Nov. 11, 2005 — -- A 66-year-old grandmother is giving new meaning to the saying, "Don't Mess With Texas." Susan Gaylord Buxton of Arlington, Texas, shot an intruder who broke into her home using the .38-caliber handgun she keeps by her bedside. The intruder, Christopher Lessner, 22, suffered a leg wound and is now in jail.
"I was scared, I was terrified and I was really, really angry that he was in my house," Buxton said. "He could have harmed me or my granddaughter."
Buxton, a cartoonist and an artist, had already gone to bed for the night. But at 12:45 a.m. on Wednesday, she got up to let one of her puppies outside. She took her gun with her in case a coyote tried to attack her dog in the yard.
On her way downstairs, Buxton noticed that her granddaughter, Mandy Davis, was awake because she had heard a noise like breaking glass. Buxton walked out on her back porch and let her dog out, who began sniffing two big muddy footprints on the porch -- a red flag, since they hadn't any rain in about six weeks.
Then Buxton and Davis noticed other odd things: the door to a backroom was ajar allowing the family cats to escape and other items in the room were in disarray. They discussed calling the police, but instead decided to methodically check the house on their own -- with a spotlight and her gun in hand.
After checking the entire house, they realized the only place they hadn't checked was the coat closet -- and there was Lessner.
"This big, 6-foot-1, really big, buff man jumped out," Buxton said.
As Buxton dealt with the intruder, Davis called 911 to get help.
Lessner was on the run from police who were trying to ticket him for speeding in a stolen car earlier that night.
Buxton ordered Lessner to "get down" but he refused. She fired one warning shot into the air and then she shot him in the leg. But Lessner still managed to run out the front door.
Police apprehended him near Buxton's home.
"They found him bleeding and cowering on a neighbor's balcony," Buxton said.
Buxton has owned a handgun for 12 years, but this was her first time shooting anybody, she said. Buxton bought the gun 12 years ago after she says someone tried to kidnap one of her grandchildren while she was baby-sitting.
She has taken a shooting course where she was trained to aim for the torso, but she said she aimed for the leg instead.
"I didn't want to kill him," Buxton said.
The police took Buxton's gun as part of the investigation. In the meantime, she's carrying her other gun, a 9-millimeter semi-automatic. Buxton has a permit to carry a handgun and will not be charged with a crime because she was defending herself.
Lessner is facing charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, evading arrest, criminal mischief and criminal trespass. Now that he's out of the hospital, he's sitting in jail.
"I'm glad he's in jail," Buxton said. "That's where he belongs."