Was This Teen Mom Wrong to Kill an Intruder?

There are some stories that you hear that you know you’ll never forget. This is one of them.

Sarah McKinley is 18 years old and the mother of an 18 month old baby boy. Her husband died of cancer on Christmas Day, and a couple days later she buried him. On New Year’s Eve, she was home alone with her baby boy when two men came to her door and began knocking. She recognized one of the men as someone she suspected had been stalking her. After she wouldn’t open the door, the two men started banging on the door, trying to find a way to break in. Sarah grabbed her baby, a bottle, and a shotgun and ran into a bedroom where she called 911. The dispatcher told her to protect her baby and that the men needed to be in her house before she could shoot them. Finally, the men broke through the front door, and the first one lunged at her with a 12 inch hunting knife. Sarah pulled the trigger and shot the man in the chest. He died on her living room floor, and the other man fled.

This was not a robbery. Police suspect that these men were there to assault her and to do who knows what to her baby. Yet when CNN interviewed Sarah (see video below), Dr. Drew asked if she felt bad about shooting the man. It seemed kind of a strange question for anyone to ask, but there it was. Sarah said that she did not feel bad about what she did. At the end of the interview, another CNN commentator took the chance to say that this incident is very rare and that usually guns in the home end up accidentally killing innocent people. I don’t know about you, but I’m astonished that these CNN commentators would think this a good occasion to opine on the dangers of gun ownership. But that’s exactly what happened.

The commentator was right about one thing, however. This is a rare incident. Usually this kind of attack ends with the woman and child being assaulted and/or killed. Yet Sarah kept her cool and protected her home. Anyone who would even hint at any fault on Sarah’s part needs to have his head examined.

54 Responses to Was This Teen Mom Wrong to Kill an Intruder?

  1. donsands January 5, 2012 at 7:16 am #

    Excellent brave girl. Nice she had gun. A gun trumps a 12 inch knife. Thanks for the post. Have a great day in our Lord’s sovereign presence.

  2. Rick January 5, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    I don’t think she can be faulted for protecting lives, but I also think we need to keep in mind that a human life was lost. Although we live in a fallen world, and unfortunate actions may sometimes have to be taken, as Christians we still need to feel a sense of sadness that a life ended.

    • Doc B January 5, 2012 at 11:11 am #

      No, Rick, a life was not lost, it was forfeited.

  3. Barnabas January 5, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    As Sean Connery once said, “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.”

  4. Reggie January 5, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I didn’t watch the videos, but if the CNN person really said that guns in the home usually leads to killing innocent people, then they should be pretty embarrassed by the comment. Having grown up in the Midwest where gun ownership is more the norm than a rarity, I can say that guns in the home do not “usually” lead to killing innocent people.

    You’re right, though – poor time to opine on gun ownership to the nation.

  5. Sam January 5, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    In the worldview of CNN leadership, she would have been more justified killing her child for invading her lifestyle than killing an attacker.

  6. Amanda January 5, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    I am not at all suprised that the news media would try to make this story about the dangers of gun ownership. Even though the idea that more gun owners are injured by the gun they own than protected by it is wrong, it’s one that they are married to. This story makes it sound like that idea is wrong, therefore they need to say that stories like this are rare.

    And I have to say, while we shouldn’t be jumping up and down happy about the death of this man, I don’t think we owe any particular sadness to this story, either. A woman protected her life and the life of her child from a man who was probably going to kill her. I believe that it is okay for us to be glad that she was able to use her right of gun ownership to save herself and her child.

    • ACTX January 5, 2012 at 10:20 am #

      I kind of disagree, we should be celebrating two events – that the woman and child are safe and that a very bad man won’t be harming the innocent any more. . .forever.

      It would have been better had the two men not attempted to assault a young woman and her baby. Once they made that decision and acted on it, the best outcome is two dead evil men. Second best outcome is one dead evil man and one in jail.

      • Ross January 5, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

        ACTX – you said it for me

  7. Gabe January 5, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    If it weren’t for this happening, rest assured that these psychopaths would have targeted another woman. Good for her, the guy got exactly what he deserved and she shouldn’t feel a bit of remorse. There’s no way this woman, and possibly even her child, would have made it out alive. People like this get sick thrills from killing other human beings, scary that there are people in this world with such sick minds. In 99.9% of cases like this, there is no rehab for a true psychopath, they don’t feel empathy that a normal human being would feel.

