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81-year-old foils 2 burglars with derringer
ANCHORAGE: D-Day veteran warns, 'Don't pick on old men . . . or some old men.'


By Zaz Hollander
Anchorage Daily News

(Published: August 11, 2002)

http://www.adn.com/front/story/1578451p-1695064c.html

Click on photo to enlarge
Burglars tangled with the wrong 81-year-old Saturday morning.

Roy Lee Hendricks, who lives on East 67th Avenue off Lake Otis Parkway, fought off two men who broke in and demanded his wallet. Hendricks shot one man in the arm with a two-shot, .22-caliber derringer, accidentally blowing off the tip of his own pinkie.

Then he and a friend held the wounded man at gunpoint inside the house until police arrived. The other man escaped through a window.

Nearly 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, Hendricks later said: "I'd rather be a dead hero than a live coward."

During World War II, Hendricks parachuted into the fray at Normandy on D-Day with the 82nd Airborne Division. Later he fished for crab in the Bering Sea and longshored some. He lost the top of his thumb in a sawmill accident in the 1950s.

"I never ran in my life, and I don't intend to now," Hendricks said in an interview Saturday afternoon.

Anchorage police Saturday morning arrested the man detained by the two men, 19-year-old Gabrielle A. Anderson. The identity of the other man was not available. Hendricks said he didn't know either of them.

The men broke in by pushing open a downstairs window in an extra bedroom. Hendricks woke up to see two people in dark hooded shirts standing at his bedside, upstairs. They wanted his billfold.

He tried to jump up, and they pushed him down. He told them he was trying to get to his wallet, and they let him up.

He grabbed the derringer from the top of his dresser.

"I really wanted to get ahold of my .44, but I couldn't reach it. The guy was hanging onto me," Hendricks said.

The men began hitting and shoving him, he said. Hendricks at first tried to hit Anderson with the tiny pistol, but "it was like hitting somebody with a cream puff." He was afraid the men would grab the weapon.

Hendricks said he waited until he could shoot without killing his assailant, then fired. The bullet grazed the man's arm, police said. The shot also took off the tip of Hendricks' left pinkie, shattering the first joint.

"They were burning the turf to get outta here once I started shooting," Hendricks said.

The shot and the scuffle woke 57-year-old Joe Gallagher, an old friend of Hendricks' sleeping in the back bedroom downstairs.

Gallagher pulled out his own gun, a .22-caliber long-barrel six-shooter, and froze the wounded burglar at gunpoint. The other man pushed open a downstairs window and dived out.

At that point, the two men realized that the burglars had cut the phone lines, Hendricks said. They called police on Gallagher's cell phone.

The men kept Anderson lying on his belly on the floor until police arrived, Hendricks said. That's when they realized he had a knife.

Medics treated Hendricks at the scene, but he elected to drive himself to Alaska Regional Hospital.

His wife, Ann Hendricks, wasn't home during the robbery because she was visiting a niece in town overnight. Roy called Ann about 6 a.m. Saturday, and she drove to the hospital with two of their granddaughters.

Ann, who met Roy in her hometown of Kodiak when he fished there in the 1960s, was shocked by the incident but wasn't surprised by the result.

"That's my husband," she said. Asked whether Roy's finger was starting to hurt, she said no. "He doesn't complain."

Saturday afternoon, Hendricks hadn't slept yet. Blood spattered his jeans and two white throw rugs at the top of the stairs. His finger was heavily bandaged, and he had a purplish abrasion on his cheek, a scratched cornea from a poke in the eye during the fight, and other cuts and scrapes on his face.

He said the incident didn't scare him as much as some of the bayonet attacks and bullets he dodged during the war.

Police charged Anderson with first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, fourth-degree assault, third-degree criminal mischief and fourth-degree assault.

After being treated for a wound to his arm at Alaska Native Medical Center, he was taken to Anchorage Jail in lieu of $16,500 bail, police said. Police are seeking the other burglar.

Hendricks listed the contents of his wallet as a bunch of cards and a little more than $100.

Is there a lesson here?

"Don't pick on old men . . . or some old men," Hendricks said.
 

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Nice Job Mr. Hendricks!

Lets here it for the 82nd. Just think, that elderly man fought for the freedom to allow that kid (the burglar) to pick and choose a productive life. More than likely he was the same age as the burglar at that time in 1944. Oh well, maybe he'll think about that in his jail cell. Any bets? Sure! I hope Mr. Hendricks keeps his 44 closer to him in the future.
 

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I am simply amazed at the brazen attitude of some of these punks. You would think that in a state where there is a big dog in every truck and a bigger handgun under the seat that they would be a bit more cautious.

Some of these kids have the survival skills of a pet store turtle.

It sounds like Mr. Hendricks took extra care to wait for a shot that would be non-fatal. He has more patience than I would have had in the same situation!

I hope the kid has a looooonnnnnng time to think about the wisdom of a life of crime while the state pays his way.

Scotty
 
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