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View Full Version : "Ground grappler" mother disarms and kills serial rapist with his own firearm



Kungfoolss
11/22/2005 11:28pm,
Woman recounts in-home attack from rapist: Kills attacker with his own weapon

By BETTA FERRENDELLI/Observer managing editor
November 19, 2005

Melissa O'Connell will be the first to tell you she's the exception, not the rule. Among women who become victims of violent crime she is an anomaly.

Three years after waking up around midnight with a masked male intruder on top of her, shining a flashlight in her eyes and holding a gun and preparing to rape her, O'Connell is alive to talk about it. The serial rapist, who had gained entry into her house that July evening through a window or the sliding glass door, is dead.

He's dead because O'Connell managed to wrestle his gun away and shoot him at least twice.

O'Connell survived to tell her story many times to many people, including a national television audience when she appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to accept a "Chutzpah award," given to women who show extraordinary amounts of bravery and courage in threatening situations. O'Connell told her story again to the Women Against Crime (WAC) class Monday evening. Trish Hoffman, a spokesperson with the Albuquerque Police Department, teaches WAC at a police substation in the Duke City. Hoffman started WAC, a 12-week course designed to help women and men know what to do if and when they should find themselves victims of crime, five years ago. The course is offered several times a year.

O'Connell talked. We listened. Dressed in a black turtleneck, jeans and black boots, she paced the floor before us, arms folded or stuffed in her back pockets and spoke in a soft, but determined voice about the night she was nearly raped. "My story is not like a lot of others," she said. "I got the upper hand."

If O'Connell, a single mother, is grateful for any one thing, it is likely that her son was staying with his father that night. She was in her home alone.

The rapist was 6-feet-tall, with a muscular build. O'Connell's slender body stretches over her 5-foot-6-inch frame. Nothing about her suggested Amazon to the rapist and it is likely he was thinking easy target when he entered her home.

O'Connell had one skill he knew nothing about.

She was a "ground grappler," well trained in the martial arts moves of jujitsu.

He told her he had a gun. Though she couldn't see the gun when her ordeal first began, she believed him. "I felt it against my chest," she said. O'Connell struggled with her attacker, but it wasn't until he said, "Do you want to die?" that something within her snapped. "It was a roulette," she said. "My time was not going to come up." And there were other dark memories lurking in her subconscious that sprang to life at his question. Her sister was raped at 14, and some of her cousins had been molested. Now the same was about to happen to her. As they rolled around on the bed in the dark, the gun between them, determined thoughts swirled in O'Connell's mind: if she was going to die, she was going to die trying. She did not want her family find her naked and "duct taped to the bed."

It was then her "muscle memory" kicked in. Because she had practiced her martial art skill many, many times, she knew how to position her knees against his hips to get him off her. She managed to get out from under him and get control of the gun. She fired, hitting him. Her attacker lay wounded on the floor. She pulled off his mask so she "could get a good look at him" and left him in her bedroom.

O'Connell ran from her house, certain he had gotten up to follow her. She screamed for help. A neighbor next door heard her cries and let her in. She called 911 from there. Police arrived. They found the rapist dead on a floor in the hallway. O'Connell said she has one version of how many times he was hit; police have another. Her version: She fired the weapon. The bullet entered his right hand, his shooting hand, and traveled out his wrist and struck his shoulder. She fired again, striking him in the chest. She fired a third time, but missed. The bullet lodged in a wall in her bedroom, where it still remains. She had only fired a gun once before that night.

She called police about 1:30 a.m. Many of them came, including several women officers. That surprised O'Connell. "I had never seen a woman cop before," she said. The women officers were kind to her, all the police officers were that night and in the days and weeks that followed. "Everyone was so good to me," she said. "They treated me with respect." She was a bookkeeper at the time. "I didn't like it," she told the class.

