Marcus Everett leaned back in his living room chair and yawned. The 28-year-old Toledo REALTOR® was winding down his Saturday with a post-midnight screening of Lethal Weapon.
The ’80s “buddy cop” blockbuster, which hit theaters more than six years before Everett was born, stars Mel Gibson as erratic Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant Martin Riggs and Danny Glover as Riggs’ by-the-books partner Detective Roger Murtaugh. The action classic is equal parts hilarious, entertaining and absurd — exactly the kind of programming that hooks a late-night channel surfer like Everett.
But just as the wisecracking partners started unraveling an intricate international drug ring, Everett’s mind began drifting away from his flickering TV and onto scheduled home showings and his growing to-do list. He probably didn’t even notice Riggs’ prophetic quip: “I don’t make things complicated. That’s the way they get all by themselves.”
And Then They Did
The desperate screams snapped Everett to attention. He whipped his head in the direction of the woman’s cries. Through his front window, he spotted a neighbor couple in front of their home and, even through the dimly lit night, immediately recognized that the situation was dire.
“The boyfriend was just beating the crap out of this woman,” Everett recalled. “It was bad. It was bad. He was putting hands on her really badly.”
Everett quickly grabbed his cellphone and dialed 911.
“I think a domestic incident is happening across the street,” Everett remembers telling the dispatcher. “I think you need to get over here.”
Keeping an eye on the couple, Everett watched as the escalating situation turned even more urgent.
“Whoa, whoa! You need to get over here now!” Everett pled. “He’s choking her!”
Everett ran to his bedroom to put on pants. Desperate to help the woman but equally eager to keep himself out of harm’s way, he planned to yell at the couple from his home. Everett hoped this would snap the man out of his rage and help buy enough time for the police to arrive.
But by the time he got back to his living room, the woman was at his door.
“She’s beating on my window, begging me to let her in,” Everett recalled.
She likely saw the TV or lights on in the house, Everett thinks — or maybe even noticed Everett on the phone — so she knew that someone was likely awake despite it being nearly 2 in the morning.
Everett had fractions of a second to consider his options. If he opened the door, he’d suddenly be very involved and potentially in danger, but if he didn’t, the woman would likely be more seriously injured — or even killed.
“I opened the door and I let her in,” Everett confirmed.
The battered woman fell to the floor as soon as she got inside, and Everett immediately started tending to her injuries, which included a black eye and several badly bleeding scrapes and cuts.
“Then she said the words that actually saved lives,” Everett recalled. “She said, ‘Get the door! GET THE DOOR!’”
Everett turned to see the boyfriend charging toward the front door. Everett, who is just 5 feet, 1 inch tall but with a muscular build, slammed the door shut on the advancing man. The 34-year-old boyfriend — who was 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighed 220 pounds — stopped the door before it latched and thrust his weight against it, driving it back toward Everett.
“He’s trying to push his way in. I’m trying to push him out,” Everett explained. “I’m pushing with all the strength I have. And I’m just praying at the same time.”
Everett had his Tisas 1911 .45 on his hip, but he knew the gun had to be his absolute last resort.
If I’d had no education on the matter, anything could have happened, or even worse, shooting may have been Plan A instead of a last resort and would have opened up a host of other issues.
“I was at the ready to use it if he would’ve been able to push past me,” Everett said. “But, thank goodness, he didn’t. I slammed the door shut. I locked the door.”
The attacker instantly began kicking and slamming against the secured door. When it didn’t give, he ran around the side of the home, searching for other ways inside.
Everett asked the woman, who was struggling to catch her breath, to hide in his bedroom. Meanwhile, he grabbed a shotgun he had staged near his back door and ran into the bedroom himself, closing and locking the door behind him.
Everett slid a large, heavy black box in front of the bedroom door to barricade it shut. With the bedroom door blocked, the attacker would have to break through two doors to get to Everett and the woman, creating extra time for law enforcement to arrive. It’s a tactic Everett remembers Concealed Carry Magazine Executive Editor Kevin Michalowski recommending in a USCCA YouTube video.
“I remember watching a video where he said, ‘The smartest thing you can do is barricade yourself in your room, barricade yourself in one location and shout commands that they need to leave,’” Everett said. “And, you know, if they do come in the room, all bets are off.”
The terrified woman hid in Everett’s closet, adding an additional layer of protection between the bedroom door and her. Everett grabbed an AR pistol chambered in 7.62×39 that he keeps in his room and pointed it at the door as he shouted commands: “Sir, please leave!”
In the anxious minutes before police arrived, Everett called 911 again to help keep officers updated on the situation. Though the attacker wasn’t responding to his commands, Everett could still hear him violently slamming against the front door.
When officers reached Everett’s home, the boyfriend was gone, evidently driving away in his vehicle moments earlier as sirens approached.
Based on call records, the elapsed time between when Everett heard the first screams to the moment police arrived was approximately seven minutes. It felt much longer.
“I thought 20 or 30 minutes had gone by,” he admitted.
Paramedics rushed into Everett’s home and began treating the woman’s injuries. Toledo Police Department reports indicate the attacker had punched the woman in the face with a closed fist multiple times, choked her, bit her leg and slammed her head through a glass window, shattering it.
According to the police reports, the fight started when the boyfriend accused the girlfriend of “sleeping with her cousin.” The girlfriend also told police that the man owned a handgun and may have been carrying it.
The responding officers thanked Everett for keeping a cool head and helping to diffuse the situation while also protecting the woman.
“On so many levels, this could have been a lot worse,” Everett said.
