Widowed grandmother detains intruder at gunpoint


SPOKANE — A widowed grandmother who was awoken by someone kicking in her back door held the intruder at gunpoint until police arrived at her North Spokane home early Wednesday morning.

Spokane Police Lt. Dean Sprague said the 63-year-old woman fired one shot at the man when she found him in her home around 12:20 a.m. but he was not injured.

“I just woke up with the crash and grabbed my gun and got out of bed and said ‘I’m armed’ and he kept coming at me,” homeowner Sandra Mize said. “I shot off one round and he kept coming, so I started backing up.”

The man “flopped” on her sofa, she said, and she was able to get to a phone to call for help. Police arrived shortly after and took Sean Denny, 35, into custody on burglary charges.

Police believe the break-in was not Denny’s first of the night.

Sprague said police received a call just after midnight that someone had broken into a business in the 2700 block of North Pittsburg Street. He said the caller, a resident who lives near the business, told dispatchers her boyfriend chased a shirtless suspect north on Pittsburg.

Police found the Centaur Group, an advertising firm at 2703 N. Pittsburg St., had been burglarized.

At 12:19, Sprague said, police received a call from a woman in the 2000 block of East Dalton Avenue, about four blocks away, saying a man had broken into her house and she had him at gunpoint.

When police arrived at her house, Sprague said, Denny tried to flee but upon seeing officers, went back into the home.

It was then officers entered the home, he said, fearing for the woman’s safety.

Sprague said Denny resisted, fighting with officers on the floor, and the K9 unit was used to help subdue him. Denny received a minor injury from the dog.

The woman in the house was uninjured, Sprague said, and the only damage to her property was her splintered back door and the hole in the wall from her fired round.

He said she was in bed when she heard the break-in and grabbed a handgun that she has for personal safety.

According to a police release, the gun was a revolver she keeps right next to her bed.

She told police she encountered Denny in her kitchen, “just feet away” and moving toward her. She fired one shot but missed him, and Denny “ran to a couch and sat down,” where she detained him until police arrived.

There is no indication Denny had a weapon, Sprague said, but given that he had broken into her home, he was “obviously threatening.”

“In this case, this guy was at least half her age and twice her size,” he said.

The police statement said the door Denny kicked through was dead bolted and reinforced with a metal pole door jamb.

“The homeowner was in reasonable fear for her life, fired her gun to protect herself, and clearly was within her legal right to do so,” the release said.