From the Orlando Sentinel of December 25, 2008
Ocoee man, 91, shoots at, repels home invaders who threatened his wife
Charles Johnson is a man of his word.
On Oct. 4, 1936, then 19, Johnson promised to love and protect his bride, Berlie Mae.
On Tuesday, he did.
Now 91, he scared off two home invaders with his 38-caliber revolver when the men threatened his wife of 72 years at their home east of Ocoee.
"I was going to kill him either way," the retired jack-of-all-trades said Wednesday. "She's all I've got to live for . . . Why would I want to live?"
Terror erupted in the Johnsons' heavily barred house on Lake Stanley Road shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday as the couple watched TV news. She was sitting in her wheelchair. He was sitting nearby on the sofa.
That's when a stranger stepped through the back door.
"What are you doing? What are you doing?" Berlie Mae Johnson, 90, remembered asking as the man stepped on her shiny-clean tile floor. "By then, he had the gun to my head. I don't know what all I said."
The man ordered the couple: "Be quiet. Don't say a word. Don't move."
Overcome by shock and fear, Berlie Mae Johnson said she couldn't move as a second man wearing a stocking over his face started to come through a sliding-glass door from the backyard.
"It's terrible. You don't know what [they're] going to do. You expect at any moment . . ." she said, her voice breaking. "I can't hold up. My nerves are shot. He'd probably have killed me."
But the love of her life was ready.
Her husband, who goes by Johnny, had his stainless-steel Police Special revolver tucked under a cushion on the sofa. He has been protective, she said, ever since they met at a Church of God service in Cocoa during the Great Depression.
"You don't think, man. You do what you have to do," Johnson said of how he grabbed his revolver as the second intruder entered. "He saw the gun and, boy, he was gone."
Shifting his aim, Johnson fired at the man still holding a gun to his wife's head.
"I shot as plain in his middle as I could have," said Johnson, describing how the man jumped and ran out the door. "I think I missed."
Orange County deputy sheriffs began arriving within three minutes of Johnson's 911 call. The response was delayed slightly because the home invaders tore out the Johnsons' telephone, so Johnson had to walk next door to call for help.
A K-9 tracked the home invaders' scent until it disappeared through a neighborhood on the south shore of Lake Stanley. Local hospital emergency rooms were notified to be on the lookout for a man suffering from an unexplained bullet wound.
Johnson bought his revolver for protection decades ago. A former citrus grove manager and plumber, Johnson said, "I'm still active. I still garden. We want to get a message out to other people. Be prepared. Keep your doors locked. And be alert."
His wife added, "And have a gun ready."
The Johnsons weren't worried that the home invaders might return.
"If he comes back he'll be sorry," Johnson said. "I'm ready for him."