When a 21-year-old thief walked into her store and said he wanted her car, the 71-year-old store owner replied, “So do I.”
Janet Willis, owner of Buckhead Grocery, hit the panic button under the counter, but this only caused the crook to become more forceful and demanding.
“He said ‘I have killed my mother, then he mumbled something and said he had stolen a van and he was going to kill me if I didn’t give him the keys.” Willis said the man followed her while she went to retrieve the car keys.
According to morgancountycitizen.com, when a customer who was in the store came out of the bathroom the would-be-robber turned his head and that’s when 5’1 Willis grabbed a 9mm handgun she keeps in the store for self-defense.
“When he turned around I said ‘I’ll blow your guts all over this store.’” “Then I led him out.” Willis said she kept the gun pointed at Dennis as he rushed out of the store. He then, reports state, got into a 2008 Chevrolet Uplander with a flat rear tire and left, driving on Parks Mill Road until sparks from the vehicle’s rim caught the Uplander on fire. The Uplander had been reported stolen out of Columbia County, reports state. Dennis then went to a residence on Parks Mill Road, knocked on the door and asked for help.
Law enforcement lauded Willis for her brave actions. This was another case where a gun changed the outcome and not a single shot was fired in order to do so.
Captain Chris Bish, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, praised Willis for protecting herself. “I admire her for doing what she did to thwart the robbery,” he said. “I’m grateful for the outcome.” “Fortunately in this case he was not armed and her response forced him to flee. Dennis remains incarcerated and has been charged with armed robbery. Willis said this was not the first time she has had to confront violence. More than 30 years ago when she was working in a grocery store in Covington a man became belligerent and threatened her. Willis said she learned from that experience. “You have to stay calm. If you stay calm, they stay calm. If you get upset, they get upset.” The man in Covington forced her against a cash register, she said. In that case Willis said she pulled out a Colt. .45 caliber pistol and pointed it at the aggressor. “I asked him, do you want this (the pistol) or do you want the door. He chose the door,” she said.