While known for their bedside manner and devotion to helping others, some nurses are also ready and able to help themselves when the chips are down, as described in these six stories.
Steve Utash was driving in Detroit, Mich., when he accidentally struck a 10-year-old boy with his vehicle. Retired nurse Deborah Hughes was inside her nearby home at the time, and once she became aware of the accident, she retrieved a .38-caliber pistol and went to see if she could help. While she was trying to comfort the injured boy, a mob began to attack Utash, who had stopped and gotten out of his vehicle. As the beating was taking place, Hughes rushed over to the crowd and told the mob, “Don’t kick him anymore, don’t hit him anymore, get back,” halting the attack. Hughes later told a local media outlet, “I had a gun in my pocket, I was ready to do some damage if I had to.” Following the incident, Detroit Police Chief James Craig referred to Hughes as a “Detroit hero.” Hughes made clear to a reporter that she is often armed, stating, “You have to carry a gun around here … this neighborhood is terrible. I don’t walk around without my gun.” (The Detroit News, Detroit, Mich., 4/8/14; WJBK, Detroit, Mich., 4/8/14; WXYZ, Detroit, Mich., 4/7/14)
As nurse Jim Shaver, 49, walked to his job early one morning in Eugene, Ore., two men, ages 19 and 20, knocked him to the ground and began beating him in an apparent robbery attempt. Shaver, who was legally licensed to carry his .22-cal. revolver, twice warned the thugs that he was armed. Undissuaded, they continued the assault. That's when Shaver fired several shots, wounding the younger assailant and sending both men running. “I was in a position where I had to defend myself,” Shaver said. (The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore., 3/11/1998)
Baton Rouge, La., nurse Alysha Jackson called the police often, complaining of threats and harassment by her estranged husband. Eventually she obtained a restraining order, but in the end it was a gun that saved her from him. Returning from work at midnight, Jackson found her husband had broken into her apartment and was waiting for her. He physically restrained her, but she escaped, went for her gun, and locked herself in the bedroom. When her husband kicked down the door, she shot him in the head, killing him. Police called it an obvious case of justifiable homicide. (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., 6/7/1994)
Awakened by her dog's barking, Tracy Strawn picked up a revolver and stepped outside her bedroom just in time to see a man's head poking around a corner in her apartment. The young Lubbock, Texas, nurse fired just as the intruder charged. She managed to get off one more shot before he overpowered her, but that was enough. The wounded burglar fled and was arrested nearby. (The Evening Journal, Lubbock, Texas, 7/1/1986)
When her apartment was broken into for the third time in three weeks, a 21-year-old Richmond, Va., nurse was prepared—she blazed away at the intruder with a borrowed .45. He escaped unscathed. The nurse says she intends to use the pistol again if he returns. (News-Leader, Richmond, Va., 10/1/1969)
Miss Helen E. Jacobs, 48, a Baltimore registered nurse who has owned a gun since she was robbed on a Baltimore street last year, heard a noise outside her apartment at 1 a.m. She ran out, gun in hand, and halted a 24-year-old man who was stripping her car of hubcaps. "I made him cross the street and lie down on his stomach," she said, "When you stand up against criminals, they back down." Police charged the man with larceny. (Morning Sun, Baltimore, Md., 7/1/1969)