The Armed Citizen® | Motels

posted on February 1, 2017

Originally created in the 1930s to accommodate long-distance automobile travelers, motels offered the convenience of allowing motorists to drive right up to their rooms. Over time, however, this selling point has become a major safety liability—most motels schedule only one or two employees per shift, security is nonexistent, and close proximity to major highways offers criminals a quick means of escape. It’s no wonder, then, that many travelers consider their self-defense firearm a must-pack essential for motel stays, and many employees keep one behind the counter, just in case. 

A pizza delivery man was getting into his car following a delivery to a motel in West Melbourne, Fla., when a man armed with a knife confronted him and demanded cash. The delivery driver responded by retrieving a gun and firing at the criminal, killing him. An investigation revealed that the deceased criminal had a record that included aggravated battery, armed robbery and false imprisonment. Following the incident, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivy noted, “Preliminary evidence in the case demonstrates that the intended victim of the robbery acted in self-defense while being robbed by a violent criminal who was armed with a knife.” (Space Coast Daily, Brevard County, Fla., 08/24/13) 

Just before 6 a.m., a clerk was attempting to prepare breakfast at a Days Inn in Columbia, S.C., when she was confronted by an armed robber. The criminal put a knife to the clerk’s throat and made clear his intentions to rob and sexually assault her. Despite being 100 pounds lighter and a foot shorter than her attacker, the clerk fought back, retrieved a gun and shot the criminal in the chest, killing him. The Days Inn has been a recent target of criminal activity, with two previous robberies taking place in as many months. The deceased criminal was wanted by police for his connection to two other motel robberies. (WTVM, Columbia, S.C., 07/25/11) 

A Spenard, Alaska, motel clerk was alone at work early one morning when a man burst in waving a gun and demanding money. "He threw a gym bag down on the counter and said he wanted the whole thing," reported the worker, who was armed with a .38-cal. handgun for which he has a carry permit. The bandit's tenor intensified, however, when he realized there was little cash to steal. "He said he was going to kill me," said the clerk who, facing death, pulled the gun from his vest and fired twice. He was forced to shoot again seconds later when the man attempted to get up. The wounded, would-be robber finally surrendered and was transported to a hospital under the watchful eye of police. The robbery attempt marked the third such incident at the motel in only a month. (Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage, Alaska, 02/02/01) 

"I figured if they were going to shoot me, I was going to go down shooting them," was 70-year-old James Kelly's assessment of the armed robbery that occurred at the Indianapolis, Ind., motel where he works. When two men entered the hostelry and announced a robbery, Kelly pulled a .357 magnum. Firing twice, Kelly wounded one of the bandits and held both for police. (The Star, Indianapolis, Ind., 06/30/93) 

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, 05/19/91) 

Miami, Okla., motel owner Oba Edwards witnessed two policemen struggling with a man they were attempting to arrest and saw the man wrest away one officer's revolver, shoot and kill him. Edwards armed himself and fired a shot that allowed the remaining officer to recover his partner's revolver and fatally wound the attacker. The dead man was on probation for assault of a Texas police officer. (The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Okla., 06/07/88) 

Two men forced their way into Delores Berwick's Panama City Beach, Fla., motel room. While one intruder restrained her, the other began rifling through her possessions. Escaping from her attacker's grip, Berwick grabbed her .38-cal. revolver and opened fire, wounding one assailant. Police said no charges would be filed against Berwick and added that the 25-year-old woman acted within her rights in the shooting. (The News Herald, Panama City Beach, Fla., 10/05/87)

Herbert Cameron and his wife had checked into a Blanco, Texas, motel when someone knocked on the door of their room. Believing it to be the manager, Cameron opened the door, only to have three armed men knock him down as they entered. In an exchange of gunfire in which Cameron himself was wounded, the motel occupant killed two of his attackers and wounded the third. A county sheriff said no charges would be placed against Cameron, adding that all three suspects had lengthy police records. (The American-Statesman, Austin, Texas, 09/21/87)

James and Carol Patterson and their 7-year-old daughter had occupied a Banks County, Ga., motel room only a few minutes when two intruders kicked in the door. While her husband fought the men, Mrs. Patterson grabbed his pistol and locked herself in the bathroom. When one thug threatened to shoot the child, she emerged and fired a round that struck him in the head and sent his partner fleeing. (The Independent-Mail, Anderson, S.C., 05/15/83) 

A quintet of youthful extortionists threatened Council Bluff, Iowa, motel owner Rex Nelson with a tire tool and demanded his wallet. But they didn't count on the reaction of Nelson's wife Velma, who came to his rescue, driving the five away with a pistol. Police later caught the criminals on a highway outside of town. (The Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, Iowa, 12/15/80) 

Corbin, Ky., motel operator Ray Miracle came upon state trooper James Phelps attempting to subdue two drunken occupants of a stopped auto and, carrying his revolver, went to the officer's aid. At that point, another car stopped and one of two men inside levelled a gun on Trooper Phelps. Seeing Miracle's drawn gun, however, they hastily drove off. Kentucky State Police rewarded Miracle with their highest civilian honor. (The Times-Tribune, Corbin, Ky., 10/01/80)

As motel clerk Benjamin Renchenski was accosted by an armed bandit in Detroit, Mich., he purposely jammed the cash register and explained the trouble to the robber in a loud voice which attracted the attention of Charles Grisson, one of the owners. When Grisson saw the intruder holding a gun on his clerk, he fired three shots into the thug, who fell critically wounded. (The Free Press, Detroit, Mich., 04/01/64)


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