Mary Rock, 87, moved from Los Angeles to Spokane 10 years ago to escape the high rate of crime there.
On Tuesday she found herself caught up in one of the biggest crime stories of the year: the shooting of two Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies, a high-speed chase to Deer Park, and the suspect taking his own life as pursuing officers closed in.
In the middle of that chaos, Rock confronted the suspected shooter in her North Spokane house after he broke in to steal her car.
And the petite woman put up quite a fight, wielding a heavy wooden cane and shouting for Charles Robert Wallace to get out of her house.
Police say Wallace, 41, broke into Rock’s home in the 9800 block of North Andrew Street and stole her car. It happened shortly after Wallace shot two sheriff’s deputies during a traffic stop and before he led police on a wild chase, shooting at pursuing cars and putting other drivers at great risk, officials said.
In an interview today, Rock said she had been sitting in her living room when she heard some commotion in her kitchen. She went to investigate and found the stranger standing there.
“I said, ‘What are you doing in my house? Get out of my house.’”
She reached for the phone on the wall to call 911, but Wallace ripped it out and demanded the keys to her car.
“I began hitting him with my cane,” Rock said. “I says, ‘Get out of my house,’ and he was shoving me. He pushed me down.”
But Rock wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. The struggle continued into her living room, where the intruder found her fanny pack containing her house keys, car keys and cell phone.
Wallace dragged her out into the driveway, according to witnesses, hitting her with the butt of his gun, but she continued to fight back, striking him with her cane as she fought to stop him from stealing her car.
Wallace drove off in her 2002 Honda Accord and led police on a pursuit northward. Wallace, who was wanted by federal agents since leaving a Spokane Valley drug rehabilitation center last week, eventually ran over spike strips, crashed into a Spokane police cruiser, and fatally shot himself.
“Spokane is getting bad,” said Rock’s nephew, Mike Stevens, who owns the home. “This is horrible. It’s all drug driven. It’s just getting worse and worse.”
Rock’s biggest concerns were that she couldn’t get back into her home Tuesday evening – it was a cordoned-off crime scene – and that Wallace had taken her car, which she had just filled up with gas.
Throughout the struggle, Rock never realized the man was armed and had just opened fire on two deputies. She was not seriously hurt in the scuffle.
“Everyone said I was so lucky he didn’t pull the gun on me,” she said.