A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Comedy of Errors

"It's 2 o'clock in the morning! You need to go home to bed!" shouted Judie Martel. As the snow drifted through the night outside her home, Mrs. Martel had fallen asleep on the sofa. She was jolted awake by a pounding on her front door. "My first thought was, 'Is that thunder?'" she said, "The windows were rattling."

The noise was not the weather. Mrs. Martel confronted a man entering her shattered door with all that she had at her disposal......a tongue lashing. Then she shoved the man back through the door and barricaded it as best she could. She peered out the window to see if the intruder had left.

Through the darkness she could make out the shape of the man walking through the snow to the other side of her home. He held a bag in his hands. Judie Martel immediately regretted not locking her kitchen door that night. She knew without checking that the kitchen door was unlocked. She seldom locked it, after all, this was Kennebunk Maine, not Detroit Michigan. Rather than locking the door however, she ran upstairs to awaken her husband, a Vietnam vet.

Now, one would think that a Vietnam vet would know what to do. I have to give John Martel credit. He grabbed his shotgun. Then he grabbed the one, the only shotgun shell that he kept in his home. Thus armed, John Martel ran outside towards the shadowy figure in his snow covered yard. When the intruder saw the homeowner with the shotgun, he turned to run.

John Martel fired his one and only shotgun shell over the running man's head. Intentionally. On purpose. Blam! An effective home defense tool became a club. "I was going to shoot to kill," Martel said. "But I've had enough of killing. I shot over his head and he ran up the road."

The police arrived with the radios crackling. Neighbors had called 911 and reported the gunshot and two men running through the neighborhood. The first intruder, Sean Barker, was captured almost immediately while attempting to enter another home. It took a State Police K9 unit to track his buddy Eric Wallace down. The dogs found his backpack, which contained his ID. Although both men were in their early twenties, they each had criminal records and a history illicit drug use. The footprints in the snow showed the men had cased several homes before selecting a victim.

I am happy this couple survived their home invasion, but I have to think it was by Divine providence. The couple is shopping for dead bolt locks, and are considering a large dog to protect them. Judie Martel, a social worker, is trying to view the experience in the most positive framework. "We are very blessed," she says. Her husband is also seeking to reconcile the experience.

"If they had harmed her, I wouldn't have shot in the air," he claims. Well, Mr. Martel, if you have one damned shotgun shell, what the Hell do you plan to do if they decide to harm you and her after you shoot your wad in the air?

It's news reports like these that frustrate me the most. They lay seed to the illusion that blind luck and "blessedness" will save a life. Luck does play a part, to be certain, but Lady Luck favors the person who is prepared. Those deadbolts? They are not going to work if you don't use them. A dog? How about learning to protect yourself? Go buy a box of shotgun shells and quit playing Barney Fife.

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Anonymous Mr.Potato said...

End result - good.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Mr.Potato said...

Actually the old man might have known the law. You can not use a deadly force outside of your residence unless of course you're attacked and fear for your life but the kid was running away.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Keith Walker said...

Very well spoken.

9:49 PM  
Blogger kbarrett said...

Mr. Potato: depends on the jurisdiction. Don't assume socialist state laws as the standard. In some states, merely trespassing at night near someone's home is enough to justify shooting.

Warning shots = teh stupid.

If you aren't justified to shoot, you don't even show a firearm. If shooting is justified, you shoot to stop the bad behavior that justifies the shooting.

10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think even shooting a warning shot is legal in most places. The BG was fleeing, and Barney & wife were no longer in danger. Go back into the house and call the police would have been smarter.

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if they was running, why he be shooting? if i was him, i'd be in jail for sure on this one.

6:01 AM  
Anonymous FatWhiteMan said...

Hah, it was probably a No. 8 birdshot shell anyway. Though I agree this is foolish behavior, this story does point out that a lot of crimes can be prevented when the victim is armed without the need to even firing a shot. I believe that this happens far more than the media will ever report as they prefer a story with bloodshed.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Jack said...

Mr. Potato, if Mr. Martel did know the law - if it is indeed what you say it is in Kennebunk, Maine - and if he wanted to obey it, he wouldn't have shot at all, even if it was to warn the intruder.

Also, obeying such a law doesn't "de-retard" the mindset of wasting ammunition. Mr. Martel should have just waited with his loaded shotgun on his property until the intruder was out of sight.

God be praised the couple came to no harm.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those boys weren't looking for drug money to pay for artificially-inflated drug prices, no. One look at those eyes will tell you.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Mr.Potato said...

Agreed. He shouldn't have fired the warning shot at all. But it is easy to say for us armchair quarterbacks.

He might have had a flashback about shooting a man in the back...

Next time I bet he'll have a box of 3" shells ready. It's one thing scaring the sheet out of a BG, but not at the expense of wasting your last shell.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous miguel said...

it might be wrong shooting someone who is running away after someone tried to break in.... but would have off ... no jury would sent him to jail
bucksport maine

1:26 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

God loves idiots.......sometimes. Better to be able to protect yourself.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fine exampel of how real life incidents often result in a cluster of strange f..k-ups when the shit hit's the fan, and no one realy was expecting the indians to attack the fortress...

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Then she shoved the man back through the door and barricaded it as best she could"

What? How the hell did she manage that? The guy just knocked the door down with his bare hands... She must have been one big, strong lady!

The shot fired after the bad guys ran away was pretty stupid, maybe he had an ND and was too embarrassed to admit it?

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to forward stories like this to friends in an attempt to awaken them to the need to take precautions to protect themselves and their families. Every single one of them accused me of being paranoid, a gun nut, or psychologically unbalanced, and told me to never send them spam email again. I got the same reaction when I forwarded some disaster preparation email. I no longer forward any information to any of my "friends".

It will be interesting to see if any of them will change their tune when the wolf in the form of a terrorist incident, a predator, or a weather related incident shows up on their doorstep.

I'm now convinced that some people were put on this earth to be prey.

4:41 AM  
Anonymous Caleb said...

Generally, if a combat vet says "But I've had enough of killing", I would sort of consider it impolite to suggest that he load up and start blasting people.

Self defense is a deeply personal thing - especially for people who have actually taken a life before. It might be extremely difficult for them to reconcile taking that sort of action against their conscience.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I don't know Caleb. I am a combat vet who doesn't want to have to kill.

I would still advise using my only shotgun shell in defense of my wife if she were threatened rather than shoot it off in the air. I would also advise people to have more than one round for self defense, whether they are combat vets or not. I'm not advising anyone to "load up and start blasting people."

Some might see that as impolite, and that's OK. They have a right to their opinion as well.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Ahab said...

That's fair - I guess I just sort of had a knee-jerk reaction to the folks suggesting that he shoot the guy.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Geoffrey said...

Glad it turned out OK for them, but all I can think is that with limited ammunition, especially a single shell, his margin for error was virtually non-existent.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Rick "9mm" Ector said...

As a Detroiter, I didn't like the "Detroit" joke but it is an informative story that needs to be told. Danger can arrive to your doorstep at any moment in any town. Be prepared. Be armed.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Actually rick,i would have used New Orleans,except that some of the people there still leave their doors and windows open at night due to the heat.

No offense intended to Detroit.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous TJP said...


I think most folks expressed that they would be pretty uncomfortable shooting a retreating criminal in the back. I'm no exception. So we're right there with you regarding pointless injury or killing.

What I don't get is why the homeowner fired at all. I'd hate to be the neighbor whose bedroom window serves as the backstop for a load of buckshot fired in some random direction above the zero degree plane. It's difficult for me to reconcile this with his expressed desire not to kill anyone.

7:20 PM  

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