Woman in a Wheelchair Shoots an Attacker
By ANAHAD O’CONNOR and SARAH GARLAND
Published: September 9, 2006
As muggings go, it began like many others. A 56-year-old woman was leaving her building in her wheelchair, her only company the small dog perched on her lap.
Her attacker came from behind, the police said, and there was no one else around. But this attempted robbery had an ending unlike many others. As it turns out, the would-be victim, Margaret Johnson, has a permit to carry a .357 handgun – and she carries it often.
No, she does not have a “permit to carry a .357 handgun” – read on.
The mugging ended seconds after it began, the police said, when Ms. Johnson pulled out her gun and shot her attacker in his arm. Last night, the man accused of the attempted mugging, Deron Johnson, 45, was in stable condition at Harlem Hospital Center with a gunshot wound to his elbow, the police said. He was under protective custody and is facing a robbery charge, the police said.
Ms. Johnson, who was treated at a local hospital and later released, said she suffered bruises to her neck and arm. “I’m tired, I’m really tired,” she said as she sat in her apartment last night, wearing a tan baseball cap and appearing rattled. “He tried to mug me, so I shot him.”
Friends and neighbors said they were not shocked to learn that the woman known to scoot around her building with her small dog had held her ground. Tio Frederick, 26, a lawyer and neighbor who has known Ms. Johnson for 20 years, called her amicable but tough and spunky. “I wouldn’t assume that if she got mugged she would let someone just take her stuff,” she said.
The encounter began about 3 p.m. on a sidewalk behind 470 Lenox Avenue in Harlem, the building where Ms. Johnson has lived for more than 20 years. The building has a doorman and many of its residents are professionals, but neighbors have recently complained about robberies.
Yesterday, as is often the case, friends said, Ms. Johnson had her small bichon with her, and was going to a nearby firing range.
There’s a firing range in Harlem? The closest one I could find to 470 Lenox Ave. was Seventh Regiment Rifle Club, 643 Park Ave., about 3.8 miles away according to Google Maps. That’s a long round-trip even in a powered chair. Hopefully she was going to get a taxi ride.
As she rolled out of the building, a man approached, and Ms. Johnson tried to say hello, said Lynell Bunce, 40, a friend who spoke with Ms. Johnson afterward. “She found him walking by, and she was going to say, ‘Good afternoon,'” Ms. Bunce said.
Instead of returning the greeting, the man looked away and walked past her without saying a word, Ms. Bunce said. Seconds later, Ms. Johnson felt an arm grab her violently from behind, tearing at her pocketbook and her necklace.
The man managed to get the necklace, but Ms. Johnson refused to let go of her pocketbook, the police said.
As the man choked her and struggled with her, Ms. Johnson pulled out her gun and fired a single shot.
The police said that Ms. Johnson did not have a criminal record and was not facing any charges. The permit she has for her gun allows her to have it in her home and to transport it to a range, which is what she was doing, they said.
She has a possession permit, not a carry permit, and she was transporting a loaded weapon. I’m not certain, but I believe that New York firearms law prohibits that. Let me cite the NYPD Web Page:
PREMISES LICENSE: IS A RESTRICTED TYPE OF LICENSE. It is issued for your RESIDENCE or BUSINESS. The Licensee may possess a handgun ONLY on the premises of the address indicated on the front of the license. Licensees may also transport their handguns and ammunition in SEPARATE LOCKED CONTAINERS, DIRECTLY to and from an authorized range, or hunting location. HANDGUNS MUST BE UNLOADED WHEN TRANSPORTING.
All emphasis is theirs. And quite emphatic they are, too. Ms. Johnson was not transporting her handgun, unloaded, in a locked container. Ms. Johnson was not transporting her ammunition in a separate locked container. Ms. Johnson was transporting her loaded .357 in a manner that put it easy-to-hand. Supposedly, she does so “often.” Ms. Johnson most definitely violated the law, but will the DA prosecute? Absolutely not. I think they learned their lesson there with Ronald Dixon. She’s an older black woman in a wheelchair who successfully defended herself against a career criminal. (I hate to be the one to say it, but as far as publicity goes the only PC box left unchecked on this one is “lesbian.”) No WAY are they going to do ANYTHING to put her in a position to point out how idiotic and anti-citizen New York’s gun laws are.
Though I’m certain that, after the hubbub dies down, her “premises permit” will be quietly revoked and her .357, which I’m sure was taken as evidence, will never be returned to her.
The man accused of attacking her, Mr. Johnson (no relation), was described by the authorities as a “robbery recidivist,” [Quelle surprise…] with nine previous arrests. He spent several years in prison for criminal sale of a controlled substance, and he was released in February 2003, according to Department of Correction Records.
Last night, Ms. Johnson was in no mood to celebrate what she did, friends said. Ms. Bunce, a longtime neighbor, said Ms. Johnson was frightened and threatened never to walk her dog again.
Wait… I thought she was “going to the gun range.” (Would you take your dog to the gun range? In New York City? Just asking.)
“She was very much the victim,” Ms. Bunce said. “She was scared for her life. She’s devastated.”
So, a resident of New York City, with a “premises permit” was supposedly on her way to the gun range when she was mugged, drew her (illegally) loaded firearm and defended herself from a much younger, physically fit, career criminal with a single shot from her .357 Magnum revolver, and the NEW YORK TIMES REPORTED IT!
I. Am. In. Shock.
And I’m quite certain you will never, ever hear about Ms. Johnson and her .357 in the pages of the New York Times again. I’m amazed she ever got there in the first place. After all, the perp didn’t take her gun away, and she wasn’t just another bloodstained chalk outline on the sidewalk.
UPDATE: Hell HAS frozen over! CNN picked up the story! Of course, with all the details stripped out.
Margaret Johnson, who lives in Harlem, has a permit for the weapon and does not face charges
That’s all you need to know, apparently.