Home alone with her 9-year-old twins, a Walton County mother’s first call wasn’t to 911 when she heard an intruder. She called her husband.
At work in Atlanta, Donnie Herman dialed 911 from another phone.
Recordings obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of two calls to 911, detailed the horrifying minutes of a burglary that ended with a mother shooting a stranger in a bedroom of her home. The emergency calls — one from an anxious, but calm husband and the other from nervous and stunned neighbors — give a chilling recount of Friday afternoon’s events.
“Just remember everything that I showed you, everything that I taught you, alright?” Donnie Herman tells his wife Melinda on the 911 tape.
“If he opens that door, you shoot him, you understand?”
The encounter, which has made national headlines, has energized the already hotly debated gun control issue.
Wednesday on “Good Morning America,” Donnie Herman called his wife a hero. She did what “any responsible gun owner would do,” Donnie Herman said on national television. Melinda Herman hasn’t spoken publicly about the ordeal, but her actions have many praising her bravery and others considering or reconsidering the necessity of handguns in their own homes.
The intruder, later identified by police as Paul Slater, used a crowbar to open the front door, likely thinking no one was in the two-story home on Henderson Ridge Lane, according to Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman
Melinda Herman took the twins into an attic room, adjacent to a bedroom. Her conversation with her husband isn’t audible on the 911 recordings, but Donnie Herman is heard relaying information to an operator. Help is on the way, according to the operator.
Seconds later, Donnie Herman’s calmness is replaced by the sound of gunshots. Six of them. Five struck the man.
“She’s shooting him! She’s shooting him!” Herman tells the operator.
“Shoot him again! Shoot him!” he tells his wife.
Melinda Herman, armed with a .38 caliber handgun, did what she was told, what she had just practiced at a gun range with her husband.
“She shot him,” Donnie Herman told the operator. “A lot.”
Slater was then heard pleading for his life, Donnie Herman told the 911 operator.
Slater was injured, but managed to run from the home and get into his SUV, according to police. Meanwhile, the family’s neighbors also called 911.
With the gun still in her hand Melinda Herman, 37, and her son and daughter ran outside and to a neighbor’s house. None were injured, but all three were visibly shaken and the kids were crying, a neighbor tells a 911 operator.
“They’re going to walk over to my house,” a man tells 911. “I’m their neighbor. They’re okay. They’re just shooken up.”
At the operator’s urging, the neighbor then is heard telling Melinda Herman to put down the revolver before deputies arrive.
“I need you to put the weapon right down there,” the man says. “If they see you with a gun, they’re gonna pull theirs on you.”
As the 911 operators can be heard relaying information to each other, sheriff’s deputies drive on to the street, followed by other emergency responders.
Deputies soon found Slater, 32, bleeding profusely in another neighbor’s driveway. On Wednesday, he remained hospitalized with puncture injuries to his lungs, liver and stomach.
If he survives his injuries, it’s not yet known what charges Slater could face. In late August, he was released from jail after serving six months for simple battery and three counts of probation violation.
Meanwhile, nearly 10 minutes after he first called 911, Donnie Herman gets good news. “The kids are at your neighbor’s house,” the operator says. “Yes, sir. Your wife is okay.”
A relieved father then thanks the operator for his help. “Okay, I’m gonna head home.”
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