  8. Tyler January 5, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Denny,

    I am not saying I don’t disagree with you about your position but you do make it sound like someone is crazy for being nonviolent. I am ok with you admiring her bravery but when you say, ‘Anyone who would even hint at fault by Sarah needs to have their head examined’ you make is sound like we are stupid for even proposing a nonviolent expression of following Jesus. I am sympathetic to our nonviolent brothers and sisters who do want to honor passages like ‘love your enemies’ and that is how they understand them. I would hope you would do the same.

    Peace.

    • AStev January 5, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      Nonviolence is a reasonable option when the question is merely defending ones’ self. But this woman was also defending her child. The Bible is pretty unambiguous about our responsibility to defend the innocent when it’s in our immediate ability to do so.

      • Robert January 5, 2012 at 10:55 am #

        AMEN!

      • Joe January 5, 2012 at 11:31 am #

        Also, it is not loving to her child to let the enemy come in to destroy.

    • Doc B January 5, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Tyler, Denny’s remark was specifically about Sarah, not you or your non-violent brothers. By changing the focus of his remark, you are setting up a straw-man to knock down.

      But, moving over to your point, if Jesus were strictly about non-violence, he broke his own code. (He didn’t, because he wasn’t.) Read John 2:15. He didn’t need a whip if he were going to plead with the violators in a non-violent way.

    • Paul January 6, 2012 at 2:08 am #

      I’m a Mennonite. I’m all about nonviolence. That said, pragmatically speaking, this lady was on the money. Nonviolence is one thing, but letting someone else decide your fate in the name of loving thy enemies is a bridge too far as far as I’m concerned.

    • Frank January 6, 2012 at 5:15 am #

      “you make is sound like we are stupid for even proposing a nonviolent expression”

      I certainly see it that way.

      Anyone prepared to attack ,rape or murder a woman deserves what he got.

    • denise January 6, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      Tyler,
      I believe you are way off b\ase.
      I agree it is wrong to shot another human being, but self-defnse and s aving your child. is a whole different ball game.
      The Bible does say “an eye for an eye”. This young mother used the brain that God gave here to protect herself and her child. The man would not have been shot if he were not here to hurt her and/or her child.i SAY “yOU GO GIRL,” And thank God for the courage to do what you HAD to do

    • snowbunny January 9, 2012 at 1:00 am #

      Loving thy enemy is about forgiveness, not self-defense.

  9. Caleb Land January 5, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    Tyler,

    Are you a parent? It is much more difficult to reconcile our God given responsibility to protect our children when they are under imminent threat of being butchered with a hunting knife with the pacifist position you take.

  10. Judi January 5, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    I disagree with the overall message of this article. It’s not strange at all that DR. Drew asked if she felt bad. To take another life would be hard on anyone regardless of the reasons especially on a young mother who recently went through the death of a loved one. Regarding CNNs statement regarding the statistics of guns in the home, as you agreed they are correct. Had their been a drawn out segment regarding the dangers of gun ownership then CNNs message would have been clear but I believe it was an unbiased remark about firearms in the home.

    • Joe January 5, 2012 at 11:33 am #

      Pools are more dangerous than guns. You don’t see commentators talking about not having pools…

      See John Lott’s seminal work, “More Guns Less Crime.”

  11. Travis January 5, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Tyler,
    How exactly would she have loved her enemies in this instance? By letting them attack her and her child? This is an honest question that I am trying to have insight in to. I would take more of a stance that the ‘love your enemies’ quote would be better applied to her forgiving them in their intent and, if it came to it, their actions if she had not stopped him. However I do not think it absolves us from the responsibility of protecting ourselves from assault.

    Grace and Peace,
    Travis

  12. BlackCalvinist January 5, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Good for her. One less idiot-psychopath-stalker-murderer-rapist in the world. May the police catch the other one and put him under the jail. This one’s straightforward to me.

    Tyler, if someone broke into your house to rape and kill your wife, mother or sister, would you fault them for taking the life of the intruder in self-defense ?

  13. Robb January 5, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Statistics in America show that for every self-defense related death involving a gun, 43 family members are killed in a gun related incident within the home. Gun ownership is significantly correlated with an increase in the home suicide rate and the homicide rate within the family. This is true whether looking at rural or urban settings.

