It’s said that “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”
A shooting in Arizona this past May illustrates this graphically, and in 911 audio, when a widow on the phone with 911 was forced to shoot a home invader–named Michael Lewis, most definitely not the fine author–while waiting for police to arrive.
The 911 audio, embedded below, shows that from the initiation of the call to when the intruder enters the home took only just over a minute.
One minute and 16 seconds later, the home invader finds the widow hiding in her bathroom. He attacks her immediately.
After 14 seconds of being beaten, the widow fires her revolver, on which she had been trained by her deceased husband, once (at about 2:30 on the audio).
It is not until 6:10 on the audio that the responding officers arrive. Horrifyingly, from the time the shot was fired until they arrived–nearly four full minutes–the widow was trapped in her bathroom by the body of the shot but still alert and functional home invader blocking the doorway.
Notably, the invader’s reaction to being shot is yet another testament to the myth of handgun stopping power:
“Ow! (Expletive.) What was that? What was that? What was that? (Expletive) did you do?”
Of course, we know nothing of the shot placement. Nor, for that matter, did the widow. When asked by the police where she shot the home invader, she responds: “In my bathroom.”
Also notable is the quite obvious stress clearly audible in her voice as she speaks with 911. I’ve received calls from clients in the seconds after they’ve experienced a gun use incident, and it pretty much always sounds the same way, as if they are hyperventilating.
Imagine if she’d not had that .38 Special revolver? I expect we’d be reading about a murdered homeowner, rather than a wounded home invader.
Also note that this widow obviously had the revolver located in such a way that she could retrieve it quickly when she realized someone was testing her doors and windows in an effort to invade her home. It wasn’t buried in some box up in the attic, it was locked in a gun safe to which she had to look up the combination in her rolodex. She was able to get to her gun, call 911, find a place of hiding, and still be able to respond effectively to the threat. Obviously guns must be kept secure from unauthorized hands, but it should be easily obvious that they also need to be quickly accessible. Fortunately, we are blessed with many excellent products on the market to serve this purpose.
The only real suggestion I might make from a tactical perspective is that she did not fire the instant she had the home invader in her sights across the bathroom threshold. Had this home invader chosen to attack her with a knife or a gun of his own she would certainly have been grievously wounded, perhaps mortally so, during the 14 seconds she waited to fire. Indeed, at 5:12 of the audio the widow tells 911 that during the attack upon her she dropped her phone “and I almost dropped the gun.”
“I almost dropped the gun.” Imagine how different things might have turned out had that happened?
I also would be inclined to suggest firing more than a single round, unless a single round was somehow decisive (highly unlikely), but the constraints of a low-capacity revolver mitigate against that.
Home invader Michael Lewis pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and aggravated assault. He was, unbelievably, granted bond last week and is out awaiting sentencing on Sept. 15. (It simply boggles the mind that a confessed home invader would be released on bond only three weeks before his sentencing. Odds on him showing up for sentencing, anybody? Oofah.)
Here’s the full-length 911 audio, followed by a transcript below.
TRANSCRIPT OF THE 911 CALL OF MAY 6, 2014
Dispatcher: Phoenix 911 where is your emergency? Hello? 911.
Homeowner: (Garbled)…please help me. Somebody is trying to get into my house.
Dispatcher: Okay, what are they doing?
Homeowner: They’ve tried my front door, my front door, and now they’re trying to break in my back gate.
Dispatcher: Okay, stay on the line with me, I’ve already got officers started. Do not hang up. Okay?
Homeowner: (Garbled)…I have a gun in my hands. I’m terrified.
Dispatcher: Okay. I’ve already got officers already on the way. I’m going to keep you on the phone until officers get there, okay? Just…
Dispatcher: …the back gate now?
Homeowner: I think they’re in the back now.
Homeowner: Somebody is in the back on my porch.
Dispatcher: Somebody is on your porch?
Homeowner) Please hurry! Please!
Dispatcher: Ma’am, they’re coming out there as fast as they can. Can you see anybody?
Dispatcher: I’m not asking you to look but, but did you see anyone? Like, are there any open windows?
Homeowner: No but somebody is banging on my arcadia door.
Dispatcher: Okay. Are you expecting anybody?
Homeowner: No. There’s nobody (garbled) outside in my driveway (garbled).
Dispatcher: Like I said, I want to keep you on the phone until officers get there, okay? Do not hang up. I’ve got a lot of officers…(garbled).
Homeowner: They just broke in.
Dispatcher: It just, they, it just broke?
