Light glinting off steel. A bright-red dot in a dark room. The rack of a shotgun. A shouted warning of impending danger. When criminals are faced with the realization that their target is armed, some are smart enough to call it a day.
Video store owner David Ragan had to react quickly one Friday afternoon when a 6-foot, 2-inch, razor-wielding "customer" appeared at his counter. After the man grabbed him, Ragan dropped to his knees, sliding out of his loose-fitting shirt. He used his left hand to hit the panic button and with his right hand grabbed his gun, which he is licensed to carry. A customer walking in the store minutes later found the 5-foot, 9-inch Ragan naked from the waist up and staring down at the man who was now spread-eagled on the floor. Ragan, who has a history of positive community activism, was quoted as saying, "I don't want to be killed but I'm not going to take it. It's going to take more of us fighting back to send a message to these criminals that you can't get away with this." The suspect was arrested six minutes after the incident by police and was charged with first-degree robbery, possession of a deadly weapon during a felony and carrying a concealed deadly weapon, according to state police spokesman Cpl. Preston Lewis. (Sunday News Journal, Wilmington, Del., 1/25/98)
Frank Dorris, a horseradish farmer in Mameoki Township, Ill., had been burglarized five times, so he became suspicious of a car parked in front of a home whose owner had recently died. Dorris approached the vehicle with his pistol and detained its occupant. A man inside the house fled, pursued by some of Dorris' friends and authorities. He was apprehended when a police dog held him at bay. (The Sun, St. Louis, Mo., 03/23/90)
When a drug-trafficking suspect fleeing a state police traffic stop ran through an Ocala, Fla., campground, he was spotted by the manager. Leonard Hicks armed himself and held the man at gunpoint for pursuing officers. An officer later commented, "We wouldn't have caught the suspect if it hadn't been for him." (The Star-Banner, Ocala, Fla., 8/01/90)
A would-be robber entered a Huntington, W.Va., gas station, brandished a gun and demanded money from the attendant. The attendant pulled a handgun of his own and said, "Now we have a Mexican standoff." The burglar held his gun in the air and said, "I'm going," and fled the premises without the money. (The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W.Va., 12/31/86)
A proposed fishing trip to their rural Deschutes County, Ore., vacation property netted Ken Trinklein and Art Daley an unexpected catch. Upon arrival they were faced with a pickup making off with a load of personal belongings. They blocked the getaway with their own vehicle, and while Daley went to summon the sheriff, Trinklein stood guard over a pair of youthful criminals, a .357 Mag. revolver stuck in his belt. (The Bulletin, Bend, Ore., 06/05/83)
Ward Yont, 17, was cruising a Phoenix, Ariz., street in his pickup truck when he saw a young hoodlum snatch a purse from an old woman and run. Yont pursued the criminal for several blocks, both in the truck and on foot, before catching him and holding him for police with his .38 cal. revolver. A police officer on the scene said, "I wish we had more citizens in town who would get involved like that." (The Gazette, Phoenix, Ariz., 06/01/82)
Near Jefferson City, Mo., 16-year-old Judy Nolte, alone with three younger Nolte children, grabbed a double-barrel shotgun and, with the aid of pet bulldog Mickey, routed a stranger forcing his way into the house. Police captured the intruder and identified him as an escaped convict. (Associated Press, 01/01/61)