Prepared for the Worst
Within days of the incident, Everett left a comment on a USCCA YouTube video.
“Hey, I just wanted to say thank you so much for this channel and all the advice it has given,” Everett wrote. “I was involved in a self-defense situation last week, and thanks to everything I’ve learned on this channel, myself and others were able to survive the encounter relatively unharmed; and most importantly, I didn’t have to open fire on a man trying to break into my house.
“If I’d had no education on the matter, anything could have happened, or even worse, shooting may have been Plan A instead of a last resort and would have opened up a host of other issues.
“Again, thank you all for everything you teach. This information literally saved me and others from a potentially traumatic life-changing experience.”
These comments quickly made their way all the way up to USCCA President and Founder Tim Schmidt, who shared Everett’s post at a companywide meeting as a real-life example of the organization’s lifesaving mission in action.
Oddly enough, Everett first heard about the USCCA while watching HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. In May 2021, Oliver prominently featured the USCCA in a segment about “stand your ground” laws. The report, which ended with Oliver calling on legislators to repeal all stand your ground laws across the country, began with a clip from a 2019 USCCA video in which Michalowski reveals the eight handguns — one by one — he was able to conceal under a Hawaiian shirt.
Everett learned enough about the USCCA in the decidedly anti-gun Oliver piece to investigate the organization further. While he didn’t become a member immediately, he was impressed with the educational materials available through the USCCA’s website and YouTube channel. He credits that info with helping him keep a cool head throughout the entire dynamic incident that unfolded at his home in February 2022.
“I didn’t panic,” he said. “I’ve never been in a situation like this before, but I felt as if I knew what to do.”
His actions on the night of the incident were the culmination of months of mental and physical preparation. He had a handgun within reach and had staged a shotgun and AR pistol in strategic locations. He knew not to run outside to help because he’d be putting himself in danger. After he let the woman into his home, he was able to fight to close the door against a much larger man because he keeps himself physically fit and trains in Brazilian Jujitsu.
He was able to barricade his bedroom door shut for an added layer of protection because he had staged that heavy black box next to his bed specifically for that purpose. He knew to shout commands to the man attempting to break in and to not threaten him. He knew to not attempt to clear rooms in the house; law enforcement would handle that when they arrived. Above all else, he was prepared to stop the threat with a firearm if his life or the woman’s life were in jeopardy but absolutely not before that moment.
“I want, obviously, using a firearm to be Plan Z,” Everett said. “He’d have to step through two doors before I would have to make a decision like that. If he was determined enough to come in there, all bets would be off. But the reason why I felt so good is I immediately knew exactly what I was going to do.”
If Everett had been forced to shoot, he was confident in his abilities because he practices dry-fire exercises regularly and shoots at his local range at least twice a month.
The composure and presence of mind Everett maintained throughout the entire incident was noteworthy for a relative newcomer to firearms and concealed carry. Everett bought his first gun in 2020 and started carrying a concealed handgun in July 2021.
The attacker wasn’t caught the night of the incident at Everett’s home but eventually turned himself in. He was charged with domestic violence and assault.
Officers initially told Everett that a detective would follow up with him and that the man’s charges would include attempted burglary since he had tried to break into the house, but Everett was never contacted by police after the night of the incident.
The case went to trial on April 18, 2022, but the judge dismissed the charges after the victim did not show up in court.
Everett said he recognized the man and woman from the neighborhood but had never spoken with them prior to the incident. He hasn’t seen the man or his vehicle since that night. He’s seen the woman outside of her house a few times but hasn’t had a chance to talk with her. Everett said it appears she recently moved out. He left the neighborhood recently as well, as he bought a home in another part of Toledo.
Following the incident, Everett decided to switch to a 9mm for his everyday carry gun and added a higher-capacity .45 for home-defense purposes. He’s also adapted where he stages his shotgun and AR pistol. He’s working on a more comprehensive home-defense plan for his new home.
Reflecting on the incident, Everett would change little about the way he handled it, aside from making sure to close the front door immediately after letting the woman inside.
“If I had been any later, this would be a different story. And I’m not proud of that at all,” he said.
Above all, he’s thankful he was able to help the woman and end the situation with zero shots fired.
“I’m just glad that nobody got hurt. Nobody died. The gentleman ran away, and everybody came out of it alive,” Everett said. “I think this issue turned out as good as it could have, barring the fact that this poor woman got assaulted so badly.”
And now Everett is ready to leave the action to the movie stars again.
“Yeah, I’m good on excitement for a good long minute,” he admitted.
In a pivotal scene late in the movie, Everett wasn’t able to finish that fateful February night, Gen. Peter McAllister, Lethal Weapon’s villain mastermind, tells a tied-up and tortured Murtaugh to spare him with threats of retaliation.
“It’s over,” McAllister asserts. “There’s no more heroes left in the world.”
Fortunately for Murtaugh — and Everett’s neighbor — he was wrong.
One Gun, Two Epic Films
When the U.S. Army adopted the Beretta M9 as its official sidearm in 1985, Hollywood quickly embraced it as well. One of its first high-profile appearances was in Lethal Weapon (1987). LAPD Detective Martin Riggs (played by Mel Gibson) demonstrated his prowess with the semi-auto pistol on numerous occasions. In one notable scene, Riggs shows off his skill with the Beretta while at the range with LAPD Detective Sergeant Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), who preferred an S&W Model 19 revolver. In Die Hard (1988), Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) uses the same pistol as Riggs, notably while thwarting a hostage holdup. The rubber prop gun used in both films is currently on display at the NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia.
— Frank Jastrzembski, Contributing Editor