Woman, 74, Decides Enough Is Enough, Kills Would-Be Bandit

January 01, 1986|Associated Press

FORESTVILLE, Calif. — A 74-year-old woman whose grocery store has been broken into 13 times shot and killed a would-be robber who wounded her husband, sheriff's deputies said.

"I let him have it in the belly," Lillian Speer said. "That's where I thought I shot. I was told later he was shot in the heart."

The dead man was identified as Benjamin V. San Jose, 47, an ex-convict with a record for robberies and narcotics offenses going back 20 years, said Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Robert Nelson.

Lillian Speer's husband, Howard, 79, was wounded in the Sunday night shooting and was in critical but stable condition today.

Became Suspicious

Lillian Speer said Monday that she became suspicious when a stranger came to her house and told her she was needed at her grocery store. Before going outside, Lillian Speer and her husband grabbed handguns.

She said that as she stepped out the front door, the man popped up from behind a pickup truck with a gun in his hand.

"When he saw me with a gun, he didn't know what to do," the woman said. "Then he jumped me, got me around the neck from behind, then gave me a shove, saying, 'Get back in; get back in.' I think he wanted us back in the house to rob us."

She said her husband scuffled with the man, but the stranger broke free and pointed a gun at her husband. Lillian Speer said she believes she and the stranger fired at the same time.

The man fell to the ground but got up and fled in the darkness, police said.

A few minutes later, San Jose entered a house about three blocks away through an unlocked door and fell to the floor dead, Nelson said.

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