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Travesty of Justice -- the Plight of Melvin Spaulding

by Nicki Fellenzer

December 7, 2003

"They wanted me to call 9-1-1, but there was no time to do anything but take action." -- Melvin Spaulding, St. Petersburg, FL -- Last Sunday night, Pinellas County Sheriff's Deputies arrested 71-year-old Melvin Spaulding.  Mr. Spaulding's "crime"?  He saved his 63-year-old friend and neighbor George Lowe from being beaten and kicked to death by a band of local street punks.  According to news reports, Mr. Spaulding was arrested and held without bail.  The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's office is in the process of investigating the case, and no decision has been made at the time of this publication whether or not Mr. Spaulding would be formally charged.

Charged with what?  Attempted murder.

Yes, believe it or not.  Mr. Spaulding's elderly friend was being kicked to the ground by three thugs, who, according to Mr. Spaulding, have a history of terrorizing his neighborhood with their violent antics.  They beat and kicked Mr. Lowe for having the courage to tell them to stop hitting neighborhood cars and mailboxes.  They beat and kicked Mr. Lowe, without mercy.  And the only thing standing between the possible painful death of George Lowe was Melvin Spaulding and his pistol.

I spoke to Mr. Spaulding this afternoon by telephone.  He graciously spoke with me for about twenty minutes, despite the fact that his telephone has not stopped ringing since the national media picked up his story.  "This has me worried," he admitted.  "I'm 71 years old.  I have emphysema and heart problems.  I did the right thing.  My friend could have died if I had chosen to wait for the police."

As we spoke, I was more and more outraged that this gentle, kind man could, indeed, be charged with attempted murder.  Mr. Spaulding is a military veteran.  "I shoot all the time," he says.  "I didn't want to kill him."  He wanted to stop him.  He did what he could to stop James Moore and his violent pals from killing Mr. Lowe.  "I shot him in the arm.  His arm was away from his body when I fired."

"I'm sure he was concerned for his friend's safety...," said Pinellas County Sheriff's spokesman Tim Goodman. "The use of a weapon to stop a confrontation is not the right way. He would have been better off calling 911."

Melvin Spaulding had seconds to react.  Not minutes or hours.  Seconds.  "There was no time to do anything but take action," he said.  It sometimes takes police an hour to respond, and he didn't have that kind of time.  So when Moore raised his fist, ready to inflict more pain on Mr. Lowe, Melvin Spaulding fired.  And for this brave act, Mr. Spaulding could spend the rest of his life in prison.

There is a bright side.  Mr. Spaulding says he's received hundreds of telephone calls of support.  The national media, including Bill O'Reilly have picked up his cause, and local law enforcement officers have also been supportive. 

But we can do more.

I asked Mr. Spaulding what we, as members and readers could do to help him.  Would contacting the State Attorney's office en masse and demanding that no charges be filed help?  "That would be a good bit of help," he replied.

I believe that as Second Amendment supporters, gun owners and human beings we have a duty to help Mr. Spaulding.  We have an obligation to do our best to ensure that the kind of travesty that has landed hundreds of our fellow Americans in prison for simply defending their lives and the lives of others instead of relying on the nanny state to protect them does not touch Melvin Spaulding.  I believe we - as decent, law abiding human beings - must act now.

Please, for the sake of everything that is decent and for the sake of everything that is good and right, pick up the telephone or a pen and paper and write or call the Pinellas County, Florida State Attorney Bernie McCabe requesting that he not charge Melvin Spaulding with any crime.  Leave Melvin Spaulding alone.  Don't punish him.  Don't waste taxpayer dollars prosecuting him for defending the life of someone who was outnumbered by street thugs, laying on the ground and being systematically, violently brutalized.

Your letters will reach Mr. McCabe's office within a few days, but your telephone calls will reach him quicker.  Please show an outpouring of support for a man who had the courage to save another from three violent criminals.  Please don't let him be tried and arrested for saving Mr. Lowe's life - for acting like a decent human being.  Call and write the Pinellas County State Attorney right now.

Bernie McCabe, State Attorney
Sixth Judicial Circuit
PO Box 5028
Clearwater, FL 33758
(727) 464-6

Use all resources possible to contact the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Attorney General's office on Mr. Spaulding's behalf as well.

Crime Prevention - Attorney's General's Office

Florida Attorney General's Civil Rights Contact Form

Pinellas County Sheriff's Department Website
10750 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL 33778
(727) 582-6200

Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County
1-800-873-TIPS (8477)
Pinellas Crime Stoppers Coordinator:
Susan L. Fraley

Sheriff Everett Rice
(727) 582-6721

Sheriff's Advisory Board
(727) 582-6450