Sarah McKinley, an 18-year-old mother from the Oklahoma City area, lost her husband to cancer on Christmas day. As if that wasn't enough for McKinley to have to deal with, New Year's Eve culminated in her having to shoot and kill an intruder, 24-year-old Justin Martin, after he kicked in the door to her home and charged her with a 12-inch hunting knife.
According to ABC News, McKinley first met Martin on the day of her husband's funeral, when he came to her house and identified himself as a neighbor. At that time, Martin told McKinley that he just wanted to say hello. McKinley did not allow Martin into her residence.
Not to be deterred, Martin returned to McKinley's residence with Dustin Stewart on New Year's Eve. Armed with a large knife, Martin and Stewart, attempted to force entry into McKinley's residence. As one of them tried to enter from one door then another, McKinley armed herself and dialed 911.
McKinley could be heard on the recorded 911 line saying, "I've got two guns in my hand -- is it okay to shoot him if he comes in the door?" The dispatcher told McKinley, "I can't tell you that you can do that but you do what you have to do to protect your baby." And that is precisely what McKinley did.
McKinley was on the phone with the 911 operator for a total of 21 minutes. It's not clear at what point during that time she actually shot the intruder. Still, this incident clearly illustrates the importance of arming yourself as quickly as possible. But don't underestimate the importance of calling 911. Not only does this get police headed your way, the recording could be worth its weight in gold if you have to defend your actions to police or in a subsequent criminal or civil proceeding.
McKinley told ABC News Oklahoma affiliate KOCO, "I wouldn't have done it, but it was my son. It's not an easy decision to make, but it was either going to be him or my son. And it wasn't going to be my son. There's nothing more dangerous than a woman with a child."
Stewart fled the scene but soon turned himself in to authorities. Police are considering the shooting justified.
According to Detective Dan Huff of the Blanchard (Okla.) Police Department, "You're allowed to shoot an unauthorized person that is in your home. The law provides you the remedy, and sanctions the use of deadly force."
Since the shooting, McKinley has become a national sensation with politicians, celebrities and other public figures applauding her legal use of firearms. In an email to National Review Online, Palin said, "I'm all in favor of girls with guns who know their purpose." Palin said she loved "that young woman."
How familiar are you with the laws pertaining to home defense in your community? Does your state have a Castle Doctrine? When seconds count, the last thing you should be worrying about is whether or not you would be legally justified in shooting an intruder. A thorough understanding of the laws in your jurisdiction will better prepare you to respond appropriately and without hesitation.