    What the news anchor said is unfortunately true.

    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/405837_4

    • Bradley January 6, 2012 at 1:27 am #

      Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Even if we didn’t have guns people are still sinful and corrupt and will continue to take lives of others and their own lives no matter what.

      Guns = Neutral.
      People = Bad (sinful)

    • Jason January 7, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

      I think Denny’s point at the end puts this in perspective. You need to somehow factor in how many defenseless people are killed by intruders bearing guns.

  14. yankeegospelgirl January 5, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    ROCK ON GIRL! Totally with Denny. Good for her for answering that stupid question in that way. I for one don’t feel even the slightest hint of sadness that “a life was lost.” That guy deserved to be pushing up daisies, and now he is. End of story.

  15. John January 5, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    I think a potetial attack with a 8″ Bowie knife trumps “Love your enemies” any day. I commend her for acting on her God-given instincts.

  16. Harvey January 5, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    So where were the police after she had been on the phone for 20 minutes with 911???

    This is the perfect example of why responsible armed citizens have a gun in the first place.

  17. Reg Schofield January 5, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    She was right on in defending herself and her baby. I would call this an act of right defense that needs no repentance or justification for doing so. Anyone who knows me personally would tell you point blank that when it comes to my wife and boys , if anyone tried to do them harm , I would without blinking an eye , use lethal force. There are times when someone intent on a wicked action receives his just forward and I would say this coward did.

  18. Don Johnson January 5, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    No, she was not wrong. It is not stated whether she is a believer or not, but a Christian is to oppose evil.

  19. Christiane January 5, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    I don’t think she had a ‘choice’ . . . and her instinct as a mother to protect that baby is a God-given instinct. The man was coming at her with a knife. She stopped him.
    Her baby is safe.

    We don’t know about this man, except that she says she thought he had been ‘stalking her’, which means she was likely not going to survive any encounter, since she would have been able to identify him. She defended herself.
    She is safe.

    No choice but to defend herself. No one can fault her on what she ‘had’ to do. And everyone can be most grateful that a mother and her baby are alive and survived a nightmare.

    Guns in the home? They do kill more family members than intruders.
    People take ‘chances’ and some are irresponsible gun owners.
    This young woman was absolutely on target with how she handled this terrifying incident, even to confirming with the 911 operator about using the gun to shoot the intruder.

    Thank God she is safe.
    She had no choice. The intruder had a choice.
    The intruder will not be able to attempt to harm any more young mothers and babies.

    There is a justice that we can all see in what happened.

  20. DRC January 5, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    That baby isn’t 18 months old. Maybe 18 days….

  21. Jeremy January 5, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    If I was being attacked for preaching the good news, I wouldn’t retaliate. Persecution is expected when we bear witness to the gospel (Matt 5:10-11, etc.). If I was being attacked for some other reason, I would defend myself. If I was in a similar situation as Sarah, I would’ve defended myself and my family.

    However, if my children or wife were being attacked because I was preaching the good news, I don’t know that I wouldn’t use whatever means available to protect them. I wouldn’t want to kill someone else unless it absolutely necessary. I don’t know if that’s right, though.

  22. John January 5, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    If they came to my house the reporter would be asking my wife why she shot him six times and she would say, Cause that’s all the bullets I had!

  23. David January 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    In typical fashion – the CNN folks are more disturbed that she used a gun to defend herself than they would be if she had been raped and/or killed.

    Good for you Denny – she did the right thing in defending herself and her child. It’s pretty sad that it’s even up for debate.

  24. Neil January 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    That’s typical of the media to try and spin a powerful pro-gun story into an anti-gun message. We need more guns like this, not less. Hopefully that will make the next bad guy think twice.

