I’ve said before that while orders of protection can be valuable in terms of giving authorities a tool to use to go after domestic abusers or stalkers, they’re only a piece of paper and not a suit of armor when it comes to actually providing protection for victims.
One South Carolina woman apparently feels the same way, because she didn’t rely solely on that legal order to keep her safe from an abusive ex, and on Sunday she was forced to defend her life with a firearm after the man, identified as 41-year-old Antwan Ashley, allegedly violated the protective order and accosted her.
Richland County deputies responded to reports of a shooting in Columbia, South Carolina on Sunday afternoon and detained the woman at the scene, but announced on Monday that investigators have determined she was acting in self-defense and won’t be facing charges.
The woman, who was detained following the incident, had an active order of protection against the man who was shot, due to a history of domestic violence, according to officials.
Officials say the man followed the woman to her home, aggressively approached her and attempted to hit her.
The woman acted in self defense and shot the man.
Authorities haven’t released much more information than that, but the bottom line is that the woman was prepared to defend her life and every right and reason to do so when Ashley pursued her to her home and tried to attack her.
Again, I’m not knocking protective orders at all, but they should be a starting point for people who are being threatened by an abuser. An order of protection can help ensure legal consequences for those abusers after the fact, but they don’t offer any protection in the moment if someone chooses to violate one. Just two days before this woman in South Carolina shot and killed her attacker, a 48-year-old woman in Baltimore, Maryland was apparently killed by her estranged husband who violated an order of protection as well as the state and federal prohibitions on felons possessing firearms when he invaded her home and attacked her.
Maxine Redfern had written “N/A” in a field of her protective order petition asking if the respondent, her husband, owned or had access to any firearms, and did not check a box indicating if she wanted him to turn over any guns to police.
In the application, she wrote that her husband had caused her “mental anguish through continued vicious conduct and cruel treatment” since July. She added that her spouse also “would not let me out [of] my room then out of [the] house,” and would not give her access to her vehicle.
She left fields for any weapons the respondent might have blank, only asking that her husband not contact her or go to the Maple Avenue residence, where they had been living together for 11 years.
Baltimore County Circuit Judge John J. Nagle III granted those requests, though they expired a week later, in a temporary protective order that also required Arnel Redfern to surrender any firearms he had. Nagle wrote in a hearing sheet that he found that the husband, who did not attend that day’s proceedings, had access to firearms. It’s unclear what led the judge to that conclusion.
The Baltimore County Sheriff’s Office found no guns registered in Arnel Redfern’s name when running a check ahead of serving him the temporary protective order. When a deputy served him at about 8:30 p.m. the next day, the 52-year-old signed a form certifying he did not possess any firearms.
Arnel Redfern did attend the Oct. 17 hearing regarding his wife’s final protective order against him. At that hearing, Baltimore County Circuit Judge Jan M. Alexander ordered for the husband not to abuse his wife and again for him to surrender any firearms in his possession. The orders, which also prohibit the husband from possessing any firearm, were to be in effect for the next year.
That day, for the second time in a week’s span, Arnel Redfern signed a form certifying he did not possess any firearms.
Arnel Redfern had been convicted of robbery and drug charges in the 1990s, according to police, and though they haven’t formally said whether he was prohibited from possessing a firearm I’ve not been able to find any evidence that robbery has ever been considered a misdemeanor offense in Maryland. If Redfern was convicted of a felony, as appears to have been the case, then he would have been prohibited by both state and federal law from possessing a firearm. If Redfern illegally obtained and possessed a handgun I doubt he would have alerted authorities to that fact, even if that meant committing perjury.
Owning and carrying a firearm for self-defense is no guarantee of protection either, of course, but it at least increases the chances of surviving an encounter with an abusive and violent individual. When it comes to personal protection in situations like this, I’m in favor of adopting a multi-faceted strategy that includes a protective order if possible as well as a firearm in case that piece of paper isn’t enough to convince the recipient to stay away.
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, help is available through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.