It was after 3:30 a.m. when the burglar alarm went off at Mark Hayes’ far south Chicago home. Waking up to investigate the alarm, he was barefoot and unarmed when he spotted an intruder in his garage. USMC veteran Hayes called out to his wife, who brought him his shoes. And a filet knife.
Then the burglar attacked Hayes with a hammer. The intruder, 52 year-old career criminal Harold Cornell, quickly learned that a Marine with a knife is a very dangerous man.
Cornell didn’t have long to contemplate this painful lesson, because a few minutes later he was pronounced dead in a Chicago emergency room.
The Chicago Tribune has the rest, and it’s worth clicking over there for the videos I can’t embed:
Mark Hayes, a 44-year-old former Marine, stood barefoot and dressed only in shorts as he faced a man who had broken into his garage in West Pullman in the middle of the night.
“Get the gun,” the man said, apparently trying to fool Hayes into thinking he had an armed accomplice with him.
Hayes called out to his wife in the house, who brought him his shoes — and a fillet knife. Hayes turned to see the intruder holding a hammer.
“My son was in the Marines for four years,” Hayes’ father Melvin said, recounting the confrontation. “He does a couple upward thrusts under the guy’s ribcage and must have hit an artery because he starts bleeding profusely.”
The intruder ran out and jumped into a white car, leaving a trail of blood for a block and a half, according to police. Hayes got into his own car but soon lost sight of the getaway car, according to police and neighbors.
The white car pulled up moments later at Roseland Hospital, police said. The suspect, identified as Harold Cornell, 52, died there at 3:44 a.m.
Bleeding profusely is probably a polite understatement: Cornell left a blood trail like a gutshot antelope and was dead within minutes. A couple of thrusts under the ribcage will do that.
Hayes was questioned and released by police, who have not announced whether they plan to file any charges against him. Luckily for Hayes, every prospective juror in Chicagoland already knows that the dead guy had dozens of arrests and a criminal record dating back to the mid-1980s. This would make it exceedingly difficult to convict Hayes of anything, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that the DA doesn’t try to do a George Zimmerman on him.
The good man prevailed and survived in this tragic encounter, but this should have been a defensive gun use DGU) instead of a defensive knife use (DKU). Why? Because Cornell could easily have killed Hayes with the hammer if Hayes hadn’t been a well-trained fighter.
And because if Cornell had heard the ‘shuck-shuck’ sound of a pump shotgun, been dazzled by a weapon-light, or seen a red laser dot quivering on his chest, he probably would have run like hell.
Instead Cornell is dead, and Hayes, a decent man, has to live in a media fishbowl for several weeks or months, hope he’s not prosecuted, and someday try to put this horror behind him. Peace be with him.