Aiken, SC – An 82-year-old Vietnam War veteran beat a home intruder to death after the suspect forced his way into the elderly man’s house and attacked his wife with a butcher knife.
The incident occurred at a residence on Dicks Street on Feb. 15, WRDW reported.
The couple, 82-year-old Herbert Parrish and 79-year-old Lois Parrish, were inside their home when they heard someone knocking at the back door at approximately 2 p.m., WTXF reported.
“I opened the door and he said he was looking for his little white chihuahua and wanted to know if I saw it,” Lois told the news outlet. “I told him no, I hadn’t.”
Thinking the conversation was over, Lois began to close the door.
That’s when the suspect, later identified as 61-year-old Harold Runnels, charged inside the home armed with a large butcher knife, WTXF reported.
Police said Runnels used the handle of the knife to strike the elderly couple, causing Lois to injure her index finger as she fell to the ground, according to WRDW.
The suspect then attacked her with the pointed end of the blade, lacerating her face, according to police.
“I felt, we’re gone. He’s going to kill us and take what he can take,” Herbert later told WTXF. “He was not going to go out that door and leave us alive. That’s the way I felt.”
The quick-thinking Vietnam veteran knew he needed to act fast if he was going to save himself and his wife.
“I said, ‘I’ve got to do something quick and get the edge on him, get the advantage on him,’” Herbert recalled.
The elderly man grabbed a shotgun he kept hanging on a wall near the door and used it to pummel Runnels until he fell unconscious, WTXF reported.
“I started hitting him in the head with the barrel and I know I must have hit him at least 10 times right in the face, just as hard as I could hit him,” Herbert told the news outlet.
Aiken County deputies found the bloodied suspect lying on the floor of the couple’s home, WRDW reported.
He was transported to Augusta University Medical Center, where he died at 10:51 p.m., Aiken County Coroner Darryl Ables told WRDW.
Herbert and Lois were also transported to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.
They are both expected to make a full recovery, WTXF reported.
Herbert said he believes Runnels wanted to steal money from them.
The elderly couple said they had seen him walking around the neighborhood in the past and believed he lived in a nearby mobile home, WTXF reported.
A neighbor told the news outlet she spotted Runnels wandering around the neighborhood looking suspicious a few months back and called the police.