Georgia mother goes mama bear on intruder, saves kids
We hearken back to early January 2013 for this edition of Defensive Gun Use, to honor a Georgia mom who tried to avoid a home invader by hiding herself and her kids, but finally drew the line.
Mrs. Bear, as we’ll call her, was a 37-year old working mom who was at home with her nine-year old twins when the trouble began at about 1:30 PM on a weekday. Like the pattern reported by convicted burglars in a study we reported on recently, Paul Ali Slater knocked before entering. In fact, he knocked repeatedly, and followed that by repeatedly ringing the doorbell.
Bear was naturally alarmed by the ruckus outside her door, and called her husband at work. He in turn called 911, and maintained phone connections with both his wife and emergency services during the shooting that followed. Mrs. Bear stayed on the phone as she sequestered herself and the children in an attic crawlspace.
Slater broke into the house and began, in Bear’s words, rummaging through their belongings. The mother and kids waited as the intruder got closer. Eventually, he opened the door to their hiding place—another bad move on his part.
Mrs. Bear had a revolver with her, and opened fire. News accounts give divergent information on exactly where the shots landed, but they agree that five of the six rounds hit their target. One account says the bullets struck him in the head and neck. Another says they penetrated his lung, stomach, and liver—a more likely occurrence, with center mass presenting a bigger target.
Slater fled and made it off the Bear’s property in his car, but soon crashed and collapsed from his injuries. He survived and was sentenced, three months later, to 10 years in prison for burglary. Charges of aggravated battery were dropped as part of a plea bargain.
Mrs. Bear has been hailed as a heroine for protecting her children and herself, while being prepared with a safe retreat and a firearm.
Have ready access to a firearm, a saferoom, and a plan for securing family members. These are points discussed in previous defensive gun use reports, so a summary here will do. Your safe room should have no or very small windows, and as many bullet-stopping walls or contents as possible. Inside should be a light source, extra ammunition, emergency medical gear including a tourniquet and blood-clotting dressing, water, and, if you have babies, a diaper and formula. You could be in there a while.
Extra ammunition and bigger guns are your friend, at home. There is never a guarantee that, if your home is targeted for crime, you’ll face only one opponent. A handgun is a relatively weak defense against an animal the size of a human being! If a handgun is your weapon of choice, be sure to have plenty of ammo and know your reloading procedure! Your attacker, not you, determines when the encounter is over. You must be prepared to fight until the attack stops. Mrs. Bear had an empty cylinder at the end of this meeting, and may have been forced to resort to whatever tools were in the closet had Slater continued his approach. Slater is a big guy—a gun is this mother’s best choice of weapon.
Consider a shotgun or centerfire rifle for home defense, one with at least six-round capacity. Even rifles that shoot pistol-caliber cartridges generate a lot more bullet velocity, making them more likely to stop the threat with fewer hits.
Breathe and keep your head about you. Bear bought herself time and gave Slater every chance to change his mind by separating herself from the situation. The element of surprise was on her side. She apparently also had the presence of mind to either listen to her husband’s instruction, or perhaps listen to him while thinking for herself, during the incident. Reports say that he coached her, saying “shoot him!” And a few seconds later, as Slater could be heard getting closer, “shoot him again!”
Hats off to Mrs. Bear for saving herself and her family, not to mention making it unlikely Slater will try burglary, at least this way, ever again.