By Tamara K.
The one time I called 911 was on a prowler who had chased my ex-roomie into our apartment the previous day. She was so scared she wouldn’t leave the apartment til I got home from work, so I borrowed her cell phone, figuring to troll the neighborhood looking for this guy on my way home and call the heat on him. No joy (as fighter jocks put it). I pulled into our driveway upon arriving home, and as I was parking the car he appeared from around the corner of the building. No problem; I just called the local precinct direct (NOT the overburdened 911 system, mainly because I knew half-a-dozen officers that worked out of that precinct) and informed them of the Creepy Roommate Chaser in my parking lot.
Deciding I’d rather wait in my apartment only five or ten steps from the car, I loosened the velcro on my purse’s gun compartment, grabbed my jumbo-sized canister of “dog & bear grade” OC (pepper spray) and stepped out.
He charged me and grabbed my arm, squeezing hard enough to leave bruises. I hosed his face with what felt like half the can of OC, holding the nozzle of the can perhaps a foot from his nose. He collapsed, screaming, and I bolted for the steps. I saw that some genius had left the building’s outward-opening security door propped open with a cinderblock, and so I looked over my shoulder to make sure he was still lying there. He wasn’t; he was right behind me. I pounded up the stairs and into the building, tossing the OC can into the bushes on the fly and scrabbling for my Glock 23 in my purse.
Hitting my (thank God, unlocked!) apartment door with a shoulder on the run, I burst in and saw my roomie standing there in the bedroom doorway; eyes bugged out and mouth agape. I kicked the door shut behind me, trying to buy time, but my attacker was so close behind me that it bounced off his head with a *thunk* and flew open again. By this time I had the gun out and turned with it in both hands, trying to raise the gun as close to my line of sight as possible, like I’d been trained. I remember a freaky-calm corner of my brain chanting “frontsightfrontsightfron…” when my assailant almost ran onto the muzzle. I remember that I was taking up slack on the trigger, when he tried to backpedal at the sight of the gun and fell on his butt. I tried to tell him to hold it and wait for the police, but I couldn’t get the words out. Incidentally, my roomie says that I was screaming louder than her; not words, just a shriek. Truthfully, I don’t distinctly remember any sounds at all, except for him hitting the floor; I thought for an instant I’d shot him. He scrabbled backwards out the door and jumped back out of the building. I got to the outer door in time to see him turn the corner at the end of the driveway and run off. It was then that I noticed that a) I was in tears, and b) I had piddled myself.
Some twenty minutes later the police showed up; not entirely their fault as I apparently had not made it clear that I was out in the parking lot with this guy. They thought that I had spotted him through a window from inside, and so they had tried a stealthy approach to see if they could avoid spooking him. Both officers were occasional drinking buddies of mine and were sincerely concerned, upset, and apologetic.
They never caught the guy.
I still carry a gun…
Observations in the Aftermath
This all happened in about maybe the space of 10 seconds; from exiting the car to the perp fleeing. It was maybe fifteen feet from my car to the stairs, I ran up four concrete steps, and my apartment door was immediately inside the security door on the right (against exterior wall). I took two or three steps into the living room and turned with drawn gun. His proximity to me was such that I firmly believe that if the slamming door had not slowed him by a half step, he may have been inside the arc of my pistol’s muzzle as I turned, and things might not have had such a favorable outcome.
Certain parts of this series of events are etched in my mind in amazing detail and drawn-out slow motion, while others are gone. There’s no audio track to my memories of the incident after his initial scream from the OC spray, except for the thump from the door and the thump from his fall. I distinctly remember commencing to pull the trigger just as his arms windmilled and he fell backwards with no more than a foot between the pistol and his chest, and for a moment I thought I’d shot him until he started scrambling backwards. When he did that, I for some reason (there was no conscious decision that I remember) removed my finger from the trigger and tried to tell him to stop where he was. I have no doubt that if he had stood up or moved towards me in any way, then I would have shot him. For whatever reason, though, I couldn’t do it to a person who was scrabbling desperately backwards on his behind and who then dove/rolled sideways out the door.
To this day I am thankful I didn’t have to kill him, but I sometimes lose sleep wondering if other, later victims may not have been as lucky. I’m sorry for the stream of consciousness type stuff. I’m still not real coherent on this topic, but I’d like to point something out in closing; if guns could be magically ‘disappeared’ somehow, the only person in this incident that would have been affected would have been me. My creepy attacker apparently didn’t feel he needed one; he had size and strength on his side. That’s why my very personal opinion is that gun control sucks.