Homeowner) Yes. They broke my arcadia door.
Dispatcher: Okay, yes, I’ve got them coming out there. They’re coming out as fast as they can. Have you heard any voices?
Homeowner: No, they’re coming in right now.
Dispatcher: Okay. Tell me if you see them. Tell me what they look like, how many of them are armed, whether they’re men or women, women….
Homeowner: I just saw one.
Dispatcher: Just saw one? Okay. Did you see a person or a shadow of a person?
Homeowner: I see…. Hurry, hurry! They’re coming in right now, please, please, please, please!
Dispatcher: Yes. They’re coming out as fast as they. I promise you. They’re, they’re coming out there as fast as they can. I got a lot of officers responding. And, I’m getting, and as everything you’re telling me I’m typing in and other dispatchers are giving it to them immediately. They’re getting all of this information.
Homeowner: They’re breaking out my window.
Dispatcher: Are you in your bedroom or?
Homeowner: My bathroom.
Dispatchers: Yes. They’re coming out as fast as they can I’ve got a lot of officers responding. Is there an alley behind your house?
Homeowner: (Whispering) yes.
Dispatcher: You back up to the canal, right?
Homeowner: (Whispering) yes.
Dispatcher: Yes. Okay. You don’t need to answer anything. I’m just going to stay on the line with you. Okay?
(Garbled screaming. Phone dials. Gunshot.)
Michael Lewis: Ow! (Expletive.) What was that? What was that? What was that? (Expletive) did you do?
Dispatcher: What happened?
Homeowner: Did you think you could beat me half to death?
Michael Lewis: I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Homeowner: What did you come in my house for?
Homeowner: I shot him.
Dispatcher: You shot him?
Michael Lewis: Oh my God!
Dispatcher: Okay! I’ve got them, I’ve got everybody coming out for help. Okay?
Homeowner: Please hurry.
Homeowner: Don’t get up or I’ll shoot your (expletive) again!
Dispatcher: Okay. Where did you shoot him? Ma’am, where did you shoot him at?
Homeowner: In my house. He’s in my bathroom.
Dispatcher: No, no, where in his body?
Dispatcher: Where in his body did you shoot him?
Dispatcher: Where in his body?
Homeowner: He’s laying half in the bathroom and half in my hallway. Where is his body?
Dispatcher: No, no, yes, like did you hit….
Homeowner: I don’t know.
Dispatcher: Okay. Okay, do you recognize him? Is he somebody….
Homeowner: No. I don’t recognize him.
Dispatcher: Okay, so he came into the bathroom where you were?
Homeowner: I’m in the front bathroom. (To Lewis) I said don’t move!
Michael Lewis: (Inaudible.)
Dispatcher: What is he saying?
Homeowner: He said he thought the house was abandoned. (To Lewis) Abandoned? (Garbled)…with the car and locked gates and yes.
Michael Lewis: (Inaudible.)
Homeowner: You bet you’re sorry you nasty thing. You tried to get in doors. I heard you out there and….
Michael Lewis: (Inaudible.)
Homeowner: Because why should I unlock the door when you’re rattling and beating on everything and trying to climb my fence?
Dispatcher: Yes there’s no need to, the, the officers are going to be there in a few, just about every officer on that side of town is responding out there, okay?
Homeowner: Please get somebody here.
Dispatcher: They’re coming out as fast as they can. Are you hurt at all?
Homeowner: I don’t know. My face is bleeding from some place, I don’t know (garbled). I don’t know. He was beating on me.
Dispatcher: He was, who was hitting you?
Homeowner: He was beating on me when he found out I was in here. That’s why I dropped the phone and I almost dropped the gun but I ended up shooting.
Dispatcher: I’ve got them all coming out as fast as they can. They’re arriving in the area now, okay?
Dispatcher: When, when, when you hear them at the door I’m going to have to, you’re going to have to….
Homeowner: I’m not going to walk over the top of this guy.
Dispatcher: No, no. I’m not going to want you to leave the bathroom. I’m going to have them come to you but you’re going to have to put down the gun, not near him….
Homeowner: I will.
Dispatcher: Okay. Okay.
Michael Lewis: I’m here!
Dispatcher: I’m going to wait until you see the officers before I disconnect, okay? I’m showing they are there. They should be coming inside.
Officers: Police Department.
Homeowner: Come on back, I’ve put the gun down.
Dispatcher: Okay. I’m going to let you go now.
Homeowner: (Garbled) okay.
Dispatcher: All right. Bye bye.