CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Sarah Nahmens points out the bullet hole left in her door after she shot at two intruders. Nahmens said her mother, whom she lives with, said even when they replace the broken door, they will cut out the piece with the bullet hole in it as a keepsake.
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
She picked up her .32 revolver and pointed it at the door, waiting for two men on the other side to burst through.
It was the first time in her life this Clovis woman ever shot a gun.
Only a few moments earlier, she had ignored a knock on her door from a young boy about 12 years old. But later, a shadow moving past her back window caused a gut feeling and not a good one.
She grabbed her gun from the bedroom.
She listened to the banging noises echoing through her home as they kicked at the door. Backing into the kitchen with the revolver in her hands, she promised herself she would shoot if the door flew open.
“It kind of kicked in and I thought, ‘OK, I’ve got to make sure that I’m safe… It was either going to be me or them and it couldn’t be me,’” Sarah Nahmens recalled.
As the door gave and two men emerged, she pulled the trigger.
Surprised at the loud crack as the gun fired, she braced and shot again as the suspects turned and fled.
“I fired one round, then I shot out through the west door just to make sure they didn’t come back,” Nahmens said.
Police said on Jan. 30 Nahmen shot at two intruders in her home on Comer Drive.
One bullet was recovered from a basket inside the garage and the second was never found.
Police Capt. Patrick Whitney said investigators do not believe either man was wounded because they didn’t find any traces of blood or tissue.
No reports of gunshot victims fitting the profile have surfaced from regional medical facilities since the shooting, he said.
Police have interviewed a person of interest that was involved in other burglaries, he said.
Since there’s no evidence anyone was shot, Nahmens won’t face any legal consequences and she said police who responded to her 911 call reassured her she did everything right.
Had Nahmens hit her target, the case would have been presented to a grand jury to determine if it was justified, Whitney said.
But, Whitney added, residents have every right to defend themselves, especially when they perceive a threat to their safety.
“There is statute that gives people the right to use force, including deadly force, to protect themselves, particularly in their home,” he said.
“I commend her for protecting herself.”
She admits she was shaken after the incident. But Nahmens recalls the break-in and shooting with a calm and collected perspective.
She shares the home with her mother. They had talked many times about safety and protecting themselves. And they keep a gun for just that reason.
When she found herself actually faced with the question of whether or not to shoot, she didn’t hesitate.
“We’ve always talked about defending yourself and how important that is,” she said.
Nahmens said when she picked up the gun and made the decision to shoot, she wasn’t thinking about the possible consequences. But she has thought about it since.
“If I had (killed someone) it would have been a lot harder for me to deal with definitely, but at the moment I wasn’t really thinking about potentially killing someone,” she said. “In a situation like that, you just have mere seconds to think.”
She has no regrets.
And actually, she said, some good has come from it, beyond the fact she protected herself that frightening afternoon.
The incident has inspired dialogues with neighbors who are now on alert for suspicious activity in their historically quiet neighborhood.
She’s also had many conversations with friends and female coworkers about self-defense.
“I think the most import thing is everybody is very aware now. I work around a lot of women and it’s important that women know, especially single women, that when you live out there alone, you can defend yourself,” she said.
She has even talked to friends about making a girls day out at the shooting range to practice and learn more about firearms.
Whitney said if a citizen chooses to keep a firearm for personal defense, it is imperative that they familiarize themselves with the weapon. He said they should have some type of firearms training.
“They need to know how to use it, how it functions, what to do if it malfunctions, how to take it off safety,” are just some of the basics, Whitney said.
And there are some iron clad rules to remember.
“You need to know not only what your target is but what’s behind your target… You don’t pull a gun unless you intend to use a gun,” Whitney said, adding, “(you) own every bullet that comes out the end of that barrel and are responsible for where it goes and what it does.”