Thursday, September 3, 2009

Michigan: Woman: Shooting man was self-defense

Bedford Township, Michigan

From the Battle Creek Enquirer of August 22, 2009
Woman: Shooting man was self-defense

A 70-year-old Bedford Township woman said Friday she had no choice but to shoot a man coming at her with a shovel.

"I didn't want to hurt him but I didn't want him to hurt me," Virginia Hawes said in an interview at her home in Bedford Hills Mobile Village. "I didn't want to kill him. I just wanted to stop him. If he would have stopped, no one would have gotten hurt."

Battle Creek police said Hawes shot Nicholas Beltz, 24, in the leg in her yard about 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

"He kept coming at me. I pointed the gun at his head, but I didn't want to shoot him in the head. I wimped out," she said.

Hawes said Beltz threatened her after she called police because his girlfriend, Emily Bannister, 18, said she was being assaulted.

Hawes said Bannister came to sit on her porch until police came. When Beltz began walking toward them, Hawes said she warned him to stay off her property.

"She was sitting on the porch and she got up but I told her to stay," Hawes said. "He said he just wanted to talk to her and he wanted to tell her he loved her and he kept coming. I thought he was going to hurt her."

Hawes' grandson, Bryan Hawes, 23, was outside with his grandmother and picked up a shovel, held it out horizontally in an attempt to block Beltz. But Beltz pushed Bryan Hawes aside and took the shovel.

Virginia Hawes said that is when she went inside her home, put five bullets in her .38-caliber revolver and walked back outside, holding the gun to her side.

She bought the handgun in March as protection from a former family member, registered it and had taken classes and practiced at South Side Sportsman Club in Battle Creek.

"I told him to get back and he kept walking toward me. I put the gun up and told him to get back or I will shoot. He called me an old bitch and he kept coming at me and holding the shovel."

Hawes said he told Beltz a half-dozen times to stop and leave her property.

When they were about four feet apart, she said he dropped the shovel but continued forward.

"He said, 'Shoot me in the head old bitch and I will take the gun away from you,' and I thought, 'If I shoot him in the head, how can he take the gun away?'"

Hawes said she believed that Beltz had been drinking and taking drugs and she decided she had to shoot.

She pointed the gun at his foot and pulled the trigger but said he stepped into the bullet and it hit him above the right knee.

"I figured I had to stop him. He was too drunk or high to understand," she said. "He went down like a tree."

After the shooting, Hawes went back inside the trailer, put the gun away and told her grandson to call police. When officers arrived, Beltz was on the ground moaning and she was handcuffed and placed in a patrol car after officers went inside to retrieve the gun.

Hawes, her grandson and witnesses were taken to the police station and questioned and she was released.

"I was prepared to spend a night in jail, but I didn't want to."

She doesn't regret the shooting.

"He was on our property and we were in danger. I didn't want to shoot in the air. I probably could have reached out and conked him with the gun.

"I have nothing to say to him. I really don't want to see him anymore."

Detective Sgt. Carter Bright of the Battle Creek Police Department said a report about the shooting will be sent to the prosecutor's office "but it appears to be self defense."

Bright said warrants have been issued charging domestic violence against Beltz and his girlfriend and assault and battery against Beltz, with Bryan Hawes as the victim.

Beltz's mother, Denise, said Friday afternoon her son remains in the hospital with significant pain.

"I am very upset by this. It was wrong that she had a gun and shot him. Nick is very upset and doesn't know why she did it."

Denise Beltz insisted her son would not hurt anyone and that her understanding was that he had turned to walk away when he was shot in the back of the leg; Bright said that theory does not appear to be true.

"It doesn't give her a right to have a gun when Nick didn't have a gun," Denise Beltz said.

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