Earlier this month, a 23-year old Arizona woman shot the man who attempted to rob her at gunpoint. She was leaving a Circle K store at 1:00 AM. Her assailant died as a result of his wound later that night.
Carolann Miracle was legally carrying, openly and on her hip. Frank Taylor, 27, approached her outside the store, requesting a cigarette and a light. But then he made a move that proved his question wasn’t so innocent—he pointed a handgun at her throat. Miracle drew and fired into Taylor’s abdomen, ending the attack.
Miracle called 911 after running to her home less than a block away—another good move to get out of the area, considering that predators often hunt together. She was taken to the police station and questioned, but not arrested. Whether her gun was taken from her as part of the investigation is unknown.
It’s clear from public statements that she’s confident her action was the right one. “I feel bad, but I had to protect me and my family. It was my life or his. I didn’t want to hurt him, but he shouldn’t have been out robbing people at one in the morning.”
Far be it from me to speculate why Taylor decided to approach an open carrier with a plan to pull a gun of his own. The store has security cameras and there were bystanders who witnessed some of the incident. All of these appear to support Miracle’s testimony.
Disparity of force doesn’t appear to be a plea Miracle has made on her own behalf. However, coverage of the shooting has repeated the point that she’s just 4 feet, 11 inches tall. That too, is a valid consideration … in a physical confrontation, size matters.
Other public statements made by Miracle provide personal, yet universally practical, insights to the mindset Miracle employed before and after the incident. We can learn a lot from her.
First, she didn’t freeze—at least not for long. “I was terrified, but then just shot him,” she said. The freeze response is common, especially among people who walk around assuming the world is a safe place … and usually, it is. Being open to and prepared for the exception will help you not be paralyzed in fear, or to kick yourself out of that state in time to act. Quick, decisive action is your friend when deadly force is justified.
Second, she has her priorities straight—“it was either his life or mine.” Later in that interview, she also said, “I'm thanking God I'm still here for my daughter. I just feel bad that I took him away from his baby.”
As some defensive living expert friends like to say, we must protect our own tribe first before caring about those outside of it. They’re quick to point out instances, like the recent outpouring of compassion for a little boy injured by civil war in Syria, while deaths of children in crime-infested neighborhoods here in the US don’t even make national news. This isn’t meant to be a political example, but personal encouragement that you examine and identify your “tribe” and whom you’re willing to listen to, defend, and perhaps die protecting. There is nothing wrong with compassion for others, so long as we recognize and correct the course when it’s given at the expense of people in circles closer to our own. Don’t let your compassion be bigger than your will to protect yourself and those you love.
Third, by her public statements, we can see she’s acknowledging the difficult emotions yet standing behind her own actions. Emotions like shock, self-doubt, and regret are perfectly normal after a shooting. Even celebration may show up. Acknowledge these as normal, but do not let them take control of your well-being.
Some defensive gun use stories here at GunCarrier have expounded on not putting oneself in places where crime is likely—convenience stores after dark are a perfect example. One online account of this shooting has drawn a comment claiming Miracle and Taylor knew each other. If that’s the case, Miracle’s stated boundaries for her emotional response are even more impressive.
Fourth, know thine enemy. Previous paragraph considered, it’s not necessarily a literal recommendation, though that’s not to be ruled out. Miracle’s life hasn’t been entirely smooth. She’s been arrested in her relatively short time as an adult. I’ve not been able to locate the charges, but I’ll venture a guess that street smarts worked in her favor at the Circle K. Some take a dim view of that kind of worldly knowledge. Adults who take responsibility for their own safety will observe and develop some understanding of predatory behavior, at least as it relates to their daily lives.
This young woman has shown us that an effective and lawful defensive shooting, while unlikely to be necessary, is possible even for a person with minimal formal training. She admitted that this was only her third time firing a gun, the first two being at the range with her Marine father, who provided her with the gun she wore on her hip.
It’s not a “miracle” after all, but a combination of preparedness combined with willingness to act on short notice, as well as to face but not be controlled by conflicting emotions after the action. Well done, ma’am.