In the early morning hours of September 8, Malachi Heisler shot and killed a masked gunman allegedly holding his mom at gunpoint in her own house. The masked gunman turned out to be Heisler’s own father—a man against whom his mother had a restraining order.
The incident occurred just after midnight in Pinellas County, Florida.
According to ABC Action News, Heisler was awakened by the sounds of his mother yelling, “Malachi” and “help.” He grabbed his rifle and ran out of his bedroom to see a man “dressed head to toe in tactical gear, holding a gun to his mother’s head.”
Heisler said, “I had about 5 to 6 seconds to make a decision.” While he was assessing the situation, the masked gunman allegedly pointed the gun at him, so Heisler fired, striking the gunman in the head and killing him.
Asked about shooting his own father, Heisler said, “By the time I did recognize him, the decision was made.”
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri made clear his belief that Heisler did what had to be done, saying, “When you open the door and you see somebody dressed in all black, in fatigues, with a ski mask on and a gun in your mother’s face. He did the right thing.”
Investigators discovered the father was armed with only BB guns after the fact, but Heisler did not know that. Sheriff Gualtieri explained that the father never gave Heisler any reason to think the situation was other than dire. Gualtieri said, “It looked like [the father] was there meaning business and playing for keeps. And to do some serious damage.”
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