Woman, 72, foils burglary

YOUNGSTOWN – Police say a 72-year-old South Side woman on oxygen held a man at gunpoint in her home Wednesday evening after he crashed through her porch window and onto her couch.

Phibbie Underwood of Ferndale Avenue told 26-year-old Alex Melton of Mount Vernon Road that ”you broke into the wrong house” and ”I’ll kill you” after he came through the window about 8 p.m. Wednesday, police reports state. She fired one shot in his direction.

Police said they arrived to find Melton lying on the floor bleeding and Underwood pointing a .22-caliber revolver at him. Her burglar alarm also continued to emit loud sounds as she talked to officers, reports state.

Police Chief Rod Foley said Thursday that Underwood put on a clinic on how a homeowner should defend themselves with a gun.

”She’s a brave lady,” Foley said. ”She did exactly what she’s supposed to do with a home defense firearm. Good for her.”

No one answered a reporter’s knock on Underwood’s door on Thursday, and she did not return a message seeking comment.

Underwood told police that it began when she heard the front door rattle, saw a shadow on the porch and then heard someone banging on the window.

She retrieved her gun from her bedroom, and when she came back, Melton had broken the glass on the front window and tumbled onto her couch, the police report states.

She yelled at him to get out of the house and leave her alone. Instead, Melton got up and walked into another room, then walked back toward her, reports state. She told him to stop and when he didn’t, she pulled the trigger.

The gun misfired, but Underwood fired again, missed, and Melton got down on the floor, police said.

Paramedics found that he was bleeding because of the glass he broke to get inside, reports state.

He told police he was running from someone trying to kill him. Police said that he appeared to be under the influence of some type of drug.

He was booked into the Mahoning County Jail on charges of aggravated burglary and possession of drug paraphernalia because of a crack pipe police found in his pocket.

Foley said detectives are checking Melton’s story that he was being chased. That could mitigate the charges against him, Foley said, ”if his intent wasn’t to harm her or steal anything.”

Underwood’s use of the gun was textbook because she did not panic, Foley said.

”She didn’t use it (gun) until she felt threatened,” Foley said.

Foley said her neighborhood is a quieter area of the South Side, and there are not a lot of problems there.

The chief also praised her for holding Melton at gunpoint until police got to her home.

”She didn’t run away,” Foley said. ”She’s really a brave woman.”