What Would You Do?
"When it comes to your child, you don't
know what you'll do," said Memphis, Tennessee resident Patsy Tankersley.
"I knew I had to protect my daughter."
It was January 26, 1994, and the mother was home with her six-year-old. Late in
the afternoon, Tankersley stepped onto her carport. Two men who were hiding
outside grabbed her. She had seen them loitering in the neighborhood earlier,
but had thought nothing about it. The assailants used a knife to force the
terrified mother back into the house. During the struggle, Tankersley was
stabbed in the chest.
Once inside, the men robbed her.
"They said they wanted my purse," Tankersley told a reporter from the
Memphis Commercial Appeal. "I told them they could take it and showed them
where it was. I thought they'd leave."
But they didn't.
"Take your pants down!" one of the intruders commanded.
When she refused, the second assailant grabbed her daughter and placed a knife
to the girl's throat.
Tankersley then told the men she'd do what they wanted.
They ordered her to go into the bedroom and come back out naked.
Instead, Tankersley returned carrying a .22-caliber revolver. She blasted four
shots at the home invaders, hitting one in the chest and sending the other man
During the attack, the child's throat was slashed, later requiring 18 stitches.
Despite the wounds, both the mother and daughter survived.
Lance Corporal Rayna Ross was a single mom, and
a U. S. Marine.
She had recently broken off a brief romance with another Marine, Anthony Goree.
But the mentally unstable man wouldn't leave her alone. Her attorney, Evans
Roberts, summarized what happened to her.
"After [weeks of] being stalked,
harassed, beaten, and held against her will," Roberts said, "LCPL
Ross did the right thing. She pressed charges. Her assailant was arrested and
confined to the brig after an armed assault of Ross in her battalion office.
[But] based on the recommendation of a reviewing officer, Goree was released
and almost immediately absented himself from the base. Despite the best
efforts of the Marine Corps and the Prince William County, Virginia police, he
was not found--until his final attack on Ross."
It happened at 3 a.m., June 23, 1993.
Ross and her daughter were asleep on the same bed in their Woodbridge, Virginia
apartment when Goree pried open the sliding glass door. Once inside, he kicked
down her bedroom door and attacked her with a bayonet. Shielding her daughter,
Ross fired two shots from a .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun, killing Goree.
(She'd bought the gun a few days earlier because of Goree's threats.)
The Prince William County Police Department quickly ruled the shooting
justifiable. Investigating detective Richard Cantarella testified,
"There was no question that this was
self-defense. I believe this guy was in there to do some serious bodily harm
or to kill her."
But after reviewing the case, the Marine Corps
recommended that Ross be court-martialed. Their reasoning was that she was a
"spider woman who lured men into untenable positions then dumped
"I'm appalled, but not surprised," said Patricia Ghormley, a former
Marine and Director for the Military Project of the Women's Resource and
Education Institute. "They couldn't get a single conviction in Tailhook,
but, by God, they're going to get her."
The National Rifle Association rushed to Ross's aid, hiring a former Marine to
be her attorney. She was eventually acquitted, but was forced to resign from the
March 16, 1996 was just another day for the
owners of Southwest Precious Metals in Richardson, Texas. Robert Shelton was at
the counter of the store and his wife, Becky, was working in the office when two
men entered. One took a position near the door while the second man walked to
the glass counter. He asked to see a 1-carat diamond ring. As Shelton reached
down to retrieve the ring, the man yanked a 9mm semi-automatic pistol from his
He pointed it at Shelton and pulled the trigger.
The weapon jammed.
The robber then vaulted the counter and attacked Shelton as the second robber
Becky Shelton heard the commotion and grabbed a .38-caliber revolver. The
struggle was desperate now, with the robber knocking Shelton to the floor in a
violent assault. Again and again the assailant stuck the gun to Shelton's chest
and pulled the trigger. Each time it jammed.
As the battle spilled into the doorway of the office, Becky Shelton stood up and
aimed. She fired six times, striking the robber with each shot and killing him.
Police ruled the shooting justifiable homicide.
I have a question for the gun-banners:
In these cases, what would you have done?
Mr. Waters is the author of The
Best Defense: True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves with a