Elderly homeowner shoots alleged robber

January 4, 2010 8:50:07 PM PST
A homeowner and former police officer fought back after he caught a teenager in his home in east Harris County. The man grabbed his shotgun and put the teen in a hospital. A husband and wife call what happened unfortunate, but said they did what they had to do.

These days Robert Cole is never far from a gun and for good reason. Twice before, he and his wife were almost robbed. Then his glock came to the rescue.

"Put it between his eyes and said, 'Is this the wallet you're looking for?'" said Robert.

However, it was his shotgun that helped protect them Sunday night.

"I didn't have time to get it up on my shoulder, so I just shot from the hip," Robert said.

The couple was awakened by a man breaking into their front window.

"I said, 'Get up.' And she said, 'Get your shotgun,'" said Robert.

By the time they made it out of their bedroom and down the hall, the teenager was already inside and armed himself.

"He was standing right there with a fire extinguisher," Robert said.

So Robert pulled the trigger.

"I was scared he was either going to hurt me or my wife or kill us. I had no other option. It was either him or me," he said.

The man screamed and took off down the street where he collapsed. Mark Galvan, 17, was arrested and then taken to the hospital. It's likely he didn't know who he was messing with.

"I was a captain in the Warren County Sheriff's Office in Lebanon, Ohio," said Robert.

Or that the retired couple have taught firearms training.

"Come on to the gray-haired people," said his wife, Pam Cole.

Now they have 20 little buckshot holes in their walls as a reminder.

"I damn near got Jesus," said Robert.

They also have no regrets.

"Now civilians have to take care of themselves," Robert said.

Pam added, "I'm saying don't mess with us. Or you're going to have a bad result."

Mark Galvan spent part of Monday at Ben Taub Hospital before he was taken to the Harris County Jail. He was already on probation for aggravated assault, now he is charged with burglary and nursing a wound.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office took the Cole's shotgun as part of their investigation, but the law seems pretty clear that they were within their rights.

You can read more in The North Channel Sentinel, one of our Houston Community Newspaper partners.