Vietnam veteran uses butt of shotgun to kill home invader who attacked his wife

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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. — A home invader who was armed with a knife and attacked a 79-year-old South Carolina woman near her back door is dead after the victim’s 82-year-old Vietnam War veteran husband beat him down with the butt end of a shotgun about noon on Monday, according to local authorities.

Herbert Parrish snatched the firearm off a wall mount after the suspect, identified as 61-year-old Harold Runnels, broke into the home while carrying a knife, knocked his wife to the ground and slashed her forehead Monday afternoon, FOX 57 reported.

Runnels, who lived in a nearby mobile home community, reportedly knocked on the victims’ back door asking about a lost dog.

“I opened the door and he said he was looking for his little white chihuahua and wanted to know if I saw it. I told him, no, I didn’t,” said Lois Parrish.

Next, police say Runnels forced his way in armed with a large knife attacking them, using the handle of the knife to hit them repeatedly. He knocked the wife down injuring her and cutting her forehead with the knife. That’s when the husband began hitting Runnels with the butt of his firearm until he was on the ground and unresponsive, according to WJBF-TV.

Runnels later died at a hospital due to injuries suffered in the scuffle, according to authorities.

Neighbors said they weren’t familiar with the suspect and are shocked at the attempted home invasion. Jessica Clark said she was relieved to hear the victims were ok. She told local reporters the husband is a decorated vet who fought in Vietnam.

“When I heard they were able to fend off the suspect, I was so proud of them and I was like, ok, so that guy picked the wrong house,” she said.

A motive for the crime is unclear at this time.

Aiken County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Eric Abdullah, a department spokesman, said residents should call 911 immediately if they suspect their home is being broken into.

“Of course, folks have the right to defend themselves if their lives are in danger, but the best thing to do is to call for help,” he told the Aiken Standard newspaper. “Every situation is going to be different. It may be a similar crime in nature, but every situation is going to be different. There’s no way to accurately predict exactly what actions that any person should take if somebody is trying to invade their home. The best recourse is to think smartly and get help on the way.”

Authorities confirmed the Parrishes actions were self-defense, and would not be charged with Runnels death. They were both treated for minor injuries but were expected to be all right.

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