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Homeowner save himself and wife from violent burglar

Originally ran here as:
Burglar, man trade gunshots
By RON COLQUITT, Mobile Register Staff Reporter
August 14, 2001

ALABAMA -- Gunfire erupted outside a home in north Mobile County Monday when a man and his wife surprised two burglars leaving their daughter's home, authorities said.

Bill Stuckey said when he interrupted the two men, one of them pointed a pistol at him. It was like "looking the devil in the eye," he said.

The 57-seven-year old Stuckey said he was lucky because the man fired over his head.

Stuckey said he returned fire with his .357-magnum revolver, missing the two men but causing them to flee.

Stuckey's daughter, Elizabeth Stuckey, owns the house where the 8:30 a.m. burglary occurred. His other daughter, Christina Stuckey, lives with her sister, but no one was home at the time of the break-in.

Two dozen Mobile County Sheriff's Department deputies, aided by tracking dogs, arrested Ganester Sales and Julius Riggins, about three hours later. They were about three miles from the burglarized home off Lott Road in the 9000 block of Spice Road Extension.

Deputy Chad Tucker said one of the suspects shot at but missed a deputy when the men were cornered in the wooded area near Schillinger and Lott roads.

"This is a fine example of what good teamwork can accomplish," Sheriff Jack Tillman said. The K-9 units involved in this search proved invaluable, Tillman said. "They amazingly led deputies to the exact spot where these guys were hiding."

Both of the 22-year-old Prichard men have extensive arrest records ranging from burglary to receiving stolen property. Tucker said deputies were investigating to determine whether the suspects may have committed other burglaries in the county.

Monday night they were in the Mobile County Metro Jail being held without bond. Riggins was being held on charges of reckless endangerment, first-degree receiving stolen property and first-degree burglary. Ganester was being held on charges of first-degree burglary, false reporting to a law enforcement officer and probation violation.

Tucker said the case remained under investigation. The pistol one of the suspects fired at Stuckey and the deputy had not been found, he said.

Christina Stuckey said Friday afternoon that although the burglars thoroughly searched her home -- going through drawers and closets and looking under mattresses -- the only thing that was missing was some jewelry that had not been recovered. The missing jewelry wasn't particularly valuable, but the pieces were family heirlooms that meant a lot to her, she said.

Bill Stuckey said he was at his meat packing business on nearby McCrary Road when one of his daughters' neighbors called and told him two "suspicious looking" men had been lurking around the house.

He said he drove to the house, and he saw an older-model burgundy car when he pulled into the rear driveway.

At that time, Stuckey said, the men stepped out of the back door and one of them pointed a pistol at him like he was going to shoot. But, he said, the man changed his mind and fired into the air.

"He had a clear, good shot, and he didn't take it at me" said Stuckey, who was sitting in his pickup truck with his wife at the time. "He raised the gun up and shot, and then I let my window down, raised my pistol as he was starting to move away from the door, and shot at them twice."

Stuckey said the man was about 20 feet from him.

"I'm fine. I'm just grateful he didn't take his first shot; he would have gotten me," Stuckey said. "I was sitting dead still."

Stuckey said he didn't know what kind of pistol the man had, but "it was a great big one, it looked like a cannon."

Christina Stuckey said she was just thankful that the shooter aimed for the sky instead of at her father.

"I'm just more than thankful my parents were not injured. Stuff is not important; people are important; to heck with the rest of it."

Mobile County court records show that Riggins has been arrested 14 times since 1999 on charges ranging from burglary to receiving stolen property.

Twice in 1999 he pleaded guilty to second-degree receiving stolen property.

The records show that Ganester was arrested 12 times in 1998 and 1999 on charges ranging from reckless endangerment to receiving stolen property.

He pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, a legal term for discharging a gun, in 1999 and the same year pleaded guilty to first-degree receiving stolen property.

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