Excerpt from Chapter One
HELPING OUT THE LAW: VIC STACY
Every Monday morning Sheriff Bobby Grubbs attends Brown County Commissioners Court at the county courthouse in Brownwood, a small city of 20,000 in central Texas. The stately brown brick courthouse dates to the 1800s and has been the scene of many dramas.
On Monday March 13, 2013, the proceedings at the courthouse would be different. Nobody would be sentenced to death or a long prison term, nor would anybody be found not guilty by reason of insanity. It was a bright sunny morning with a nip in the air.
Commissioners Court is a small room on the main floor of the courthouse and that morning it was full. Every seat was taken and people were standing at the back. A few local reporters sat at a table at the front of the public area while most of the commissioners sat in their assigned seats beyond the rail.
One of the men standing at the back was a tall 66-year-old welder with a weathered face and an easy-going attitude. He was dressed in blue jeans and a black vest with a yellow patterned kerchief around his neck. His name was Vic Stacy, a Brown County resident and a Texan from the top of his hat to the heels of his cowboy boots.
After the regular business of the commissioners, Sheriff Grubbs called Stacy forward. The sheriff read the words on a plaque before presenting it to Stacy. Grubbs praised Stacy for his courage in becoming involved in an incident the previous summer.
“He did a fantastic job. We will never know how many lives Vic may have saved that day.”
Two days later, Stacy was called again, this time to Governor Rick Perry's office at the Capitol in Austin. The governor also praised Stacy for his courage. “Vic Stacy is a great example of Texas and what people both intuitively think about Texas and what is real about Texas. That is, when neighbors are in need, Vic is there to help his neighbors.”
Perry presented him with what many people would describe as an assault rifle. It was a .308-caliber semi-automatic military-style rifle built by LaRue Tactical.
So who is Vic Stacy and what did he do to merit such attention?
Excerpt from Chapter Two
HOME INVASION: MELINDA HERMAN
Walton County Dispatcher: “Okay, what’s going on?”
Donnie Herman: “Hey listen. I have at my residence in Walton County, my wife is claiming that somebody might be trying to break into the house and she and my kids are in the attic.”
Dispatcher: “She called you?”
Donnie: “Yeah. (to Melinda) Can you hear him? Is he in the house? (to the Dispatcher) He’s in the house. (to Melinda) Stay in the attic, all right?”
Dispatcher: “They’re in the attic?”
Donnie explains that the attic is on the same level as the bedroom not above it. The dispatcher asks for the address and Donnie gives it to him.
The intruder used a pry-bar to break through the lock on the front door. Melinda told investigators she could hear him inside the house.
Donnie: (to Melinda) “Is he in the house, Linda? Are you sure? How do you know? You can hear him in the house? All right. (to the dispatcher) My wife says he’s in the house. (to Melinda) Linda, if he opens that door you shoot him, understand?”
Dispatcher: “She has a weapon?”
Dispatcher: “What type of weapon?”
Donnie: “A thirty-eight. (to Melinda) He’s in the bedroom? Relax, just remember everything I told you, everything that I taught you, right? (Pause.) I’m on the phone . . .”
Dispatcher: “Yes sir, we’re dispatching the police right now.”
Donnie: “Linda, I’m on the phone with nine-one-one dispatch right now.”
Donnie’s voice on the 911 recording is calm and reassuring. Melinda is answering him in a whisper.
The intruder apparently wasted no time looking for valuables, bypassing an open purse and an Apple iPad or cell-phone in the kitchen area. He went straight up the stairs and used the pry-bar to break the lock on the master bedroom door.
Melinda heard him moving around inside the bedroom. She put her cell phone on the attic floor and prepared herself to shoot. She heard the towel rack rattle against the bathroom door as he broke into the bathroom.
Donnie told investigators that he heard his wife telling the kids to pray, there was a pause, then he heard a shot.
Excerpt from Chapter Five
REMEMBER NEW ORLEANS: VINNIE PERVEL
Vinnie got out of his van and put his keys in his pocket. He noticed a lavender-colored Geo Prism, driven by a young black woman, had pulled in right behind him. He was paying attention to the Prism when he became aware of two young black men at the front of his van. They were about nineteen years old, both wearing long white T-shirts that reached to their knees, black jeans, and white tennis shoes. They were about Vinnie’s height – five feet eight inches – and a little lighter than his hundred and sixty pounds. Both wore their hair in long cornrows.
The Prism drove off as the men started asking questions. Vinnie recalled the conversation.
“How do we get out of here? We want to evacuate,” one of the men said.
“If you go right down this road here you can catch the ferry by the ferry landing; they’re evacuating free,” Vinnie said.
“You don’t realize, we have children.”
“They take children as well.”
At that point, Vinnie noticed that one of the men was holding one hand behind his back and he could see the end of what looked like a sledge-hammer handle. He was afraid the men meant to harm him so he turned away from them intending to yell to a group of about a dozen friends and neighbors who were at the end of the block. The group consisted of men, mostly armed with shotguns, and their wives. Vinnie knew them because they were all members of the neighborhood association.
Before he could open his mouth, one of the young men hit him in the back of the head with his fist, and Vinnie went down. As he fell, he hit the front of his head on the edge of a brick planter that was on the sidewalk. The other guy stood over him with a three-foot maul in his hand.
“Just stay down. We want your truck, the keys to your van,” the man demanded.
Vinnie told him the keys were in his pocket. One of them took them, got into the van and cranked it up. As soon as it was running, the other guy ran to the passenger side and got in, and the van took off south on Belleville. As they drove away, Vinnie’s fear gave way to anger.
“At the time I had a pair of pliers in my hand ‘cause that’s what I was cutting the gas off with. I just stood up and I flung the pliers and knocked out the back window of the van,” Vinnie said.
“I hit right in the middle of the back window and busted it out. The guys both turned around and looked at me because they thought I was shooting at them. They almost hit a tree but they just managed to turn left, go down another block, and turn right.”
Vinnie yelled to the group of friends and neighbors for help. They piled into a truck and drove towards him but Vinnie was chasing after his van and had made it another block when he saw a black police officer in uniform sitting in an unmarked white Crown Victoria. He told the officer the two men had stolen his van and hit him in the head. The officer said he would go after them.
“He turned around and went the other way.”
He was the last police officer Vinnie and his friends would see for ten days.
“I went home, told Gregg what happened, and he freaked out. My Mom freaked out, and I guess I freaked out ‘cause I went upstairs, and I got the gun, and went on my front porch upstairs off my bedroom. I sat on my second-floor balcony with the gun.”
The assault and the hijacking of his van was the defining moment for Vinnie Pervel. In those few minutes, he went from being a supporter of gun control to an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment. He realized why ordinary law-abiding citizens needed guns to defend themselves. He had just seen that residents could not rely on the police for protection or even to stop crime when it was happening. He was hearing random shots being fired, mostly across the river. He knew that with the break down of law and order, ordinary citizens would have to provide their own security. And that didn’t mean burglar alarms and deadbolts: it meant guns...