Hero or coward?

Scenic Hawaii.

Sometimes, I wonder why a news story captures my imagination and I just can’t get it out of my head.  One might think that a report about complete strangers wouldn’t make a dent in my consciousness.  But, there is one story that I’ll never forget, though I’ve long forgotten the names of the people involved.

A newlywed couple, both lawyers, was working at the same firm in California.  An angry and disturbed client entered and began his murderous rampage, shooting indiscriminately.  The husband raced into his wife’s office, grabbed her hand, and yelled, “Hurry, let’s go!”

He took her to a storage room where they cowered together.  The madman burst in and pointed his gun at them.  The husband immediately covered his wife’s body with his own, absorbing the bullets.  Satisfied that he’d killed them both, the shooter left to invade other offices before finally turning the gun on himself.  In the aftermath, the husband rolled over and gazed at his wife, whose only injury was a shattered left hand.

“I love you so much, honey,” he whispered.  Then, he closed his eyes and died.

I showed the article to David and asked, “Would you do the same for me?”

“Oh, no,” he chortled.  “I probably would be the first one down the fire escape!”

Hero or coward?

19 Responses to “Hero or coward?”

  1. R.J. Says:

    I always hesitate to get involved in a discussion of a “lifeboat dilemma”, especially among husbands and wives. CSI had an episode recently where bullets went through one person and killed a person behind so that is a real possibility. Also, I would question the story at the point where a person riddled with bullets rolls over and chats with the person who was saved. The whole story is suspect. I like that your hubby treated the story with humor, because it doesn’t sound like a real scenario but intended as a provocative ethical question.

    • gigihawaii Says:

      Unfortunately, this actually happened. It happened about five years ago in a law firm in California. The widow has since remarried and is now living in Hawaii.

  2. Linda Reeder Says:

    Neither hero nor coward. Just smart, and alive! 🙂

  3. DJan Says:

    Who knows what any of us would REALLY do in such a situation? The guy was indeed a hero, but he’s dead. I would much rather have my husband alive! 🙂

  4. SchmidleysScribbling Says:

    What a terrible wonderful story. Maybe its better that we don’t know the answer to how hubby would act. These days, David is so slow, I would have to be the hero or coward.

    PS I wonder why the bullets did not pass through his body into hers? Dianne

  5. Christine Says:

    oh Gigi, horrible story! But you and David made me laugh.

  6. R.Ramakrishnan Says:

    I am sure David wouldn’t do what he stated he would do. When emergencies happen heroism emerges from the strangest and unexpected quarters. So do not believe David about being the first to escape. He may actually turn out to quite be a Super Hero !

  7. musings Says:

    Art and I have talked about these sort of scenarios and we agree we don’t know what we’d do in that situation. We like to think we’d do the honorable thing, but…

  8. anonymous Says:

    I remember the story too.

    One day I tripped on our cement patio floor while carrying our grandson and I couldn’t believe I went down hitting my elbows on the floor but managed to lift our grandson “up” in the fall. I think your body works instinctively sometimes. I know I didn’t have time to think what to do. Maybe the story wasn’t about being a hero or coward. If given enough time for my brain to work, I wonder if I would have chosen to fall hard on my elbow?

    L. from W.

    • Henry Hank Chapin Says:

      Anon, I was a 13-year-old weighing over 100 pounds. One day I started choking on a bone and my mother swiftly picked me by the ankles and shook the offending object out of my throat. No way she could have done that under ordinary circumstances. This was before anybody had heard of Heimlich’s maneuver.

      • anonymous Says:

        Imagine…the power of training the mind to get out of the way…like in martial arts?

        L. from W.

  9. naquillity (@naquillity) Says:

    i was attacked back in ’99 by a homeless man and i can say for certain my husband saved me then and would do so now. i would gladly do the same for him too. i’d hate to think what could have happened had my husband not been close by that day because my attacker had attacked another woman in front of her child and rendered her unconscious two weeks prior to my attack. you just never know what you’ll do until you’re faced with it. i think David would do more than he lets on. hope all is well. have a great day~

  10. Henry Hank Chapin Says:

    He was just pulling your leg. Relax, because he would climb the deepest river and swim the highest mountain for you. 🙂

  11. Rambling Woods Says:

    Of course he would protect you..my husband would give a smart-ass response too…

  12. Mage Bailey Says:

    Congraulations on your 32 years. Bravo. Yes, he is a hero and is certainly yours. 🙂

  13. Linda Starr Says:

    yeah I think he would protect you too, and my husband would give a smart ass response as well. I think if I was faced with a gunman, I’d like on the floor and play dead, hoping he wouldn’t shoot me or rush him and try to get the gun away from him.

  14. Tilly Bud - The Laughing Housewife Says:


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