SOUTH BEND, INDIANA -- When Tony D. Murry held a box cutter to Sue Gay's neck Monday night, Gay's 11-year-old adopted son ran upstairs at the home at 1348 N. Huey St. and grabbed a gun.
"He hit the bottom of the stairs with the .45 and stood ready stance with the gun," said Gay with feet spread apart and her hands outstretched as if holding a handgun.
The boy shot one round and hit Murry, 27, in the chest, even though the man was shielding himself with Gay.
"I don't know how he did that. One shot and he got him. He's my little hero," Gay said of the grandson she adopted.
The fifth-grader may not have been just a lucky shot. This is a family that knows guns.
"Before his dad died, they'd go target shooting. He knows they're not toys and not something to mess with," Gay said.
Ironically, it was guns that Murry may have come for in the first place.
"Murry demanded all the weapons in the house. Gay's late husband was a weapons collector and Murry knew of the collection," said St. Joseph County Prosecutor Chris Toth, who said this was a case of justifiable homicide.
Gay said her daughter, who is the boy's biological mother and currently in prison, was acquainted with Murry. Murry, or " Casper" as Gay knew him, would come by every couple of months to ask about Gay's daughter. The two never dated, according to Gay.
"I'm not sure where they met. Probably in South Bend when she was off on one of her drug binges," Gay said.
In an arrest in November, Murry listed " drug dealer" as his occupation, according to booking records at the St. Joseph County Jail.
"I'm upset because she put us in this position. She didn't send him (Murry) over here, but he was one of her acquaintances. I'm more mad at him though," Gay said.
Murry had been inside Gay's house before Monday night and she trusted him. But this visit was different.
"I know he was drunk. At first he wanted me to buy him booze. Then he wanted me to drive him home. I don't leave my house after dark," Gay said.
Gay said Murry had been at the house for about a half an hour. She said she asked him to leave at 8 p.m. because she needed to go to bed. She normally leaves for work at 3 a.m.
"He got irritated and asked for a drink of water. When I was in the kitchen he held the razor knife (box cutter) to my son's throat and said
"This is not anything personal," Gay said.
Then Murry rushed up behind Gay and held the box cutter to her throat, she said.
"He told me, "Take me to where the guns are." He pushed me through the kitchen and into the front room," Gay said.
Gay stopped at the love seat, put her left foot on it and pushed back on Murry, she said.
"I pushed up so he couldn't push me forward any more, and I tried to push his hands down off my neck but he had a tight grip. I called for my son to say
"call 911," Gay said.
That's when the boy appeared with the gun. Murry ducked his head behind Gay's small frame. Some of his torso was left unshielded.
"I'm looking down the barrel of a gun that's in an 11-year-old's hands. I knew that if he pulled that trigger I was going to die," Gay said.
But Gay was not hit. She said they didn't immediately know Murry had been shot.
"Casper went for the front door, turned the handle and went out of the house. My son ran to me and set the gun down. I hurried up and locked the door and called 911," Gay said.
South Bend police found Murry, of 2009 W. Linden Ave., outside the home. He died in the emergency room at Memorial Hospital.
"The young man reasonably believed his mother and himself to be in danger of dying. It was clear to us this was a justifiable homicide," Toth said.
"He did what he had to do. That's an unfortunate burden for an 11-year-old to have on him," he said.
Murry had a criminal history. Between 1993 and 2001 he had several misdemeanor arrests.
Murry had a theft conviction from 1994 and a conviction for attempted theft in 1993, which was treated as a misdemeanor.
Murry had been convicted of unarmed robbery for which he received a four-year prison sentence in 1997.
At the time of his death, Murry was charged in two Class D felony auto theft cases pending in St. Joseph Superior Court. He was scheduled to appear in court Feb. 26 for a possible guilty plea.
Meantime, Gay said after 23 years at 1348 N. Huey St., she is putting the house up for sale and moving with her son out into the county, where her fiance lives.
Gay said the boy is doing well since the shooting.
"He's proud of himself. He feels bad he took a human life. But he didn't want to lose me. He lost his dad three years ago to a heart attack," Gay said.
Tribune Staff Writer Marti Goodlad Heline contributed to this article.
Staff writer Gwen O'Brien: (574) 235-6333
11-year-old shoots, kills assailant threatening his grandmother
Originally ran here
"Toth: Eleven-year-old placed in tragic situation"
February 05, 2002
Toth: Eleven-year-old placed in tragic situation
Police say an eleven-year-old boy, acting in defense of his mother, shot and killed a man last night. It happened Monday night at a home on North Huey St. on South Bend's northwest side. Police say Sue Gay lives in the home threatened by Tony Murry, 28.
Gay is calling her son a hero. "I always told him I was there to protect him." Sue's son proved he could also protect her.
Family knew Murry
Gay says, "Murry would show up every two to three months and ask about my daughter. He'd stay for maybe 20 minutes and he would leave. We never had any problems out of him."
Gay says this time Murry, whose has been booked into jail 16 times in the past nine years, wouldn't leave. "I was walking through the kitchen to get him a glass of water when he rushed into the kitchen. He rushed around behind me and put a box cutter to my throat. He said
"Put the water down. Take me to where the guns are." I said, "No I won't do it."
Gay yelled for her son who learned how to shoot a gun from his dad before he died. " He came down the stairs and took a ready position with the gun. All I'm doing is looking at the barrel of a gun. The next thing I know he pulled the trigger."
Sue's son pulled the trigger once hitting Murry in the upper chest. She is amazed that he did it with one shot and didn't hit her.
Rick Stanley, a family friend, said that the boy's father and grandfather knew how to use guns. " He told him the proper way how to do everything. [The boy] knew what to do and he wasn't afraid to do it either."
Toth: It's still a tragic situation
The boy shot Murry once in the upper chest. Murry had been booked at the county jail 16 times in the past nine years after arrests for domestic violence, attempted robbery and car jacking. " Just because a shooting is ruled as being justified doesn't make it any less tragic," said St. Joseph County Prosecutor Chris Toth.
Toth says the fifth grader will not face murder charges because he was protecting his mom who was in danger. "It's a tragic situation. Even though this individual who got shot was attempting to rob this mother and her son, he's still somebody's son, and obviously this eleven-year-old boy was placed in a situation no young person should ever have to face."
Murry died at the hospital
After two separate arrests, Murry listed his occupation on his jail booking sheet as drug dealer. After being shot, Murry left the home on foot but collapsed in the alley. He died later at the hospital emergency room.
Future of Gay
Gay says her son is doing fine. She is concerned how the incident may affect him later and says he will be going to a counselor. The family is planning on moving and changing schools for fear of retaliation.
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