An elderly woman with a quick temper almost created a tragedy for her neighbors. Eighty-four-year-old Betty Frances Sanders became irritated with the noise that three neighborhood children were making, and she determined that the best solution to combat it was to shoot at them, getting herself arrested.
The three children who lived next door were riding their mini-motorcycles in their Anderson, California neighborhood on Friday evening when Sanders complained of them being “noisy children.” They are all between ages eight and ten.
The children’s mother, Angela Rollins defended them, and the conversation quickly turned into a shouting match.
Both women’s husbands were present as well, and the parties were only “about 20 feet away,” separated by a small fence between “the two properties.” However, it was the elderly woman who acted, using a handgun to fire one shot in the direction of the family.
Another neighbor called the police after hearing a gunshot.
Thankfully, there were no injuries, however, it has not been revealed where the fired shot landed.
Officers from the Shasta County Sheriff’s office arrived at the scene on Dot Lane around 9 P.M. and arrested Sanders on charges of “assault with a firearm and child endangerment,” according to Sergeant Jose Gonzales, and is being detained at the Shasta County Jail with a bail of $50,000.
Police also confiscated the firearm that Sanders used to threaten the family.
It has not been determined who Sanders hired for representation if anyone. Reportedly, “she has not yet entered a plea” but has posted bail. She will appear in court in March.
Hopefully, Sanders will receive the maximum sentence, as she put a family in imminent danger and was only lucky to have not hurt anyone.
However, sometimes criminals unjustly get off, as what happened to a Florida man who shot his neighbors’ dog out of the same agitation as Sanders. In 2016, Jose Rocha shot his neighbors’ German Shepard and Pit Bill, because he wanted the dogs “off his property.”
Claiming that he feared for his own dogs’ safety, despite the neighbors’ dogs not having a history of violence, he shot and killed both animals. The neighboring couple lost their pets, and while Rocha was charged with animal abuse and discharging a firearm, he will not be punished.
Once facing up to ten years, Rocha walked free, as he was not read his Miranda rights, thus voiding the charges.
Assuming that Sanders was read her rights, she is likely to be prosecuted, considering the circumstances. The situation in no way required deadly force to settle, as it was a minor dispute. She also put children in harm’s way, as she shot from a close distance.
Her attorney may argue that she was rightfully annoyed, being that it was getting late in the evening. However, it was a Friday night and living in a rural community, it should be expected that neighbors will occasionally take advantage of open spaces.
Both parents were also present, supervising the children. Considering the kids’ ages, the motorcycles could not have been so loud that Sanders and her husband could not temporarily ignore it.
Sanders‘ actions were highly irresponsible and took advantage of the power of her firearm just to prove her point. Per strict California gun laws, it is likely that she could have her right to bear arms taken away.
In California, negligent discharge of a firearm is determined when three conditions occur: it was on purpose, it was “grossly negligent,” and it could have resulted in an injury or fatality. All three applied to Sanders’ actions, as this was no accident.
It is unfortunate that the neighbors were unable to work out a compromise and that Sanders resorted to violence. The young family was understandably shaken up and they may now be burdened with moving, as their neighborhood is obviously not safe for them if Mr. Sanders remains in his home.
It was not revealed whether there were any previous altercations between the two families. However, one impatient moment resulted in Betty Sanders possibly spending the rest of her life in prison, depending on the severity of her punishment.
Hopefully, California lawmakers will not use this Anderson situation as a reason to advocate for more gun control, though it is likely. The situation was undeniably rare, as reasonable people often try to use less extreme problem-solving methods. However, it, unfortunately, illustrates that anyone can prove to be a danger to the community, even the little old lady down the street.