A bullet (in color) resting next to a gun (in black-and-white.)

11-Year-Old Girl With Shotgun Stops Invaders?

Claim

A preteen shot and killed two undocumented intruders in her family's Montana home.

Rating

Not True

Reporting

A persistent story about a young girl with a gun and two undocumented people breaking in plays on xenophobia and fear to make its point:

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 this story did not make the news because it’s not at all true. According to the Montana Standard and the Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff’s department in Montana, the entire story was completely invented:

“This never happened,” Walsh said.

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 debunked by media and law enforcement, the story still circulates in perpetuity. The Billings-Gazette took a look at the persistent story 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.

Columnist Phillip Morris with The Plain Dealer wrote a retrospective about the myth in 2013, noting that he still received emails about the same story — which remains completely untrue:

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.