Ruth Helen Harrion was a 67-year-old mother, grandmother, and well-known painter, illustrator and graphic artist in Jackson, Mississippi. Helen even designed the tiger logo for Jackson State University in the 1970's. According to her obituary "The Lord, with open arms, called Helen home July 15, 2014 to enter the gates of Heaven."
What happened on Tuesday, July 15th is a tragedy and a stark reminder that while guns are a great equalizer, they are not a magical talisman that keeps you safe. Sometimes the good guys don't make it through an encounter.
It was 2:23a.m. when Helen placed a call to 911 and told dispatchers, "I have a prowler around my house, 2715 Kingsroad Avenue". The dispatcher asked Helen for her name and then stated, "Okay, we're sending police" before disconnecting the call.
"She was rather calm when she made that call and she expressed that she needed police presence," said Jackson Police Chief Lindsey Horton.
According to Helen's daughter Angela Harrion, "That's just her. When she made the phone call she put trust in them".
"It's life or death, that's easy to state. Not every call is the same," says Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham. Graham told reporters that protocol is to keep the person on the line with 911 until authorities arrive on scene and take control of the situation.
Jackson police officers responded to the home just 8 minutes after the call was received. The officers knocked on the door and received no answer. They then did a cursory review of the property and left.
It is unknown if Helen was still alive when the officers got to the property. Neighbors believe she would still be alive if police had done a better job and made sure to make contact with her.
What we do know is that Helen's son went to the home around 1p.m. that day and found his mother's body in the back yard. She had been beaten, strangled, had her neck broken, and was shot in the face.
According to police, the bloody crime scene shows signs of an extensive struggle. Helen was able to get to her handgun and fired a single shot but are unsure if she wounded anyone.
Our thoughts are with the Helen's six children, her grandchildren, and her friends.
With all the tough guy internet talk about "what I would do" in a defensive gun use situation, we just thought it's important to remember that life doesn't always go the way we think it will.