December 21, 2011
By Richard Nance
Three burglars in a suburban neighborhood in Albuquerque, N.M., got more than they bargained from 11-year-old resident, Alyssa Gutierrez. Since Gutierrez' cousin left her alone in the house only moments earlier, she initially dismissed the sound of the door handle rattling as her cousin trying to scare her. In response, she turned up the volume on the television to ignore him.
When three teenaged burglars forced open the door with a crowbar and entered the residence, Gutierrez slid down from the couch where she had been seated in attempt to hide. The masked intruders spotted her and she realized that one of them was armed with a rifle. Gutierrez ran to her mother's bedroom and retrieved a .22 caliber rifle with a pink stock. The bolt action rifle was loaded with only two rounds.
Gutierrez, who had learned to shoot just days earlier, said, "I was planning if they came right next to me, I would shoot them." Gutierrez searched the residence while armed with the rifle. Fortunately, all three burglars ran out of the residence and jumped a fence, where they were apprehended by an off-duty police officer. Gutierrez' parents knew one of the burglars and believed he intended to steal firearms from the residence.
Obviously, Gutierrez did an absolutely outstanding job, especially given her age and relative inexperience with firearms. However, based on the information available, it sounds like there were a couple things Gutierrez could have done even better.
Ideally, she would have called 911 to get the police started toward the residence. But with precious little time to act, it's hard to fault her for opting for the rifle over the phone. Deciding to search the residence for three burglars, at least one of which was known to be armed, was probably not the best decision, particularly when there were only two rounds in her rifle. Gutierrez would have been better off to seek cover and wait behind a locked door, with her rifle at the ready. Perhaps this would have given her time to call 911.
Have you ever spoken to your loved ones about what they should do if they were home alone when someone broke into your residence? Do they know where your gun is kept, how to load it, and if necessary, how to shoot it to defend themselves?
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