Melinda Herman grabbed a handgun and hid in a crawl space with her two children when a man broke in last week and approached the family at their home northeast of Atlanta, police said. Herman called her husband on the phone, and with him reminding her of the lessons she recently learned at a shooting range, Herman opened fire, seriously wounding the burglary suspect.
The National Rifle Association tweeted a link to a news story about the shooting, and support poured in from others online, hailing Herman as a hero. The local sheriff said he was proud of the way she handled the situation.
“This lady decided that she wasn’t going to be a victim, and I think everyone else looks at this and hopes they have the courage to do what she done,” Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman said Wednesday.
Herman was working from home Friday when she saw a man walk up to the front door. She told police he rang the doorbell twice and then over and over again. He went back to his SUV, got something out and walked back toward the house, a police report said.
Herman took her 9-year-old son and daughter into an upstairs bedroom and locked the door. They went into a bathroom and she locked that door, too. She got her handgun from a safe, the report said, and hid with her children. At some point, she called her husband, who kept her on the line and called 911 on another line.
In a 10-minute 911 recording released by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Donnie Herman explained what was happening to a dispatcher. His part of the conversation with his wife was also recorded.
“Is he in the house, Melinda? Are you sure? How do you know? You can hear him in the house?” Donnie Herman said.
His wife told him the intruder was coming closer.
“He’s in the bedroom? Shh, shh, relax. Just remember everything that I showed you, everything that I taught you, all right?” Donnie Herman told his wife, explaining later to the dispatcher that he had recently taken her to a gun range.
It wasn’t clear from the recording exactly when they went to range and Donnie Herman said Wednesday the family didn’t want to talk about the shooting.
After Donnie Herman told his wife police were on the way, he started shouting: “She shot him. She’s shootin’ him. She’s shootin’ him. She’s shootin’ him. She’s shootin’ him.”
“OK,” the dispatcher said.
“Shoot him again! Shoot him!” Donnie Herman yelled. He told the dispatcher he heard a lot of screaming, but he seems to get increasingly worried when he doesn’t hear anything from his wife.
Melinda Herman told police she started shooting the man when he opened the door to the crawl space. The man pleaded with her to stop, but she kept firing until she had emptied her rounds, she told police. She then fled to a neighbor’s house with her children.
The man drove away in his SUV. Police found the SUV on another subdivision street and discovered a man bleeding from his face and body in a nearby wooded area. Police identified the suspect as Paul Slater, 32, of Atlanta.
Chapman said the hospital asked him not to comment on Slater’s condition, but he said he is not certain Slater will survive. Authorities have a warrant but haven’t formally arrested Slater. They plan to charge him with burglary, possession of tools for the commission of a crime and aggravated assault, Walton County sheriff’s Capt. Greg Hall said.
A phone number for Slater was not listed and it was not clear whether he has an attorney.
Authorities believe Slater targeted a home in another local subdivision but left when confronted by the homeowner, Chapman said.