66-Year-Old Woman Shoots Intruder

11-10-05 - A woman who wounded an intruder hiding in one of her closets says she shot his leg because she didn't want to kill him.

Susan Gaylord Buxton, 66, said she's a good shot and could have killed the man because her gun instructors taught her well. Instead, she said, she aimed for his leg and fired a second shot to warn him as he hobbled off.

Buxton has a permit to carry a handgun and will not be charged with a crime because she was defending herself, police said.

"If I didn't have a gun to protect myself, I probably wouldn't be here," Buxton said.

When Buxton let her dog out about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, she noticed a muddy footprint on her back porch.

Buxton heard glass breaking and noticed that her cats were not in the room where they slept and that items in another room had been moved, police said. She told her 28-year-old granddaughter to call 911.

Clutching her gun, Buxton checked several closets, eventually opening one near the front door. She said she pulled a coat away and saw a man, then told him to get on the floor or she'd shoot.

He kept trying to grab the gun, but she fended him off, she said. He fumbled with the front door with one hand and reached for the gun with the other.

She fired once, striking him in the leg.

Buxton heard him cry, "Ow, you shot me!" she said. The gun was the one she keeps to scare away coyotes. She said she keeps the .38-caliber handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets.

In a 911 recording obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Buxton is heard telling Lessner to lie on the floor before the first shot is fired. Before the second shot, Buxton said to her granddaughter, "Get the police out here or this is it for him."

She said to Lessner, who had retreated to the front yard:

"How dare you come into my house, you lousy (expletive). ... Shut up." A shot is fired.

"He got away, damn it," Buxton said on the 911 tape.

Christopher Lessner, 22, was treated for a leg wound at a Fort Worth hospital, said Christy Gilfour, Arlington police spokeswoman. Lessner faces charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, evading arrest, criminal mischief and criminal trespass, police said.

Lessner wound up in Buxton's sights after he fled from officers who had tried to ticket him for speeding in a stolen car at about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday on Interstate 30, Gilfour said. He jumped from a moving vehicle and fled into a wooded area before entering Buxton's house.

"That was the wrong house," Buxton said. "That was my house."

After officers arrived in Buxton's neighborhood, they found and captured Lessner at a nearby house.

Buxton is an artist who worked as a cartoonist for the Arlington Citizen-Journal and as a courtroom illustrator. She said she obtained her handgun permit after someone tried to kidnap another granddaughter 12 years ago.