That night completely transformed her life. Intense therapy followed the incident. She liked what she saw in law enforcement, so much that she became an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department. "I spent 13 months getting yelled at," O'Connell said of her training to become a police officer. Today, O'Connell is a detective with the sex crimes unit. She said she has no regrets how she handled the situation the night she was attacked. "I went to bed in a T-shirt and underwear," she said. "I was very vulnerable." O'Connell is certain that if her attacker didn't have a gun that night, the outcome would not have been in her favor. O'Connell still lives in the same house and has no plans to move. In fact, she had a house reclaiming party. Her son was four the night she killed her would-be rapist. For a while, he knew nothing. He knows now and occasionally asks his mother, "Is that guy coming back?"

O'Connell said the nature of what happened has forced her into the limelight. It is not something she has chosen. "It's a trippy thing," she told the class. "I've told the story a thousand times." Her story has helped other women who have been raped come forward. "It's important to see a survivor," she said. Perhaps O'Connell has survived her ordeal so well because it is her choice. "You can't choose what happens to you in life," she said. "But you can choose how to survive."

For more information on WAC, call the information line, 768-3600.

Tomorrow night: drug recognition. On Nov. 28, defense moves.

http://www.observer-online.com/articles/2005/11/19/news/story3.txt

Yrkoon9
11/23/2005 12:08am,
BJJ wins again.

Nid
11/23/2005 12:16am,
O'Connell is certain that if her attacker didn't have a gun that night, the outcome would not have been in her favor.

That's a wierd thing to say.

Kungfoolss
11/23/2005 12:42am,
That's a wierd thing to say.

That's why the old west called the firearm the great 'equalizer.'

Nid
11/23/2005 1:33am,
Yeah, but...eh.

It's purely hindsight, and just doesn't quite seem like a valid thing to say for some reason.

chaosexmachina
11/23/2005 4:26am,
Fuckin' insane! What a super milf... err... mom.

I need this woman's email, I want the technical details of her struggle!! lol

X_plosion
11/24/2005 5:16am,
All's well that ends well, at least for supermom. Anyway, good for her!

Xiangfei
11/27/2005 10:09am,
I think she means that without the gun, she'd have had to pound him in some way to death, and therefore that might not have been as easy. Grapple, grab gun, shoot, it's all over. Grapple him, get the upper hand... then what? She'd have had to find something to club him with, and also, too mucy clubbery and the police might not have looked at it in the same way. As it is, it's a good SD scenario - quick, short, reflexive, snappy. If they think you took even a second to 'think' about killing them, they're all over you as a cold, callous murderer.

Least they are in the UK. But here, being in someone's house isn't a major crime, bizarrely, and people can and do go to prison just for touching burglars and rapists.

lawdog
11/27/2005 10:46am,
That's why the old west called the firearm the great 'equalizer.'

God created men....Samuel Colt made them equal.

patfromlogan
11/27/2005 11:09am,
Good for her.

Zendetta
11/27/2005 1:45pm,
Fucking aweseome.

chaosexmachina
11/27/2005 3:41pm,
I think she means that without the gun, she'd have had to pound him in some way to death, and therefore that might not have been as easy. Grapple, grab gun, shoot, it's all over. Grapple him, get the upper hand... then what? She'd have had to find something to club him with, and also, too mucy clubbery and the police might not have looked at it in the same way. As it is, it's a good SD scenario - quick, short, reflexive, snappy. If they think you took even a second to 'think' about killing them, they're all over you as a cold, callous murderer.

Least they are in the UK. But here, being in someone's house isn't a major crime, bizarrely, and people can and do go to prison just for touching burglars and rapists.

Ever heard of a choke?

FictionPimp
11/27/2005 4:23pm,
This is why I stress the importance of not getting under 5 feet of distance when using a gun. Its very easy to have it taken away from you if you are afraid to use it. I'm happy she freed herself and killed him, he deserved it. But I would like to use this as proof positive that if you have a gun and no intent to use it, you will get killed.

RangerMan
12/09/2005 5:17pm,
Good for her.

Fortunately in the US if someone breaks into your house you don't have to worry about going to jail for defending yourself. I am glad she came out okay, didn't get prosecuted on any sort of joke charge, and it didn't sound like the rapist's family tried to sue her for wrongful death. Plus the world is ridden of garbage and the taxpayers didn't have to foot the bill.

AikidoDeadlines
12/12/2005 3:50pm,
I was disappointed that there was no armbar or triangle. But all's well that ends well.