Hostage situations are high-stakes scenarios that can end tragically for victims. But sometimes an armed citizen can turn the tables, saving the lives of others in such a predicament.
Below are 10 times when armed citizens saved the day for others being held hostage.
According to authorities, a homeowner in a gated community was awakened by noises and, to his horror, found an intruder choking his wife. The homeowner quickly ran for his gun and returned to discover two additional intruders. The men, at least one of them armed with a gun, held the homeowner’s wife hostage and demanded cash and jewelry. Fearing his wife would be killed, the homeowner opened fire and at least one of the intruders shot back. The suspects fled. Two were sought by police; one died in the back yard. (The Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas, Nev., 8/15/07)
Police are praising the courage of a concealed-carry permit holder who helped subdue a gunman in a deadly bank robbery. Chris Chappell was making a withdrawal when a man opened fire, killing two tellers and wounding two others. Chappell ran out of the bank and drew his gun, taking cover behind his SUV. The gunman tried to flee the bank, but encountered Chappell and ran back inside. At that time two passing sheriff’s deputies noticed the disturbance and turned around to investigate. The gunman grabbed a hostage and made another attempt to escape, but he was met by Chappell and the deputies. When the gunman stumbled, one of the deputies subdued him with a gunshot. “It’s certainly commendable,” said Jefferson County, Ala., Sheriff’s Sgt. Randy Christian. “It’s obvious he played a key role in keeping the guy there until we could get there. It’s a great testament to someone willing to take action.” (The Birmingham News, Birmingham, Ala., 5/16/07)
When a masked man armed with a shotgun burst into Sam’s St. Johns Seafood restaurant in Jacksonville, Fla., and announced a robbery, diners Oscar Moore and Robert Guerry were spurred to action. As the man held terrified patrons hostage and demanded that a waitress open the cash register, Moore and Guerry, both armed with .22-caliber pistols, opened fire, hitting the robber several times. The suspect fled, but was later apprehended and charged with armed robbery. Moore said, “Somewhere along the line, we the people have to start protecting ourselves.” (The Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., 10/24/97)
When the bandit grabbed Khaled Al-Yasin’s 17-year-old son and put a gun to his head, Al-Yasin pulled his own firearm and ducked behind an aisle in the back of his Minneapolis, Minn., mini-market. Demanding that Al-Yasin drop his gun and give him cash or he would kill the boy, the criminal met only steely resistance as the shopkeeper refused, fearing that the moment he dropped his own gun, the crook would turn killer, slaying both him and his son. Foiled, the crook released his hostage and left the store. It was the fourth time in three months that the store had been robbed. (Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minn., 11/28/95)
Her family taken hostage by her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, Barbara Holt of Kearns, Utah, and her husband were threatened with death, then forced into the bathroom of their home. When the man, armed with a rifle, went into the kitchen with her daughter, Holt slipped into the bedroom and got her .22 pistol. “I was hiding in the corner and when he came out of the kitchen, I just pulled the trigger,” Holt said. Her single shot hit the man in the head and stopped the attack. (The Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, 10/21/91)
A hoodlum forced his way into Gail Whitfield’s pawnshop and home in Leeds, Ala., holding her and a male friend hostage for five hours and threatening them with death. The intruder then abducted Whitfield, who eventually was able to convince her captors to return her home. A short time later, the criminal returned, and she fired her gun and wounded him. He stumbled outside and drove off with his partner, and was apprehended later by Leeds police. (The News, Birmingham, Ala., 1/27/90)
A man armed with a starter’s pistol and his teenage accomplice forced their way into an Oakland, Calif., home and held a family hostage in a robbery attempt. The 52-year-old father rushed to a back room, got his gun, and fatally shot the man. Authorities said the father acted in self-defense. (The Chronicle, San Francisco, Calif., 10/3/86)
After taking Hubert Chandler’s son hostage at gunpoint, a robbery suspect demanded that the 69-year-old Fort Worth, Texas, man get a set of car keys. Chandler told the intruder to calm down and went to a back bedroom, promising to get the keys. Chandler returned with a .45 revolver and shot the gunman, killing him. (The Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas, 5/17/86)
Robert Miller was talking on the phone with his daughter, who found a flat tire on her car as she got off work at a New Smyrna Beach, Fla., restaurant late one night. Suddenly, she screamed and told her father to call police. Miller told his son to make the call, armed himself and sped to the restaurant, where he was met by gunfire from a pair of would-be robbers holed up inside. When he returned fire, Miller wounded one robber, and police collared the pair. Miller’s daughter and another hostage were unharmed. (The Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., 7/26/85)
Circuit Judge Gary Black, a former policemen, was being held with three other hostages by a former convict in the Farmington, Mo., courthouse. During the 90 minutes the group was being held, a sheriff managed to slip a pistol to Judge Black, who surprised the crook and held him for police. (The New York Times, New York, N.Y., 9/1/77)