A Marine Corps veteran is telling FOX10 News how he got out of a violent burglary alive.
It's a follow up to a story we brought you as breaking news Thursday night, when a homeowner shot three suspected burglars in Theodore after they shot him first.
The homeowner is 62-year-old Michael Irving. FOX10 News Reporter Devan Coffaro sat down with him once he got home from the hospital Friday afternoon.
“I didn’t even know them,” said Irving. “Why me? Why shoot me?”
Irving was still in disbelief as he walked into his home -- blood still covered the ground, and there was a bullet hole in both his door and his arm.
For him, the last 24-hours have been almost unreal, and it all started with a tap on his door.
"I walked right here to open the door, and that's when he shot me right there. They cut loose on me, and that's when I went to the cabinet here and back behind the coffee was an old time pistol,” said Irving. “I opened the door and smoked 'em."
Mobile County Sheriff's deputies say on the other side of that door armed with a shotgun and a handgun were Chasatie Dulabhan, Casey Ray Gann, and Joseph Heathcock. Investigators say it was an attempted robbery, and clearly they chose the wrong house. Irving managed to shoot and injure all three of them.
"I tried not to shoot any of them in the chest. I didn't want to have to kill 'em."
Two of the suspects fled and left one woman behind, but they didn't make it very far. They eventually had to stop at a Dollar General two miles away and wait for help. All three suspects were first taken to the hospital for their injuries and then arrested.
As for Irving, he's being hailed as a local hero for defending himself. He was outnumbered, outgunned, and has been battling colon cancer for the past two years. He says you never mess with a former marine.
"I learned that in the Marine Corps – ‘react and do’ before you get scared,” said Irving.
He was robbed a few weeks ago, targeted for his cancer medication. Deputies believe that robbery was committed by at least one of the same three suspects.
After that incident, Irving installed new Plexiglass on his door -- something he believes helped save his life.
"Where the bullet hole is, you can see how thick that glass is and that's what saved me, because it slowed down the buckshot enough."
Irving says someone up above must have been watching over him.
"If I hadn't of moved just a little bit, it would have hit me in the chest and sternum and caught me in the heart."
All three robbery suspects are in Metro Jail.
So far, only Heathcock and Gann have been in court and a judge denied bond for both of them. Heathcock is charged with robbery, assault 2nd, and shooting into an occupied building. Gann is charged with robbery. Dulabhan is charged with burglary, robbery, assault 2nd, and shooting into an occupied building.
Deputies say they are still looking for a fourth male suspect who may have been the getaway driver.
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