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Armed Citizen Stops Kidnapping at Walmart

November 24, 2022

We know that honest citizens defend themselves with firearms thousands of times a day. Sometimes these defenders also save strangers. What is more unusual is when these heroic events are reported in the news. Here is how Kelcey Willis saved a five-year-old boy last week in Warner Robins, Georgia.

Kelcey Willis

History of the event-

What do you do on the weekend? Kelcey Willis, the defender in this tale, was taking his car to Walmart to change the oil that Sunday. It was about 2 pm when Willis and a friend talked to the technician at the auto center. They were distracted by a child’s scream coming from the parking lot. They turned and saw an older man forcefully taking a child from a car and pulling him across the parking lot.

At first, the defender thought this was a kidnapping, but then he wondered if the adult was taking the child into the privacy of the trees so the child could go to the bathroom. The child kept yelling in fear. That didn’t make sense if they only needed privacy to go to the bathroom.

The defender again heard the child yell, “Don’t beat me!” That moved him to follow the boy and the man. The defender later said he got his gun, and it isn’t clear if that means he got it from his holster or truck. The armed defender and his friend ran to follow the older man and the young boy so they wouldn’t lose sight of them. At first, they followed the child’s screams.

When the two men caught up to them, they found the older man holding the young boy on the ground with the older man’s hands around the boy’s neck. The armed defender, Kelcey Willis, ordered the attacker to stop. They pulled the young boy to safety. Other people arrived. They comforted the boy and helped hold the attacker.

The news stories are not clear about who called 911 to ask for help. It also isn’t clear how long it took for the police to arrive. The police said that the attacker was being held at gunpoint by Willis when they arrived. The boy said his attacker was going to “beat him and leave him for the animals.” The armed defender was worried that if he’d waited any longer, the attacker would have “choked the child cold,” and “the kid would probably be dead.”

The attacker, 67-year-old Haimnarine Doobay, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and cruelty toward a child. Early news reports called this a kidnapping. The child was identified as being five years old and was taken to the county juvenile department for care. Later, the attacker was identified as being related to the child. Reports that I’ve been able to find did not explain how the child and his attacker were related or if the attacker had permission to take the child. We don’t even know if the child arrived at the parking lot in a car driven by the attacker.

Reactions and comments-

One perspective is that there isn’t much we can learn from this story since our relatives don’t drag five-year-old children into the woods to strangle them. Not having murderous relatives is a good thing, but this is also an everyman story. The defender said he tried making excuses so that an adult dragging a screaming child wouldn’t seem unusual. The defender first thought, ‘Maybe he was talking the kid into the woods so the child could go to the bathroom.’ We first try to see unusual events as the things we see daily. The fact that the child’s screams continued and got louder broke the fantasy that this was a common and safe situation.

Another important point is that other witnesses didn’t react until after Mr. Willis made the first move. If a dozen people had immediately moved to save the child, the firearm might not have been necessary. The defender likely pursued the attacker precisely because the defender was armed. Having a gun meant that the defender could both protect himself and he could stop the threat if that proved necessary.

Mr. Willis was a grown man. A 115-pound woman would also have been able to stop the attack if she was armed and had a plan. The child faced death or great bodily injury. The child did not threaten the attacker or initiate the attack. Recognizing that the child was an innocent victim in immediate danger seems obvious in this case. It could be less obvious or impossible in the case of two adults who were fighting with each other.

The defender had a gun in his hand, yet he didn’t press the trigger. The victim was seconds from unconsciousness, yet the defender didn’t shoot. The defender used words and the threat of force. That worked in this case. The threat of lethal force, in combination with grabbing the child and pulling him to safety, was enough to save the child. Force was justified, but perhaps it wasn’t necessary.

Force comes in degrees, and how much to use is often a matter of judgment.

We can make mistakes by using too much too soon.. or using too little too late.

It might be that the defender was brave enough to chase a stranger into the woods, but not brave enough to shoot him. Perhaps there is more to this situation than bravery. Perhaps the defender’s actions were guided by prudence. I wonder how easy it would be to shoot someone who is on top of a child without also endangering the child with my shot. As I said, words worked this time so the defender made a good choice. He saved the child without putting the youngster at risk of being injured by gunfire.

There are a few more ordinary lessons in this extraordinary story. Other people followed once Mr. Willis started the pursuit. Other witnesses heard the child’s screams but they didn’t know exactly where the victim was or what to do. Mr. Willis’s actions provided a model for others to follow.

Having a group of people to help you could be an advantage if you know how to use them. Someone can take care of the child. Someone can call 911 and stay on the call with the dispatcher. Someone can hold the attacker. Someone can meet the police and guide them to the scene. That messenger can let the police know there is an armed defender and what the defender looks like. That is a lot to do while you have a firearm in your hand.

Knowing what to do could make you indispensable even if you never drew your gun.

The state of Georgia is now a constitutional carry state. The defender didn’t need a state permit to carry a personal weapon on his body. Whether he had a carry permit or not, I bet the defender wishes he had more training so he knew what to do and could have reacted faster. Everyman would.

Parts of this article were originally posted at Please leave a comment here. RM

Original news sources- 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2022 10:28 am

    Reblogged this on Howie's Blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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