PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA -- When a masked gunman put a revolver to William Barry Raley's mother's head during a holdup Tuesday afternoon and threatened to kill her, the Millvale used-car dealer's only thought was to save her life.
William Barry Raley attacked the gunman, wrestled him to the ground and shot him with his own weapon, sending the masked man stumbling out of the auto dealership's office and falling down the stairs.
John Wesley Davis, 20, of Paul Court, Wilkinsburg, was taken to Allegheny General Hospital, North Side, where he was undergoing surgery last night for a gunshot wound of the shoulder. Davis, who was trying to rob Raley, will be arrested as soon as his health permits, police said.
Raley, 43, who is known in the community as "Barry," was pistol whipped before the shooting and suffered head injuries that required treatment by paramedics. His mother, Dorothy Raley, was shaken up by the incident but did not require medical treatment.
"I was in fear of her life. I was not going to let her get shot," Barry Raley said after the shooting at Grant Motors at the intersection of Ohio Street and Grant Avenue. "It was him or us."
Raley said the gunman also pushed Dorothy Raley around and fired a warning shot through the ceiling before putting the gun to her head and saying, "I'm shooting this (woman.)"
Police said that the shooting appears to be justified but that the investigation is continuing.
The incident began shortly after 3:30 p.m. when Davis walked into the house trailer that serves as Raley's office and began asking about automobiles on the lot.
"Before I knew it, he put a ski mask over his face and a gun to my face," said Raley as the blood continued to drip from his head, nearly three hours later.
Raley said he gave Davis all the money he was carrying, but the gunman wasn't satisfied.
"He was insisting there was more money. I have a small refrigerator he thought was a safe. He thought there was money all through the office," Raley said.
Davis went into Dorothy Raley's office, pushed her over a table and onto a couch, Barry Raley said.
"I was going to give him the keys to all the cars in the lot to appease him," Raley said.
Davis became angry, pistol whipping Raley and firing a shot into the ceiling.
"He knocked me to my knees. I was dazed. I don't remember if he shot first or hit me first."
After Barry Raley got back on his feet, Davis began following him out of Dorothy Raley's office back into the main office.
"She was following him. That's when he turned the pistol on her," Barry Raley said.
Raley attacked Davis.
"I wrestled him to the ground and shot him. I did what I thought was the right thing to do. I was not going to put her life in jeopardy under any circumstances. She's very, very important to me. If it happened again, I'd do it again."
Raley went outside, noticed a policeman driving by and fired a shot into the air to alert him he needed help.
When the officer drove into the lot, he found Davis lying at the foot of the office steps and the weapon lying on the porch railing.
Officers found three spent shells and three live rounds in the six-shot revolver.
Raley said it was the first time in his 13 years in business that someone tried to rob him.
"That's why I was taken aback by this. Had it just been me here & I don't know if I would have done the same thing," Raley said. "I save my mother's life. That's all that counts to me."
Michael Hasch can be reached at (412) 320-7820.
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