An elderly couple in South Carolina are alive today thanks to the family shotgun and the quick actions of the husband who was able to come to the defense of his wife after a stranger attacked them in their home.
The incident unfolded Monday afternoon in Jackson, South Carolina when a strange man came to Herbert and Lois Parrish’s front door and began knocking.
“I opened the door and he said he was looking for his little white chihuahua and wanted to know if I saw it. I told him, no, I didn’t,” said Lois Parrish.
That’s when the situation became violent. Lois said as she was closing the door, the man, who has now been identified as 61-year-old Harold Runnels, pushed his way inside. According to a police report, Runnels pulled out a large knife and began attacking Mrs. Parrish.
Police say Runnels began beating Lois Parrish on the head with the blunt end of the knife handle. Parrish, who’s 79-years old, fell to the ground and Runnels continued his attack, lacerating the woman’s forehead with the knife blade.
Herbert Parrish, believing that the stranger was going to kill both of them, knew he had to fight back.
“He was not going to go out that door and leave us alive. That’s the way I felt. That’s why I said, I’ve got to do something quick and get the edge on him. Get the advantage on him,” said Parrish.
Herbert Parrish was able to act quickly, grabbing hold of a shotgun that was hanging on the wall by the door. Parrish said he then hit the intruder with the handle of the firearm until Runnels was unconscious.
“I started hitting him in the head with the barrel and I know I must have hit him at least ten times right in the face, just as hard as I could hit him,” said Parrish.
I don’t know if it was pure adrenaline or if Herbert Parrish is just stronger than your average 82-year old man, but the blows not only disabled the home invader, they ultimately resulted in his death. Runnels passed away on Monday evening, hours after he was taken to a local hospital.
Herbert Parrish isn’t facing any charges for acting to protect his wife and himself, and though the couple were injured in the attack, they’re both expected to make a full recovery.
While most defensive gun uses don’t actually involve a pull of the trigger, neither do they typically involve using the gun as a blunt object self-defense tool. It’s unclear why Parrish clubbed the home invader in the face rather than firing a round at him, but there are a couple of possibilities. The gun could have been unloaded, but Parrish may also have felt that he would have injured his wife as well by firing a blast of steel shot in such close quarters.
I’m glad that Herbert and Lois Parrish survived their encounter with a violent stranger, and I hope that they quickly recover from both their physical injuries and the psychological impact of the home invasion.
As for their attacker, police say he lived just a couple of blocks from the Parrish home, but have describe the home invasion as a random encounter. They don’t know why the 61-year old picked that particular house, but residents in the area say it’s scary to know that it could have been them.
“I’m pretty sure everyone around here feels some type of way now. Everyone’s saying make sure your doors are locked, don’t go anywhere, don’t answer the door,” [neighbor Alyssa] Hill said.
Well, never answering your door again isn’t really an option. Having a plan if the person on the other side has nefarious intent, however, isn’t just an option, but should be something that everyone thinks about. It doesn’t matter if you live in a high-crime neighborhood in Baltimore or a quiet small town community like Jackson, South Carolina. Crime can happen anywhere, and to anyone, and ultimately your safety and the safety of the people you love are in your own hands.
If Herbert Parrish had grabbed his phone and called 911 before grabbing his shotgun and bashing the face of the man attacking his wife, police may have arrived on the scene of a double murder instead of a justifiable homicide. Sometimes it’s just not possible to call police and wait for help, no matter what anti-gun police chiefs might say about the idea of armed citizens.