  25. Carol Blair January 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Re: The home invasion article:

    Every woman reading this should ask herself, “What would I do if I were in the same situation?” And every man reading this should ask himself the same question on behalf of his wife/mother/daughter/sister. For those who have a gun and would not be afraid to use it in an emergency such as this – good. But in my experience, most women do not have a gun. Those in that category must plan for self defense by some other means. I suggest pepper spray – several large canisters around the house and a small one to carry in your pocket (*not* in the bottom of your purse) when out. Pepper spray is available on the internet, and it is not expensive. Another option is wasp spray. Wasp spray, less than $3/can, has the same incapacitating effect on the attacker, but the spray from the large can will go 15-20 feet, which is farther than pepper spray. I have pepper spray *and* wasp spray, and periodically I “practice” with them both in the back yard, to remain familiar with the cans and how far the spray goes.
    “The prudent [woman] foresees evil and prepares [herself]” –from Proverbs 22:3

    • Paula January 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

      Really excellent point, Carol. Though I’m an ardent 2nd amendment proponent, I don’t know if I could use deadly force myself if in that situation. I’m squeamish about squishing insects! I do think I could wield a can of wasp spray though, though.

      I heard a follow-up report about this story saying that the men had previously been to the house looking for drugs. They knew the husband had been prescribed powerful painkillers were back looking for them. I that increased the danger of the situation exponentially. The relative calmness of the mother in that situation was amazing.

  26. Randy January 5, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    No, she was not wrong. It’s clear she felt threatened. It’s not clear to me if they knew she was inside or not or what their objective was (robbery doesn’t seem likely, but who knows). Put me on a jury and I’ll acquit her as quickly as you can say her name.

    I worry about her. She’s been through a lot, a new baby, losing her husband and now this and she’s only 18. Taking a life, even under these circumstances, can’t be easy (I don’t know, I’ve never done it). I hope some good people close to her step in and offer her help. What kind of bills does she have from her husband’s death? What is the status of the door that was broken in? Does she have family/friends/church to help her emotionally and financially.

    Last issue, small question, which gun did she use to shoot the intruder? If the shotgun, wouldn’t that make a mess? Who will clean it up? If the pistol, she must be a good shot.

    I hope we have all of the story in this case. Call me skeptical, but I’m always leery….

  27. Gabe January 5, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    I just read an article on CNN, the the other guy who entered the house, Dustin Louis Stewart, 29, has been captured by police. He is being charged with First Degree Murder even though he didn’t pull the trigger. Under Oklahoma law an accomplice can be charged with murder if their partner is killed in an act of self defense. I was very happy to hear this news, this predator should never be allowed back on the streets. Justin Shane Martin, 24, was shot at point blank range in the upper torso with a 12 gauge shotgun. No wonder the other guy fled, I’m sure his partner was nearly blown in half.

  28. Barry January 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    Sad that the man had to be shot, but Sarah had little choice. This is exactly why we still need a sound interpretation of the 2nd amendment. She did not go looking for someone to kill. She did the right thing. Good for her, in one sense, though I am not glad that she had to kill him in the process.That being said, I would have done the same thing, and so would have my wife. This is why we have guns in the house – locked up, but can be quickly accessed if ever needed.

    Actions have consequences, and she was well within her rights to do this. I expect nothing less from CNN, however. Poll it, and you’ll see that 80% or more Americans said she did the right thing. She could have been raped and/or killed, as well as the baby. That child is already fatherless – good for Sarah for not letting these criminals make her child an orphan.

    Let’s teach our kids to handle guns – safely – but teach them nonetheless.

    Barry

  29. Chuck January 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    In addition to a young woman and her child coming out of an attack safely, and one inidisputably guilty man being dispatched, and his accomplice in custody, perhaps an unexpected upside will be a wake up call for the media. Maybe, despite their default possition of denying the obvious, they will realize that the vast majority of people will react favorably to upholding the Second Amendment rather than the chipping away at it to the point of extinction, which I have to believe is the ultimate goal of most lefties.

  30. Debbye January 5, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Of course she did the right thing. My heart goes out to her, though, because she had just buried her husband a few days prior to this incident. Heartbreakingly sad. Hopefully, the believers in her area will make themselves available to assist this brave young mom.

  31. Nathan Hager January 5, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    No, she was certainly not wrong. Good for her. I would hope my wife would do the same in my absence. And my daughter as well.
    Very interesting comments by some. “Nonviolent”….. What exactly would have had her do, Justin? Hand over her defenseless infant to a criminal? How sad.
    No, she was not wrong. More of this, and less of the government taking care of people is what we need.

  32. Patrick January 5, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    I agree with those who have spoken of this mother’s courage and heroism. Also, I do not believe there is anything inconsistent with loving one’s enemies and (under very limited circumstances like this one here) killing them.

