Great-grandmother who shot robber says ‘God was with me’
COLUMBUS (MCT) — When an armed robber barged into a North Side motel room Wednesday night and ordered the six people there to the floor, he put a 70-year-old woman closer to her handgun.
The great-grandmother knelt between the beds, reached into her purse on the floor and pulled out her .357 Magnum pistol.
She fired one shot at the robber, who staggered from the room, collapsed in the parking lot and died.
“It’s a wonder she didn’t shoot us all,” said her 51-year-old son, who was preparing to hand over his cash when he heard the gunshot. “She’s the worst shot in the world.
“She said to me, ‘God was with me tonight. You know I couldn’t have done that myself.’”
None of the family members, who live in Ironton, wanted to be identified, fearing retaliation; and the woman didn’t want to be interviewed. They have moved to a different room in the motel.
“She’s torn all to pieces,” her son said. “Who would ever want to shoot someone?”
Wayne Winston, 25, died of a single gunshot wound in the chest, Franklin County Coroner Jan Gorniak said yesterday. Police listed his address as “streets of Columbus.”
The woman has a permit to carry a concealed gun, her son said, and carries the gun she inherited from her late husband.
Asked to describe his mother, he said, “Religious. She’s always been my hero.”
The family was staying in a first-floor room at the Continent Inn, near I-71 and Rt. 161, while attending the All-American Quarter Horse Congress. The son said he was in the room with his mother, his wife, his daughter and son-in-law and a family friend.
The door was partially open so the adults could stay within earshot of two girls, ages 12 and 17, in the room next door.
The son said the door flew open shortly after 9 p.m. and they found themselves confronted by a man who pointed a black handgun at them and said, “Everybody here knows what the game is.” He told them to get on the floor and began demanding money from the son and his son-in-law, who were closest to the door. The gunman seemed angry that the son-in-law had only $14.
“I was going into my pocket for money” when a shot rang out and the gunman ran from the room, the son said. “I thought I was shot. I didn’t realize my mother had shot him. It was mass chaos.”
He still wasn’t sure what had happened when he went outside and saw the intruder’s body in the parking lot. Then he heard a second shot. His mother, the gun at her side, had tensed up and “squeezed off another shot into the floor,” he said.
Columbus police don’t expect to file charges against the woman but said the case probably will be presented to a Franklin County grand jury as a routine procedure. The son said the officers who met with his family were “extremely supportive.”
He has a horse farm and is attending the Quarter Horse Congress to watch his 21-year-old daughter compete and to support others who train at his farm.
Word of the shooting spread quickly yesterday among those attending the event, which is in its third and final week at the Ohio Expo Center.
“That’s a hell of a woman,” said George Wyeth, 63, of Claysville, Pa. “I don’t blame her a bit. You pull a gun on someone, you ought to get shot.”
“I give her a lot of credit,” said Beverly Hicks, 77, of Perrysburg in northwestern Ohio, who doesn’t know many people her age who carry guns. “I’d be afraid to carry a gun.”
Police Sgt. Ken Tischler, a community liaison officer, said armed robberies of motel guests near the Continent are rare, but he had warned people attending the Congress about a rash of vehicle break-ins at motels in the I-71 and Rt. 161 area — 102 thefts from autos between mid-August and late September.