DENVER, COLORADO -- A woman who was paralyzed seven years ago while trying to help a rape victim shot and wounded a gunman in her yard early Sunday.
Jaquie Creazzo, 38, was armed when she went outside in her wheelchair with her three daughters, ages 16, 18, and 19, after smoke from a car fire seeped into her Jefferson County home at 3:15 a.m.
Justin Michael Getz, 21, who is suspected of setting the car ablaze to lure the Creazzos out of their house, came toward them screaming and firing two pistols, Creazzo said. "He was loaded for bears," she said.
Getz, the former boyfriend of Creazzo's eldest child, had pledged two days earlier to kill Creazzo and her three daughters after the oldest girl refused to reunite with him, Creazzo said.
Two firefighters and Creazzo's three daughters dove out of the way of the erratic gunfire, she said.
But instinctively, Creazzo fired a volley of bullets. One struck the attacker's leg and he fell. "I'm certain that if I hadn't responded, none of us would be here today," Creazzo said. "He had made threats to kill each and every one of us."
Getz was arrested on two counts of attempted murder, arson and attempted arson, Jefferson County sheriff's spokeswoman Jacki Tallman said. He was being held Monday in the Jefferson County Jail without bail, she said.
Sunday's attack was the second time Creazzo became a gunman's target.
Casino worker Rhonda Maloney, 33, was on her way home from work in the early morning hours of Feb. 12, 1994, when Robert Harlan kidnapped her at the intersection of interstates 76 and 25, then raped her for two hours. Maloney escaped in a car driven by Creazzo, who was driving by. Harlan gave chase and fired at least six shots into the vehicle, paralyzing Creazzo.
Harlan killed Maloney and was sentenced to death for her murder and rape. He remains on death row.
Shortly after Harlan's trial, Creazzo debated buying a gun. She said she was conflicted because friends told her criminals could take a gun away and use it on her.
"I had thought hundreds of times about using it," Creazzo said. "I had a lot of mixed emotions about it."
But too many people today have no respect for God or the law and she concluded she needed the gun for protection, she said.
"Some days I sit back and I don't know what this world is coming to," Creazzo said.
A single mother, Creazzo said she has always had a close relationship with her three daughters.
"I know what my kids are into," she said.
She said she had been trying for a long time to get her elder daughter to leave Getz. The young woman finally did as she completed an automotive repair course in Texas, Creazzo said.
But Getz came to Colorado to try to win her back, she said. When Creazzo's daughter refused, he allegedly threatened on Friday to kill her and her family.
Jefferson County sheriff's deputies had investigated the alleged threat Friday, but it came down to Creazzo's daughter's word against Getz's and he agreed to return to Texas, Creazzo said.
Still worried about the threats, Creazzo and her daughters slept together in the same bedroom Friday and Saturday night. They were awakened by the car fire, but remained in the house until firefighters appeared.
When Getz jumped out of the darkness, Creazzo was with two firemen and her daughters at the end of her driveway. She didn't have much time to react.
"The one thing that went through my mind was to protect my family," she said. "When I returned fire, he ducked for cover. I'd say more than anything, I was lucky."
Creazzo's daughters stayed home from school Monday.
"They're still shaky," she said. "To this day I'm a little queasy about it. It's hard to get over shooting an individual."
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