Sarah McKinley is an 18-year-old new mother and widow: Her husband died from cancer on Christmas. Sarah was home alone with her three-month-old baby on New Year’s Eve when an armed attacker crashed through her front door.
McKinley’s mother said the deceased had begun stalking her daughter two years ago, and evidence indicates he resumed stalking after her husband died. He showed up at her door earlier in the day, claiming he was a neighbor wanting to say hello, but something nudged her to turn him away. Later that day, he returned with an accomplice, and began pounding on her front door.
Sarah barricaded the door with a sofa, and dialed 911. Before he broke in, Sarah spent 21 minutes talking to two different dispatchers, asking permission to shoot the intruder.
“I’ve got two guns in my hand. Is it OK to shoot him if he comes in this door?”
“Well, you have to do whatever you can do to protect yourself,” dispatcher Diane Graham responded. “I can’t tell you that you can do that, but you do what you have to do to protect your baby.”
The intruder finally broke through and attacked with a 12-inch hunting knife that was still “clutched in his gloved left hand” when police arrived.
(Research published at Police One reexamined the Tueller 21-Foot Rule (an knife-wielding attacker can cover 21 feet in the time it takes for an officer to draw and fire his first defensive round). One finding concluded: “a 21-foot reactionary gap is not sufficient.” Once the attacker was through the door and charging her, she had one chance to stop him.)
The shooting was ruled justified by the District Attorney’s office.
First Assistant District Attorney James Walters told CNN that McKinley will not be charged because she acted in self-defense.
“A person has the right to protect themselves, their family and their property,” Walters said.
Blanchard PD Detective Dan Huff noted: “The Oklahoma laws are clear on the home and the right to your home are absolute.”
The accomplice was charged with felony murder, because somebody died while during the commission of a felony–he’s also charged with first-degree burglary–which carries a maximum sentence of death.
In an interview, Sarah said: “You have to make a choice, you or him. I chose my son over him.”
(CNN video here)