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Carjacker Chooses Wrong Target Trying to Get Bride-to-Be's Truck

Crime: Shortly before her nuptials, she shoots the suspect during a tussle for her pistol.

July 07, 2002|From Associated Press

MOUNT VERNON, Mo. — Florists were hanging wisteria at Charlotte Ann Neely-White's home for her wedding when a stranger drove up, claimed there was a bomb in his car, and made the mistake of demanding her beloved pickup.

Neely-White had her fiance get her pistol, and while she fought with the man, the gun went off, wounding the man in the chest.

A few hours later, Neely-White got married as scheduled.

"It was a long day," the former public school principal said Friday.

"This lady was as calm as a cucumber. She can withstand anything. I admire her guts," said flower arranger Linda Cassidy. "I don't think I'd want to make her upset."

Lawrence County Sheriff Doug Seneker said he had no doubt that Neely-White acted in self-defense.

Witnesses said the confrontation started about three hours before Neely-White's Fourth of July wedding.

The stranger "went rushing by and then he slammed on his brakes, and then he came into the yard, and he said 'Somebody call 911 quick, there's a bomb in my car,' " Cassidy said. "He was scared and excited, and just kind of wired."

Then he demanded that Neely-White give him her pickup.

She refused.

"Have you ever had anything you really love? Well, I love that truck," said Neely-White, 55.

She said the man threatened to set off the bomb if she didn't give him her truck. "I said, 'No sir, you go ahead and set the bomb off. My house needs work anyway.' "

Neely-White said the man attacked her with a riding whip, so she yelled for her fiance, who had gone inside to call police, to grab her .22-caliber pistol.

"I probably mowed my fiance over," Neely-White said. As a former principal, it was in her nature to take control, she said.

Seneker said Neely-White and the assailant struggled for the gun, and it went off, hitting the man once in the chest. He managed to grab the gun from her, break a window in Neely-White's pickup with a piece of firewood and open the door. With the gun pointed at her, Neely-White backed off.

Police later arrested Jorge Luis Cecenas, 30, after he allegedly abandoned the pickup. He was charged Friday, while hospitalized with a chest wound, with first-degree assault and other counts.

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