Since 2007, a rumor about a young girl with a gun (Patricia Harrington) and two undocumented people breaking in (Ralphel Resindez and Enrico Garcia) plays on xenophobia and fear to make its point during its cyclical appearances on Facebook and in email boxes:
Shotgun Preteen vs. Illegal alien Home Invaders:
Butte, Montana November 5, 2007
Two illegal aliens, Ralphel Resindez, 23, and Enrico Garza, 26,
probably believed they would easily overpower home-alone 11 year old Patricia Harrington after her father had left their two-story home.
It seems the two crooks never learned two things: they were in Montana and Patricia had been a clay shooting champion since she was nine.
Patricia was in her upstairs room when the two men broke through the front door of the house. She quickly ran to her father’s room and grabbed his 12 gauge Mossberg 500 shotgun.
Resindez was the first to get up to the second floor only to be the first to catch a near point blank blast of buckshot from the 11-year-old’s knee crouch aim. He suffered fatal wounds to his abdomen.
The email asks if you ever wonder why “good stuff” never makes the news. The truth is that the Butte shooting story did not make the news because it’s entirely fabricated. According to the Montana Standard and the Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff’s department in Montana, the entire story was completely invented:
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The story claims the girl shot and killed the two intruders while she was home alone. The story doesn’t provide a street address or attribute the information to any official sources.
Walsh brushed off the story of an urban myth.
“It’s amazing how these things get around,” he said.
Despite the fact that it has been unequivocally and repeatedly debunked by the media and law enforcement, the tall tale still circulates in perpetuity. The Billings-Gazette took a look at the persistent yarn in 2007:
Numerous people from all over the United States have contacted The Montana Standard in the past year via e-mail or phone to verify if the story is true. The story is often given the headline “Home Invasion Gone Wrong.”
A recent search for this story on the Internet search engine Google.com returned with more than 400 hits.
The story has been printed as fact on some anti-gun control and anti-immigration Web sites. The phony story identifies the 11-year-old girl as Patricia Harrington, who shoots and kills the two “illegal aliens” identified as Ralphel Resindez and Enrico Garza.
So why does this story still circulate?
Probably, because it seems perfectly believable. For a nation that remains bitterly divided on the issues of immigration and gun control, this violent parable highlights the worst fears of what illegal immigration and stricter gun control could portend for the nation.
No one is safe without easy access to a gun. Not even little American girls. That is the point of this hoax from Montana that is passed around online as if it were gospel.
The irony of this story is that there are plenty of true examples of armed, law-abiding citizens using guns to defend themselves, their homes and their loved ones.
But many of those stories don’t read as well or carry the emotional capital embedded in the tale of a well-trained girl using her daddy’s gun to defend the house. That’s why some prefer a lie to the truth.
Update, September 20 2019, 3:39 PM: Although the email forwards quoted above began circulating in 2007 (at the latest), the tale remained alive and well across Facebook — particularly in mid-to-late 2019. Two separate-but-similar versions of the story were shared in July 2019, with interest cresting in mid-September 2019.
One iteration was shared on July 9 2019 by user Ronel Scott, and was being shared by the dozens every few minutes more than two months later:
Text-based posts copied-and-pasted from that iteration were identifiable by their “thanks FOX NEWS for reporting it” line at the start. One day later, user Kenneth Lindsey shared a near-identical post — telling the same story over a decade after it purportedly happened:
11 YR. OLD WHO SHOT ILLEGALS ??
A Shotgun-armed Preteen vs. Illegal Alien Home Invaders.
Two illegal aliens, Ralphel Resindez, 23, and Enrico Garza, 26, probably believed they would easily overpower home-alone 11-year-old Patricia Harrington after her father had left their two-story home.
It seems these crooks never learned two things:
1. They were in Montana.
2. Patricia had been a clay shooting champion since she was nine.
Patricia was in her upstairs room when the two men broke through the front door of the house. She quickly ran to her father’s room and grabbed his 12-gauge Mossberg 500 shotgun.
Resindez was the first to get up to the second floor, only to be the first to catch a near point blank blast of buckshot from the 11-year-old’s knee-crouch aim. He suffered fatal wounds to his abdomen and genitals.
When Garza ran to the foot of the stairs, he took a blast to the left shoulder and staggered out into the street where he bled to death before medical help could arrive.
It was found out later that Resindez was armed with a stolen 45-caliber handgun he took during another home invasion robbery. That victim, 50-year-old David 0’Burien, was not so lucky. He died from stab wounds to the chest.
Ever wonder why good stuff never makes NBC, CBS, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, or ABC news?
An 11-year-old girl, properly trained, defended her home, and herself against two murderous, illegal immigrants and she wins.
She is still alive. Now THAT is Gun Control!
Thought for the day: Calling an illegal alien an undocumented immigrant’ is like calling a drug dealer an ‘unlicensed pharmacist.’
I BELIEVE YOU’LL PROBABLY PASS THIS ON!!!!!
So old was the story, in fact, that the purported 11-year-old girl at its center would be in her mid-twenties as it continued making its way across the internet.
Its graduation from email forward (primarily) to Facebook breathed new life into the phony news item, seemingly bolstered by random images appended to posts spreading the rumor. One of the two images depicted a grown woman aiming a weapon, and the other showed a teenage girl holding a gun — of course, neither image had anything to do with the false claim.