It's not uncommon to hear stories of people defending their homes and themselves from intruders-- but when it's a 70-year-old woman, that story is a bit more uncommon.
It's exactly what happened in St. Joseph County on Sunday night, after an intruder broke into an elderly woman's home on Portage Road.
The woman held the man at gunpoint until police arrived. That man is 28-year-old Cyrus Brown. Brown is being held in jail on a number of charges, including burglary and intimidation.
The woman who defended herself is Sandra. She asked us not to use her last name. Newscenter 16 spoke to her by phone Monday night, while she recovered in her hospital room. She’s being treated for heart problems, problems she didn't have until Sunday night's scare.
As you'll hear, this 70-year-old is a gutsy lady who wasn't about to let anybody mess with her.
It was all started about nine o'clock Sunday night. Sandra says she was in the midst of splitting wood for her fire and making vegetable soup, when she heard a ruckus outside.
“All of a sudden, I’m hearing fast footsteps around my yard, around my deck,” says Sandra.
That's when she says she grabbed her gun and called 911. Moments later-- the intruder-- 28-year-old Cyrus Brown, broke through her back patio door, pushing his way through the glass.
“Immediately, I felt there was danger because he was so desperate,” explains the 70-year-old. “He's in the kitchen by the stove, I told him to get down on the floor. I said if you come any closer to me, I will shoot you to kill. I told him to sit down, don't move, and I want to see your hands at all times,” adds Sandra.
Newscenter 16 obtained the 911 call that Sandra made. In the background, you can hear her demanding the suspect get down.
Dispatch: “Ma’am, where is he at in the house?”
Sandra: “Get, get, get! You have more to fear from me!”
Dispatch: “Ma'am, are you holding him at gunpoint?”
Sandra: “Yes, I am. And if he moves towards me, I'm afraid I'm going to have to kill. I don't want to have to kill him.”
In that moment, Sandra says she was glad she had a gun and knew how to use it-- just in case.
“I thought that this could turn out badly because I heard of other people being murdered in their house, but I decided, I wasn't going to go down without a fight. I owe that to my children,” she explains. “Guns aren't all bad, only in the hands of the criminal and guns can be a good defense.”
In the end, you can hear the relief in Sandra's voice, as the police arrive at her back door.
Police: “Get down, get down!”
Dispatch: “Ma'am, can you put the gun down for me please?”
Sandra: “It's down.”
Dispatch: “Great, great, ok!”
If you'd like to listen to Sandra's 911 call in its entirety, we have a link at the top of this story.
Sandra is a mother of three and has several grandchildren.
She's set to have a procedure on her heart this week. As you can imagine, this whole situation has caused the 70-year-old a lot of stress.
She says she hopes others can learn from her story and think about protecting themselves. She’s hoping to have a neighborhood meeting in her area to discuss safety in homes.
ORIGINAL STORY: NEIGHBORHOOD REACTION
A man is in custody Sunday night after police say he tried to break into a home on St. Joseph County's northwest side.
It happened in the 51000-block of Portage near Brick Road.
Police say 28-year-old Cyrus Brown drove off the road and hit a utility pole on Portage. He then attempted to break into a nearby home.
When police arrived, they found an elderly female named Sandra holding the driver at gunpoint, awaiting their arrival. Sandra tells us she was scared to death and yelled at Brown to stay down. She says he begged her not to shoot.
"I would give her thumbs up and tell her to keep up the great work and I'm really proud of her," Lanore Evins, Sandra's neighbor, says. "He probably didn't want anyone to know that happened to him. That's probably a little embarrassing for him."
"He was a little combative at first," explains Sgt. Bill Redman, St. Joseph County Sheriff Department. "The officers had to wrestle with him to get him to comply with their orders. He didn't mess with the homeowner though."
Sandra is in the hospital with heart problems she says stemmed from the incident. She says her doctors say the situation caused too much pressure for her. But Sandra hopes her story inspires others to stand up for themselves.
"Doesn't surprise me about any of us around here. We all fight what's ours," says Phyllis Barkley, Sandra's good friend. "Don't mess with the gray haired people! We still got a lot of fight in us."