A Young Punk, a Knife and an Elderly Couple

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Punk, Knife, Elderly CoupleIt’s a bloody and unspeakable vignette far too common in America and in this broken world generally. A 25-year-old man had been doing odd jobs in a neighborhood in Springfield Township, in the state of Ohio, including for a 92-year-old World War II veteran named Hugh, and his wife Ruby, aged 89. Apparently he got the idea that they might have a lot of cash in their home. One day he knocked on their door, which was opened by the frail 89-year-old Ruby. He made pleasant small talk, saying he’d soon be going to college, which made Ruby very glad. Then he asked if he could come in to use their telephone. On being ushered in, he talked with Ruby’s husband, Hugh, while she left the room. When she returned a minute later, she saw to her horror that he was wielding a knife and demanding money. Hugh was enraged, telling the young thug to “go to hell.” The punk swung the knife, slashing the elderly WWII veteran in the face and throat. He died on the floor from his wounds. The attacker then stabbed Ruby, pushing her to the ground. Then he apparently grabbed what he could find in the space of a few minutes. Cops who later picked him up—still in possession of the elderly couple’s credit cards and Ruby’s wedding and engagement rings—estimated that he basically had gotten away with a couple of hundred dollars in cash. Ruby survived long enough to describe to the police what had occurred, but died a week after the brutal attack.

What the hell is our world coming to? Yet, this and worse happens every day. It’s a very tough thing to face.

Except … on that particular day, this did not happen. That is, it did not end this way. When the 89-year-old woman Ruby returned to the room to see this young man displaying a knife and talking threateningly to her 92-year-old husband, Hugh Mathis, she quickly walked back to her bedroom and retrieved her legally-owned firearm. On her reappearance with the weapon, the would-be perpetrator ran out the front door. Cops arrested him later and he was held on bail of $1.5 million for three counts of aggravated robbery.

If we saw this happen in real life, or in a movie, who among us would not cheer? It is a case of the weak and the vulnerable turning the tables on someone strong, violent, and possessed by a wicked impulse, surprising that person with the ultimate equalizer in these situations: a firearm. No one got injured. Justice—as much as we can define it—was done. It is actually not so very unusual. It happened in April of this year, but got relatively little attention in the media, as many such stories that fail to fit the narrative of “gun violence” in America generally get little or no attention.

As violent as we humans can be, as violent as this world is, it’s surely a salutary thing to be reminded that allowing power to be wielded by the relatively weak and the vulnerable (but the law abiding) among us can sometimes result in the avoidance of acts of very great evil; indeed, unspeakable evil. This elderly couple survived to—please God—live out their last days in dignity and peace. The young gentleman who intruded on the elderly couple’s home and safety has another chance to reconsider his course and live an alternative life. Even in prison, every new morning is a chance for a new start (and the examples of that are also endless).

Peace out.