Defensive Knife Use Of The Day: Chicago Southsider Edition. But It Should Have Been A Defensive Gun Use.

Image courtesy Chicago Tribune

Do not invade this man’s home.

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.


  1. Dirk Diggler says:

    Some enterprising exec at a knife company should put this guy on payroll as a paid spokesman . . . Or start a legal defense fund so we can contribute.

    Of course, waiting on sharpton or jackson to lead the rallies and demand we ban knifes and decry the racist nature of the killing . . . . Oh wait, nevermind

  2. Matt in FL says:

    While I get your point, I’m not really a fan of Monday (Sunday) morning quarterbacking someone who got the job done, and well. There might be tactical lessons to be learned from this, but “he should have had a gun” in an area where that’s effectively impossible isn’t really one of them.

  3. Jeff Cville says:

    Matt, I think that’s the point. It should have been a DGU, but it wasn’t because the law abiding homeowner is subject to Chicago’s draconian gun laws.

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      Exactly. There are basically no defensive gun uses in Chicago. If there were, there would be less crime.

      1. Mark N. says:

        I seem to reading about a vey unusual DGU in Chicago. An old man in his 80s was running this “bar” out of the front of his house, and some punk tried to rob him. So he shot the punk. Killed him. The City declined to prosecute, probably because of the guys age. What was unusual was that not only did the guy have an illegal handgun because of the ban, he was an ex-con. It would seem that gun prosecutions in the Windy City are a political question, not a legal one.

        1. great unknown says:

          99%+ of all prosecutions in Chicago are politcal, not legal.

  4. Accur81 says:

    Recidivism at work again. 25 arrests is quite an accomplishment, but there won’t be 26 because if this brave home owner.

    That’s one of many reasons why we should not add more gun laws such as the SAFE Act. We already don’t have jail and prison space. Are we to believe it is better to let out the domestic violence abuser or child molester to make way for someone in possession of an 11 round mag?

  5. mediocrates says:

    The police will probably arrest him for lack of KOID card….

    1. Russ Bixby says:

      Ha! Just so long as there were 7 or fewer inches in the magazine…

  6. Mark N. says:

    The perp must have been a real punk (or really wasted) if he didn’t run when the homeowner came into the garage with an alarm sounding. The whole point of burglary is to not get caught…This qualifies for a Darwin award, but unfortunately, given his age, he probably already contributed to the gene pool.

    1. Russ Bixby says:

      Contributed? Detracted from the gene pool, methinks.

  7. jwm says:

    Moral of the story. Don’t give a marine a chance to get his shoes and knife. It won’t end well for you.

    1. scubamatt says:

      That made my entire day, man. HooF–kinRah!

    2. Chris Dumm says:

      Although it may end very quickly.

  8. Machy says:

    Hate to say it but: As long as Mark Hayes is black, charges won’t be filed.

  9. Paul B says:

    Yep, most likely a BM on a BM kind of event. Not much chance for any outrage.

    Now if they could find pics of the thief when he was 12 and flash them around some.

    Training is a good thing, which is the takeaway for me.

  10. Jim Bullock says:

    One small correction. There are no former Marines. Some are no longer on active duty.

    1. jwm says:

      Until the alarm goes off or a threat presents itself. All the way live and active then.

  11. Pat says:

    Harold met filet.

  12. JB says:

    KA-BAR should give this man a genuine USMC KA-BAR for his service to the nation & the State of Illinois. He has saved the state a lot of $$$ and no doubt a lot more potential victims from the felonious SOB! Good for him; gun, knife, baseball bat, I wish more burglaries would end with the perp in a body bag.

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Defensive Knife Use Of The Day: Chicago Southsider Edition. But It Should Have Been A Defensive Gun Use.

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