  33. yankeegospelgirl January 5, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    One of the criminals had been clearly casing out her house earlier that day. He came by and said he “wanted to welcome her to the neighborhood.” Obviously he wanted to see if there was a man there. When he saw there wasn’t…

    I’ll be sure to keep that in mind next time a stranger says he’d like to welcome me to a new neighborhood.

  34. Pecadillo January 5, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    Tyler, I’m sorry if Denny’s comment made you feel stupid, but I don’t think that’s Denny’s fault. You are profoundly misguided if you believe that Jesus’ commandment to “love thy enemy” means that Christian parents are expected to allow an intruder to kill their children. And the implication that taking any offensive action in such a situation would be a violation of Jesus’ commandment is a dangerous perversion of God’s word. 

    Please, I am begging you, read this quick blogpost about pacifism:

    http://phillipjohnson.blogspot.com/2005/10/go-ahead-make-my-day.html

    I find it particularly troubling that the statement which motivated you to initially comment was when Denny said, “anyone who would even hint at fault by Sarah needs to have their head examined.” The fact that you were offended by that proves that do in fact find fault with Sarah’s actions. You actually believe that she should have stood there and watched her child stabbed to death and allowed herself to be raped and possibly worse even though she had the ability to protect her family. 

    That disgusts me. I sure hope Sarah never googles the story and stumbles across this comment thread. It would be a shame for the poor woman, after losing her husband and then surviving this traumatic experience; to have to read some misguided, Biblically inept, armchair quarterback suggest that her actions were morally wrong. 

    I’m a police officer, and in the course of duty I’ve had to take a life in a similar type of situation. The person I killed had just murdered his estranged wife and he was threatening the lives of 10-20 people in a parking lot. I am sad that another person was condemned to hell that day, and it was unsettling to have carried out that condemnation, but I have never once felt remorse for what I did. Not only was it my duty as a police officer to protect the public, it was my duty as a Christian to stop any further crimes from taking place. 

    Romans 13:4 
    For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

    Where’s the pacifism in that?

  35. Mary January 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    I pray that I would have the courage Sarah did under those conditions. Good for her! I am surprised that no one has ppointed out that far more crimes like this are prevented simply because the intruder flees at the sight of a gun. I read article after article in The American Rifleman’s Armed Citizen feature where inocent people protect themselves and prevent attacks just by showing a weapon. Many of these intruders are held until the police arrive. Not all victims have that option. When faced with a life or death choice, I vote that the criminal is dead and the inocent lives.

  36. Tyler January 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Hey Pecadillo,

    I am don’t think I was very clear the point I was trying to make. I am sorry about that. I started by saying that I don’t disagree with Denny but it easy to skip over that when you starting throwing in ‘nonviolent’ expression. I guess I was just trying to promote some unity among brothers and sisters. There are some in our family who are strong proponents of nonviolent expression (i.e. Amish, Mennonite, etc.). I just wanted to make sure that we were recognizing their understanding of those passages and that they weren’t being considered ‘wrong in the head’. Someone pointed out that this specific statement was directed at the people in the article. Sorry if I missed understood the ‘anyone’. So in the end, I was just trying to promote the unity of the faith.

    Peace.

  37. jon January 19, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    She is one of the greatest people on earth as far as I’m concerned. I’m so sick and tired of seeing these stories of women who have done awful things to their children,or have allowed awful things to be done to their children. She is a role model for all single mothers as far as I’m concerned. The old saying goes “there’s nothing more dangerous than a mom protecting her child”. To Sarah,don’t just keep your head held high,keep a smile on your face and happiness in your heart. You did the right thing. Your child is alive today because of what you did. Don’t you dare second guess yourself,if you would’ve allowed yourself to be the victim you would of allowed your child to be a victim. Your are everything that god wants mothers to be. I only hope that my daughter if ever faced with that situation does the EXACT same thing you did. You are an insperation to all mothers. I hope you never have to go through any pain or sorrow from this day on because I believe you have had enough for two lifetimes.

  38. Chris February 21, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    She was wrong very wrong, you know why because she didn’t go and hunt the other guy down and kill him. You did the right thing your a Great American. God Bless you and Hoo-ah

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