A 62-year-old United States Marine Corps veteran shot and wounded three home invasion suspects during a gunfight in Theodore, Ala. late last week.
The story begins a couple of weeks ago when the suspects reportedly broke into Michael Irving’s home and stole all of his cancer medication. During that encounter, the thieves threatened to harm him if he reported the incident to police. A week after that, Irving received a threatening phone call from an unknown person.
Undeterred by this, Irving called the authorities to report the robbery and the threatening phone call, and police began an investigation.
Last Thursday evening, the three suspects returned. This time, they were armed with a handgun and a shotgun. Irving said he heard a tap on his front door and “I walked right here to open the door, and that’s when he shot me right there.”
Fortunately, Irving was able to gain the upper hand.
“That’s when I went to the cabinet here and back behind the coffee was an old time pistol,” said Irving. “I opened the door and smoked ’em.”
Irving managed to shoot all three suspects. Two of them fled the scene in a vehicle, but were found by Mobile County Sheriff’s Office deputies at a Dollar General Store just over two miles away after they reported being shot. The third suspect remained wounded at the home.
The suspects—identified as Casey Ray Gann, 29, Joseph Heathcock, 19, and Chaste Dulabhan, 24—were taken to a local hospital for treatment and arrested shortly thereafter. All three have been charged with assault second-degree, robbery first-degree, burglary first-degree and shooting into an occupied dwelling.
Irving, meanwhile, is being hailed as a hero for his actions. He says he partially owes his survival to lessons he learned while in the Corps.
“It surprised me too but when someone just shot and is trying to kill you it just wakes up the dragon,” said Irving. “I learned that in the Marine Corps. You react and do before you get scared. Always react and do it before you get time to get scared.”
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In addition, Irving had installed new plexiglass on his door shortly after the first incident, which he believes proved to be the difference-maker.
“Where the bullet hole is, you can see how thick that glass is and that’s what saved me, because it slowed down the buckshot enough.
“If I hadn’t of moved just a little bit, it would have hit me in the chest and sternum and caught me in the heart.”
Irving is now recovering from his wounds. Police are still searching for a fourth suspect whom they believe served as the getaway driver.