SPOKANE, Wash. -- Friends say Sandra Mize is soft-spoken with a great laugh, but don't mess with the 63-year-old grandmother of 10.
When she was awakened by an intruder smashing through her backdoor early Wednesday she grabbed her gun and confronted the man. When he kept coming, she fired the gun for the first time in 30 years.
She missed. The man sat down and waited while she called 911. After officers took the intruder into custody they gave Mize a junior police badge, The Spokesman-Review reported Thursday.
"Having a firearm in your home for personal protection, I guess we got to see the value of that last night," said Police Chief Frank Straub.
It's a hotly debated issue in Spokane where a suspected car thief was shot and killed by the owner nine days earlier about a mile from Mize's home. Prosecutors are deciding whether to charge Gail Gerlach in the death of Brendon Kaluza-Graham. Gerlach said he thought the thief was going to shoot him.
"I could let my car drive down the block," Mize said. "That doesn't bother me. Someone in my home bothers me."
Mize was sleeping when she heard her back door splintering.
She grabbed the .22-caliber handgun she keeps by her bed and ran into her dark living room to see the silhouette of a man in her kitchen.
Separated by only a kitchen counter, Mize warned the intruder she was armed.
"He just kept coming," Mize said. "I didn't hesitate to shoot."
Mize has lived in her home for 45 years.
"It's a shame," Mize said. "Spokane used to be such an overgrown farm town. And I loved that. And it's not that anymore."
Her bullet hit the wood above the busted door frame.
"I'm glad I didn't hit him," she said.