May Boyce, 88, is a widow who stands a mere 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs just 115 pounds — but don't dare call her a "little old lady," she told the New York Post.
"I know how to take care of myself," Boyce added to the paper.
Indeed, an alleged shoplifter in her Nashville liquor store learned that truth painfully Tuesday night.
Boyce, who owns Murfreesboro Road Liquor and Wines, told investigators two men entered her store and walked behind the counter where the vodka was located, the Charlotte Observer reported, citing an affidavit obtained by McClatchy News.
She said one of the men approached her "in a manner that she knew" he was going to steal from her, the Observer said.
That's when Boyce grabbed her late mother Mary's .38 Smith & Wesson revolver, unwrapped it from its cloth covering, and placed it on the counter, the Post reported.
One of the men asked for brown liquor, and the other, identified as Ramon Fisher, grabbed a couple of Crown Royal whiskey bottles, the Post said, adding that Boyce then confronted Fisher, who she said "lunged" at her.
Boyce said Fisher was going to push her down, the Post added, and he ran for the exit with the bottles under his arm.
According to authorities, she said she pointed the gun toward the ground "in the victim's direction and fired once," the Observer reported, and "the victim yelled out that he had been shot and fell into a stack of bottles."
"I never shot a gun before," Boyce told the Post, "but I guess it's something that comes natural. I aimed at the floor to scare him."
The other man helped Fisher out of the store, the Observer added, citing the affidavit.
More from the Observer:
Police caught up with Fisher at Vanderbilt Hospital, where he told police he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time and said he and his friend went to the store to steal liquor, the affidavit says.
Fisher offered a different story the next day, telling police in a follow-up interview he had every intention of paying for the alcohol.
"He stated that he was not going to steal any liquor, [and] that his friend, the unidentified male ... told him to take the liquor, that he was going to pay for it," police said, according to the Observer.
Fisher — who is expected to recover — also denied fleeing the store and said he was walking toward the exit when Boyce shot him once in the back, the Observer added.
What happened to Boyce?
Boyce told the Post she volunteered to go to the police station with officers when they arrived at her store.
She was charged with aggravated assault and released on $10,000 bond, Nashville police said.
May Boyce is free on $10,000 bond on a charge of aggravated assault for shooting a man Tuesday night who she though… https://t.co/u1StAbTAt4— Metro Nashville PD (@Metro Nashville PD) 1592518622.0
"I went down, got my mugshot taken, got out on bond, and came right back to the store," Boyce told the Post. "I got some people to help me, but it took us to 1 a.m. to clean up all the wine that spilled everywhere."
She told the Post she's been robbed a number of times, especially over the last four years, and often she's been scared — but she's also had enough of being pushed around.
"After you've been played for a fool by people stealin' from you for years, you get fed up," Boyce told the paper, adding that "I did what I had to do, and I hope word gets out on the street that ... I'm not taking it anymore. You've got to stick up for yourself sometimes."
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A young friend of Boyce, Carson Burch, took to Facebook to defend her, saying she wears a wrist brace from an incident at the store two months ago when she was robbed and assaulted.
"She is a sweet old lady who minds her own business. She opens this liquor store up every single day by herself, and she closes it down every night by herself," Burch wrote. "Now she's charged with a crime for defending herself? Give me a break."
Boyce works six days a week at the store she's owned since 1994, the paper reported.
"I'm a people person," she told the Post. "I like to work."
But she's also upset that police confiscated her gun, telling her it might be two years before she gets it back, the paper said.
"I told 'em, s**t, I might be dead by then," Boyce told the Post. "But the law's the law."