Columbia, SC – A female homeowner fatally shot a convicted felon who broke into her home in the middle of the night, police said.
“He was an escapee from Pickens County Prison, armed with an improvised weapon, and the victim was trapped in her home in her bedroom,” Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark said during a press conference.
Sheriff Clark said the incident was a “shining example” as to why citizens should own guns and should be trained to use them, The New York Times reported.
The incident began at approximately 2:40 a.m. on Dec. 4, when at least two Pickens County Prison inmates assaulted two corrections officers as part of a “pre-meditated plan to escape the facility,” Sheriff Clark said, according to WHNS.
At approximately 2:53 a.m., the 911 center began receiving calls about the in-progress incident, and Pickens County deputies raced to the scene.
They apprehended one escaped inmate, Timothy Dill, on Concord Church Road, but 30-year old inmate Bruce McLaughlin initially remained on the run.
While the deputies were arresting Dill, an unnamed woman called 911 and reported that she had just shot an unknown man who kicked down her back door, police said.
The woman, who was home alone and the time of the midnight break-in, fired a single round at the suspect, hitting him in the head.
Deputies responded to the residence, where they found the suspect dressed in an orange prison suit.
He was immediately identified as McLaughlin.
Investigators said that the suspect had armed himself with a foot-long metal tool used to sharpen knives after he broke into the woman’s home, then came to her bedroom door and blocked her escape, The New York Times reported.
The convicted felon was transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital by helicopter, where he was pronounced dead, according to WHNS.
The female homeowner was not injured during the incident.
Sheriff Clark said that the victim, who has a concealed firearm permit, feared for her life during the encounter, and that she was entirely justified in using deadly force against the intruder.
“This was a big guy. If she hadn’t had a weapon, there’s no telling what would have happened,” the sheriff said. "There's no relationship between these two - never met in their life."
He did not name the woman, who he described as a “very private person” who did not wish to speak to the media about what had occurred.
“This is the shining example of what this lady did — took the time to get her CWP and set herself up to be able to protect herself and not be harmed, killed or raped or whatever,” Sheriff Clark continued. “She came out on the good, on this end, and the other guy — the bad guy — didn’t.”
He said the woman’s heroic effort stopped a dangerous man from hurting anyone else.
“She solved the crime for us and she came out a winner,” he said. “I think she’ll be inspiration to a lot of other ladies.”
The two corrections officers who were attacked during the inmates’ escape were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injures.
Sheriff Clark also said that other inmates jumped in to help the correction officers during the incident.
According to The New York Times, McLaughlin had been arrested in Pickens County over a dozen times since 2006 for charges that included drug possession, shoplifting, and assault on a police officer.
He was awaiting trial for grand larceny and first-degree burglary when he carried out the prison escape.
Dill faces several additional offenses, including two counts of kidnapping, escape, two counts of first-degree assault and battery, malicious injury to a jail, and strong-arm robbery, WHNS reported.