An 82-year-old Vietnam War veteran beat an armed home invader to death with the butt end of a shotgun to protect his 79-year-old wife after the invader attacked her in their home in South Carolina on Monday.
According to local authorities, Herbert Parrish grabbed the gun off a wall mount when the suspect, later identified at 61-year-old Harold Runnels, forcibly entered his home wielding a knife. Runnels knocked Parrish’s wife, Lois, to the ground and sliced her forehead in the attack, Fox 57 reported.
“I felt, we’re gone. He’s going to kill us and take what he can take,” Parrish told the local news outlet. “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.”
“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,” Parrish continued.
Runnels lived in a trailer park near Parrish’s home, WJBF-TV reported, and initiated the attack by knocking on the couple’s door and asking if they had seen a missing dog.
“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.
Aiken County Coroner Darryl Ables confirmed Runnels later died at the Augusta University Medical Center due to the injuries he sustained during the attack.
Captain Eric Abdullah, a spokesman for the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, advised all residents to immediately contact law enforcement if they believe their home is being broken into.
“Of course, folks have the right to defend themselves if their lives are in danger, but the best thing to do is to call for help,” he told the Aiken Standard. “Every situation is going to be different. It may be a similar crime in nature, but every situation is going to be different. There’s no way to accurately predict exactly what actions that any person should take if somebody is trying to invade their home. The best recourse is to think smartly and get help on the way.”
According to Fox News, the elderly couple are not being charged and were both treated for minor injuries.