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The Armed Citizen® | Phoenix

The Armed Citizen® | Phoenix

As the sixth-most populous city in the United States, Phoenix sees its share of big-city crime. While overall crime in the city has been dropping for decades, a wave of gang-related violence in the ‘80s and ‘90s and the subsequent rise in drug trafficking from Mexico inspired many in the Valley of the Sun to take their right to self-defense more seriously. Following are 12 stories from people who, we imagine, are glad they did.

A recently widowed woman was home alone in Phoenix, Ariz. when a man broke into her house through a back door. Once inside, the criminal attacked the woman with what may have been a garden tool. The woman responded by retrieving a gun and shooting the home invader, ending the attack. Following the incident, Phoenix Police Spokesman Tommy Thompson told a local news outlet, “I would say that anytime someone is in your house, they've assaulted you, broken into your house and assaulted you, you would say she appears to have been in the right at this point.” (KSAZ, Phoenix, Ariz., 5/6/2014) 

A 63-year-old South Phoenix homeowner was alarmed to see his living room window shatter and an arm come through the opening during an attempted break-in. Aware of other burglaries in his neighborhood, the resident feared for his safety and fired at the intruders, killing one who was later identified as Ronald Freese. The other burglar, Freese's brother Rudy, ran to a relative's nearby home seeking help for Ronald. Rudy Freese was arrested and charged with attempted burglary when he returned to the scene. He faces first-degree murder charges if found guilty of a crime that resulted in a death. (The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Ariz., 4/30/2004) 

A Phoenix, Ariz., construction equipment company had been hit by a string of burglaries, so the owners decided to take turns standing guard at night to ward off any more thieves. Early one Tuesday morning Douglas Click, one of the owners at Arizona Hi-Lift, was guarding the company armed with a shotgun. He confronted two men who were stealing items from the equipment yard, and they attacked him with a metal rod, according to Phoenix Police Detective Tony Morales. Click responded by firing at his attackers, and one was fatally wounded. Detective Morales said no charges would be filed against Click as he “was in fear of his life and he was being attacked.” (The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Ariz., 5/20/2003) 

A 24-year-old Phoenix, Ariz., man came to the aid of his neighbors by shooting their attacker. Investigators believe the shooting took place around 1:30 a.m., when a man identified as Martin Talavera showed up at a home on West Latham Street and began a loud argument with Jorge and Cardenia Guzman. Talavera allegedly shot both men. Upon hearing the commotion, the neighbor grabbed a gun and shot Talavera. He "did what he thought was right in a very deadly encounter," said Detective Tony Morales, a Phoenix police spokesperson. (The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Ariz., 3/29/2002) 

David Zamora found himself staving off more than a hunger attack late one evening as he sat behind the wheel of his Camaro in a Phoenix fast-food drive-through. When a man walked up and demanded that Zamora turn the car over to him, Zamora responded with a shot from his handgun, critically injuring the would-be carjacker. Three of the man's companions were arrested nearby. (The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Ariz., 6/5/1999)

When he heard screaming outside his Phoenix home, Joe Ligidakis looked out to see an elderly woman running across his front yard pursued by a male assailant who was beating her. Ligidakis grabbed a pistol and went outside to confront the man, who was savagely attacking the woman. Ligidakis’ quick thinking stopped the attack, and he was able to hold the attacker until police arrived. The suspect has since been linked to a series of 1994 rapes. (The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Ariz., 9/27/1997) 

A Phoenix motorist stopping at a convenience store for gas got the feeling that something was wrong when a "clerk" told him to take all the gas he wanted. The real clerk was handcuffed on the floor behind the counter with a gun to his head. The alert customer returned to his car, got his gun, and walked to a pay phone to call 911. Seeing this, the robber exited the store and began firing. The customer returned fire, hitting his target in the shoulder. Police arrested the wounded criminal later. (The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Ariz., 5/15/1994)

Phoenix resident John Steyer, 56, had to take a detour from his regular route home at 3 a.m. Feeling somewhat uneasy in the unfamiliar neighborhood, Steyer reached under his seat and unsnapped his pistol holster when a van pulled up next to him. Just then, one of the van's occupants opened the door and put a revolver to Steyer's head. Steyer knocked the gunman's arm away and grabbed his own pistol, firing once at the criminal's leg. Steyer then sped off and called the police, who found the wounded culprit still lying in the road. Police officials say Steyer did not commit any firearm violations, and he was later cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. (The Daily News Tribune, Tempe, Ariz., 4/20/1994) 

Awakened early one morning by his security system, Charles Tanner of Phoenix expected a cat to be the culprit, but took his .45 Colt just in case. Tanner opened his front door and found a man in his driveway. The man charged the homeowner and slammed through the screen door, prompting Tanner to fire four times, killing the intruder. "We had lots of firearms training. It all came back to me," said the former reserve county sheriff's deputy. (The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Ariz., 1/1/1994)

Startled awake by the sound of his front door being kicked in, Phoenix resident Fidel Zabala pulled a .44 Mag. from underneath his mattress and opened the door to his bedroom. Greeted by gunfire that wounded him in the hip and arm, Zabala returned fire. Zabala and the intruder grappled briefly, but the gunman's wounds proved to be mortal. (The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Ariz., 7/2/1993) 

Kim McCormack's opinion of Phoenix changed drastically after he and his fiancée became engaged in a rush hour gun battle that left his 14-month-old daughter wounded in the arm. Stopped for a traffic signal, McCormack pulled his truck forward after another car stopped alongside and the occupants flashed a handgun. When they started shooting, McCormack and fiancée Traci Updike pulled their own pistols and returned fire, driving their assailants away. "The city is not safe," McCormack said. "For us, our guns are like an American Express card. We never leave home without them." (The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Ariz., 4/8/1993) 

"I'm just glad I don't live in Morton Grove, Ill.," exclaimed Phoenix Gazette photographer Rick Giase. In mid-afternoon, he noticed a man peering in a rear window of his Phoenix home. As the photographer retrieved a pistol, the would-be thief began to break in the back door. Giase yelled a warning, then chased the man from the premises. With police officers, Giase searched the area and shortly thereafter was called on to identify a suspect, who allegedly had burglarized three other neighborhood residences. (The Gazette, Phoenix, Ariz., 4/9/1983)