Sandra Mize, 63, woke up in the wee hours of Wednesday morning to the noise of someone smashing in the back door of her Spokane, Wash., home. She grabbed her .22-caliber handgun and dashed toward the intruder, firing a shot in the man's direction and then detaining him as she called police.
"The shirtless suspect was much taller and bigger that the female victim," says a press release from the Spokane Police Department. "In fear of her life, she fired one shot from her gun at the suspect, but did not hit him. The suspect then ran to a couch and sat down, where the homeowner detained him until police arrived."
Police arrived about two minutes after Mize called them, The Spokesman-Review reports.
From the house's porch policemen instructed Mize to put down her weapon. She complied and placed the gun on a sewing machine, prompting the suspect, identified by police as Sean Denny, 35, to attempt an escape. He was wrestled to the ground by five policemen.
"He was very strong," Mize told The Spokesman-Review. "I'm really glad he didn't challenge me because I would have had to actually shoot him."
Police Lt. Dean Sprague told the local publication that the intruder was apparently unarmed, but appeared to be "at least half her age and twice her size." The city police chief, Frank Straub, said, "Having a firearm in your home for personal protection, I guess we got to see the value of that last night."
Mize reportedly enjoys quilting and was recently widowed. "She's a little lady, and she's soft-spoken and she's got a great laugh," a neighbor told The Spokesman-Review. "But I wouldn't want to cross her, frankly."
Denny was charged Wednesday afternoon with second degree burglary, residential burglary and resisting arrest.
"We always want people to call police immediately," Spokane Police Department spokesman Monique Cotton told U.S. News. "She did exactly what we needed her to do."
According to Washington state law, use of force is legal "[w]henever used by a party about to be injured" and "[w]henever reasonably used by a person to detain someone who enters or remains unlawfully in a building or on real property."
Cotton confirmed that Mize will face no criminal charges. In other states, such as Delaware—where lawyers say firing a gun at an intruder is only legal in the face of imminent death—and Virginia—where a man was charged in February for firing a shotgun at intruders, citizens might lack the legal right to act as Mize did.