A 61-year-old woman got handed quite the unlucky day this week when she saw a man jump over her back fence, break through her bedroom window, and then hold a gun on her.
But the south Portland nurse had a few crucial things working in her favor: namely her ability to think quickly...and her training with regard to psychiatric patients.
At first, though, it was out-and-out terror: "I didn't scream. I didn't have it in me to scream,'' the victim, who asked for anonymity, told the Oregonian of Wednesday's incident. "It was just this guttural, 'oh my God!'''
When she tried to run from her house, the man wouldn't let her. "I just said to him, 'Please don't kill me!'' she told the paper.
After she observed him removing the window screen he'd knocked in and wiping it down with a towel, she told the Oregonian she saw her chance to diffuse the situation. "I said, 'Oh, you're really tidy."
Indeed that opened the door. The intruder corrected her, saying he was wiping it down to get rid of his fingerprints. He added that police were after him, as well as drones, and that he'd been smoking methamphetamine.
"I just looked at him and said I've heard about those drones, and I think the public should be aware of them,'' she added to the Oregonian, noting she realized then that her clinical know-how might help her emerge alive.
She told the paper in nursing school she learned three keys in regard to dealing with psychiatric patients: be respectful, don't startle them, and don't do anything threatening.
"You keep your hands down to the side, don't cross your arms,'' she told the Oregonian. "I just engaged him in everything he said.''
She asked him if he wanted a water, he said yes, and they talked some more. He told her he'd been exposed to asbestos, the Oregonian reported, which "really messed'' him up.
Then she found herself asking the man if he minded if she smoked, which she told the paper she never does in her house. "He's got a gun on me," she said the day after the incident, "and I deserve a cigarette if he's going to let me have one."
When the man indicated he'd have to kidnap her, she thought fast once again: "I don't know how we're going to do this," she said, according to the Oregonian. "I don't have a car."
"We'll get a taxi,'' he replied, the paper noted.
Finally she made a suggestion that turned everything around. "How about if I make you this promise?'' she said, according to the Oregonian. "How about if I call police, and I tell them you are here, and they are to be so respectful when they arrive...They can't come into the driveway with flashing lights and people jumping out with megaphones.''
He agreed, so she called 911 and explained everything to the dispatcher — and soon police quietly arrived.
[sharequote align="center"]"I gave him a hug before he walked out the door."[/sharequote]
More from the Oregonian:
The man put his handgun on the table of her dining room, removed the gun's magazine, pulled the slide and one bullet fell to the floor. He stood by the front window, his hands up in the air.
Before he stepped out, the woman turned to embrace her burglar, now unarmed.
"I gave him a hug before he walked out the door,'' she told the paper in an audio interview. "There was something about him that really touched me.''
The intruder — 55-year Keith Paul Mitchell — was taken into custody without incident; the woman went back into her home and began to cry.
Mitchell was arraigned Thursday on three counts of first-degree burglary, coercion, felon in possession of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon, menacing and pointing a firearm at another, the Oregonian said.
"And I think I was lucky," she told the paper. "I got a man who I don't think in his heart is an aggressive soul. His eyes told me he was not...But I don't want him on the streets...I'm hoping he gets the mental health care that he needs."
Here's an interview the victim, with her face off camera, via KOIN-TV:
(H/T: The Oregonian)