Life is full of happy occasions, but it would be foolish to expect criminals—who don’t care about right and wrong, breaking the law or going to prison—to care that it’s your birthday. Following are seven stories of individuals who, despite the celebrations going on around them, wisely opted not to take a holiday from armed self-defense.
Dennis Scherzer has had problems with people shooting at his house, in part because of his stance against drugs in his neighborhood. As a party started to break up next to his East Palo Alto, Calif., home, Scherzer staked out his front yard with his shotgun. When he saw a youth armed with a gun in his driveway, Scherzer cocked the shotgun in an attempt to scare him off. The 17-year-old then threatened to kill him and fired three shots into the house. Scherzer returned fire, wounding the teen, then held him for police. (The Mercury News, San Jose, Calif., 4/26/1991)
Raymond Ramirez of Jamaica Plain, Mass., was leaving a party at a housing project when he was surrounded by a knife-wielding gang. Ramirez identified himself as a Boston police officer and warned the youths to back away, then fired two warning shots after they refused. When one gang member with a knife kept coming, Ramirez shot him in the leg. Said a Boston police deputy superintendent, "Thank God he was an officer. A civilian might be dead.” (The Herald, Boston, Mass., 3/12/1990)
A 44-year-old woman was surprised on her birthday by a man who crept into her house shortly after she set the security alarm. When the alarm sounded, the woman soon found herself face to face with the intruder. "You better leave, or I'm going to shoot you," she said. The man disregarded the warning and continued to advance. The woman fired one shot, which sent the man fleeing into the night. (The Scottsdale Tribune, Scottsdale, Ariz., 5/16/1998)
Bernie Ames, a Hempstead, New York, bookstore owner, didn't count on his 69th birthday being quite so exciting. Ames was behind the counter of his store when a crack addict walked in and demanded money. Ames threw a bag of money at the robber and pulled his own .38 and fired. Wounded, the crook fled, but was quickly apprehended. Affirming Ames' actions, police said the drug abuser had a long criminal record. (Newsday, Long Island, N.Y., 2/11/1994)
Celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary, Steve and Shelly Robertson had just checked into a motel in Midvale, Utah, when someone knocked on their door. Having earlier noticed several men loitering in the motel's parking lot, Robertson picked up a pistol while his wife answered the knock. When three intruders burst into the room, Robertson fired twice, wounding two of them, one mortally. (The Deseret, Salt Lake City, Utah, 5/19/1991)
On her 52nd birthday Kathryn Cleckler of Selma, Ala., was awakened in the early morning hours by the sounds of an intruder trying to break in the front door of her mobile home. She managed to dial 911 just as the man entered, and when he rushed toward her, she drew a pistol and shot him. Cleckler ran from the house; her attacker followed but collapsed not far from the trailer. (The Advertiser and Alabama Journal, Montgomery, Ala., 12/10/1988)
It was New Year's Eve in a Detroit suburb when three men—two of them carrying pistols—broke through a back window and confronted a middle-aged woman in her den. The trio demanded money and inquired as to the whereabouts of her husband. The husband then came out of the bedroom and opened fire with his shotgun. The blast critically injured one bandit and sent the other two scurrying into the arms of nearby police. (The Free Press, Detroit, Mich., 3/1/1979)