It’s a moment Donna Hopper will always remember but wishes she could forget.
“He was just beating on the window,” she said.
Eight years ago, Hopper shot and killed a man who was breaking into her home.
Today, bullet holes still remain, serving as constant reminders of that night.
“I don’t know why I haven’t taken them down,” she said. “I just turned my head and kind of shot in the air.”
Hopper still keeps the .38 special handgun that she bought after her husband died, loaded and next to her bed.
“It’s scary kind of looking at it because I’ve forgotten where the safety is,” she said. “I mean, I would have to look at it, and I don’t want to touch it.”
Hopper, however, says she’s ready to pull the trigger again if need be because she believes that’s what saved her life that night.
“If I had not had the gun ... in fact, when the police were here that night I told them, ‘I’m so sorry, I should have just had a baseball bat and whacked him on the head,' " Hopper said. "And they told me, 'He would have killed you before you got the first strike out. ' ”
Across the country and in her hometown of Redding, California, Hopper was hailed as a hero for protecting her home and herself.
“A gun in the hand of the right person at the right time at the right moment can save lives,” said Redding Police Captain Jon Poletski. “But guns can also be dangerous if they’re put into the hands of the wrong person at the wrong time in the wrong situation.”
Poletski worked Hopper’s case back in 2011.
He believes Hopper protected herself with a gun that night but says having a gun doesn’t guarantee somebody’s safety. Sometimes, it could be turned against them.
“If you’re going to have a gun or you’re going to carry a gun, you obviously need to have the proper training,” Poletski said. “Just having a gun doesn’t make you safe.”
Hopper, however, says having a gun saved her life. She added it gives her a better sense of security and that she knows how to use it.
“My dad was a policeman all his life so he told me, ‘if you’re going to shoot a handgun, use two hands and wherever your fingers are pointing that’s where the gun will go,’ ” she said.
Hopper added that she supports the right to bear arms — to an extent.
“I’m keeping my gun and anybody else that needs theirs,” she said. “What I don’t believe in is people that have automatic weapons.”
For now, Hopper says she’ll keep her revolver at her side.