Turning the tables
by Robert A. Waters
After being robbed two weeks before in the Orangeburg, South Carolina Days Inn where she worked, a hotel clerk asked her manager for permission to bring her gun to work. He consented and it paid off early on the morning of July 25. When the woman (whose name was not released) entered the hotel’s restaurant to begin preparing breakfasts for guests, she found a career criminal named Vincent Lee Carson hiding in the room. Before she could turn to flee, he grabbed her and placed a knife to her throat. After threatening her, he put the weapon down while he attempted to bind her hands with zip-ties. This gave the clerk the opportunity she needed to pull out her .22-caliber handgun and open fire. Carson’s violent career ended that day as a bullet rocketed into his heart. According to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, Carson, at 250 pounds, was twice the size of the woman. “[The shooter] did not want to take someone’s life, but she was put in a position where she had absolutely no choice,” Lott said. “This had escalated beyond a robbery to a sexual assault, and we don’t know what would have happened beyond that. She did the correct thing — she protected herself.” Carson, who had a long criminal history in New York and New Jersey, was a fugitive wanted for another local hotel robbery a week earlier.
At 10:00 p.m., in the dark parking lot of a St. Petersburg Applebee’s Restaurant, Lesley Tanner and her boyfriend Raven Smith got out of their car to go get a bite to eat. Smith has a permit to carry a concealed weapon and was toting a .380-caliber handgun. Out of the darkness, a masked man armed with a pistol rushed toward Tanner. As the assailant closed on her, Smith shouted for Tanner to “get down.” She crouched on the ground, allowing Smith a window to open fire. Four rounds hit the assailant, identified by police as Anthony Hauser. As he fell to the pavement, the robber begged Smith not to shoot him anymore. Tanner later spoke to reporters. “I saw orange flashes over my head,” she said. “And then my ears were ringing.” Hauser was taken to the hospital for treatment of his wounds and later arrested for attempted armed robbery. Police said he has a long rap-sheet. Smith, who had fired his gun at a shooting range but never at another person, was philosophical about the incident. “Maybe [Hauser] can learn his lesson and change his life,” he said. Smith will not be charged.
Peggy Melton, 68, of Powersite, Missouri, returned home to find a burglar pillaging her house. A permit holder armed with a handgun, Melton confronted Danny Waggoner, 24, in her bedroom. According to police reports, the thief threatened her with a shotgun. “I’m going to kill you,” he said. Before that could happen, Melton drew her gun and fired three times, hitting Waggoner in the chest with one round. The thief ran out the door and climbed into a pickup driven by his girlfriend, Courtney Simpson. Police quickly tracked down the suspects and Waggoner was transported to the hospital. Simpson has been charged with several crimes related to the break-in. But before he could be indicted, Waggoner escaped from the hospital and is still being sought by police. Cops say he’ll be charged when he’s caught. “Missouri law is pretty clear that the homeowner was acting well within her rights, at least as I read the incident,” Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell said.