towards me. I ran back to the bedroom and turned to fire on him. He was not there. I waited about a second or two and he did not come to the door.
I had to do something. I went to the bedroom door and peeked out to look for the intruder. He was squatted down by my refrigerator waiting for me to come out with the pistol pointing in my direction. I knew I still had to help Mike. Next to my bedroom door is an 8 inch wall and then an opening that leads to the dining room. The dining room also has another doorway that leads into the living room. I knew they would not have known this. While he waited for me to run out, all I could see was his arm and gun around the refrigerator. The refrigerator also blocked him from seeing me slide against the wall to go into the dining room. I made it into the dining room and came out the other doorway with my gun drawn and prepared to fire on the intruder. He never knew what was coming because this put his back to me. I opened fired and shot him in the back two times. He said: “The F….. Bitch shot me, kill her.” That brought me back to reality that Mike was still fighting one of the intruders. When I turned to help Mike, I watched the intruder put the gun to Mike’s side and fire. Mike dropped to the floor from the gun shot and this gave me the opportunity to fire on this intruder. There was just one problem. I had no more cartridges. I turned to run and as I turned he opened fire with eight bullets. One round hit me in the shoulder and came out my back. I ran back to the bedroom and prayed that the police would arrive [in time] to catch them before they made it up my long driveway. They did not.
I thought Mike was dead and the house had gotten very quiet. I thought they had left because 911 kept calling back on the phone and hanging up when the answering machine would come on. I knew they wanted out of this situation because things had gone very wrong for them. Then all the sudden I heard someone scream at Mike: “Where is the f…… keys to that truck?” He said, in my hat, on the gun cabinet, in the bedroom. I was still in the bedroom but I now knew Mike was still alive. I knew the intruder was coming back in the bedroom where I was. The door was busted and the light was off where Mike had been sleeping. I was about 2 feet from the door when he appeared and screamed “where are you”? I did not answer hoping he would leave or the police would arrive. He didn’t, he turned the light on and there I was. He put a sawed off type shotgun to my temple. He screamed, “Where are the f…… keys to that truck?” I had heard what Mike had said about the keys but my purse was right there and I had a set of keys. He screamed: “Did you call 911?” and I lied, and said “No but you have already shot us just leave”. Just take our truck and go. About that time my hand came out of my purse with the keys and he grabbed them and ran.
I thought to myself: “Please wake up from this horrible nightmare.” I looked down at my chest to see that I was bleeding very badly. I knew then it was not a nightmare. I thought of the ringing phone. That is the help that I need for Mike and I. I got to the phone and talked to the 911 dispatch. I really don’t remember much about what the dispatch operator was saying because I was thinking of my family. I put my mom on three-way calling to tell her what had happened and tell her I love her before I died. I then thought of my son that was due home any minute. I then put my sister on three-way calling to tell her to get here for my son. He would need family there in case I died. From the time I made the original phone call it took the police about 14 minutes to arrive on the scene.
Tips to Survive a home invasion robbery:
- You must make you own choices of what to do to survive. Do not depend on the police or your neighbors to protect you. You must protect your family and yourself. They may take what they want and leave you unharmed. You may give them everything that they want and they may want to rape your wife just so you can watch. You may not have enough money or valuables so they’ll kill you anyway. Or they’ll kill you because you might be able to [later] identify them. You have to decide what your life is worth. I made the choice that I did out of fear of the unknown and the will to survive.
- Get a Concealed Carry Permit. Take courses to teach you how to correctly use your weapon. Classes on self defense. Training in self defense strategies practiced in role playing scenarios. Practice with your weapon on the firing range. Practice can make perfect and you want to be comfortable with your weapon. If you have children don’t hide your weapon, teach them the right and wrong use of the weapon. Most children once they have seen and heard what a weapon can do would never touch one without you. But keep your weapons out of the reach of children and have gun locks and all weapons except your personal weapon and that should be on you at all times. (That should be backed by our Constitutional Rights but in many cases has been taken from us). Children are curious of the unknown. Do role playing scenarios with your children of different scenarios of events that can happen. This is not limited to home invasions but can be done with stranger danger, fires and many other dangers in our children’s lives that could happen to them.
- Be alert of your home and surroundings. Don’t think it can’t happen to you or your family. Think again, home invasions happen everyday. Home invasions don’t make the news unless someone dies, or if there is no other news stories for the news that day. I never would have thought it could happen to us but it did. We did not know the intruders, this was a random act. It doesn’t matter where you live it can happen to you.
- Use your instinct to get you through, because your instincts are usually right. Never second guess yourself. Make a plan and stick to it. If plan A does not work, then go to Plan B or Plan C. You must play the hand you are dealt. If you confuse the intruders or their plan fails, then they usually don’t have a Plan B or Plan C.
- Be prepared to use your weapon to protect your family and home. “Your home is your castle” laws should apply in most states. [In those states] the law gives you legal right to use deadly force and if it results in death can be defended as justifiable homicide under the castle doctrine. Each state is responsible for its own castle laws. It is your responsibly to know that laws of your state. Some states have a stand your ground rule while other states have a [responsibility to] retreat law. Make sure you follow the laws of your state so you are fully protected [legally]. Some states have added legislation that also gives you this protection in your vehicle and your place of employment.
- For you women, there are purses designed to hold your weapon. I can have my purse on my shoulder and my hand on the grip of my gun for my outside activities or walking to my car alone. This is a great self confidence builder when you are all alone and scared. There are thugs everywhere and the split second it may take for you to get to your weapon can be the difference between life and death.
Mike and I both survived this home invasion. We worked together as a team. I will admit that I was not prepared for what happened to us. Mike always was worried about protecting his family. I never thought this would happen to us. Now I am more prepared and I watch my back everywhere I go. Mike and I are survivors not victims.
The intruders did not get what they came for. But what they did get is what they deserved. The [third man, their] driver left the intruders at our home after the shooting started. He received a five year sentence and served about 3-1/2 years. The intruder that shot us received five life terms in the Florida Prison System. He was charged with the death of the intruder that I shot, under Florida law. (Florida law states that if anyone dies in the commission of a crime then that it is [deemed] Felony Murder. So this intruder was found guilty of the murder of his accomplice. ) He was also found guilty of two attempted murders, armed robbery and armed burglary. He will never be eligible for parole. The other intruder got something he probably never bargained for. He was shot by me and died in my yard. The autopsy stated he lived 5 to 10 minutes after being shot. He was also run over by the other intruder as he was leaving in our truck. We don’t know if this was so he would not talk or if his friend ran over him by accident. I hope he made piece with God before he died. I live with the fact that I took a human life. I know that is was self defense but I still have the emotional scars to carry with me.