MURFREESBORO, Tennn. - A 67-year-old woman was arrested for pulling a gun in a Walmart parking lot after she was approached by a stranger in what she called self defense.
The woman said she feared for her life and pulled out a gun, but she was the one facing serious criminal charges.
It has become a controversial case raising questions about how far you can go if you think you are in mortal danger.
"It scared me absolutely to death," said Sherry McLain. She was loading groceries into her car this past Saturday in the crowded Walmart parking lot on Old Fort Parkway in Murfreesboro.
That's when a strange man approached, surprising her, and she pulled her revolver. "I have never been so afraid of anything in my whole life I don't think," said McLain. "This guy is the bad guy and I'm the one in handcuffs walking away."
Murfreesboro police said there's much more to the story. "There was no reason for her to perceive any legitimate threat," said Sergeant Kyle Evans.
Officers at the scene talked with McLain and the man who approached her. It turned out that he had just bought cigarettes and asked her for a light.
Witnesses confirmed this and security video showed the man, who we could not reach for comment, never got closer than 10 feet to McLane.
When she pulled the gun, he ran back into the store to call 911.
"Certainly pulling a gun on someone who just asks a question has no weapon is not appropriate," said Evans.
Others witnesses agreed. "Clearly this is a gunowner who doesn't need to own a gun," said Keeley Benoit.
Her 7-year-old son and his grandmother found themselves in McLain's cross hairs as the man ran past them at the Walmart.
"When she looked up the gun was being pointed at the three of them and the lady says I'm going to shoot you. I'm going to kill you," said Benoit.
Clearly something spooked McLain. For whatever reason she felt the stranger was a threat, and she couldn't believe she was arrested for self-defense.
"What are we supposed to do if we can't protect ourselves. I'm 67 years old," said McLain. She insisted she feared for her life.
A judge will decide if the situation fully justified her actions. McLain was charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. She was properly permitted for the weapon.