A baby sitter’s desperate struggle with a gunman who barged into her home and sexually abused her seemed close to a tragic end when the intruder raised his gun to within inches of her head and pulled the trigger.
But the bullet missed, and Chantiell Thomas suffered only gunpowder burns on her face.
“I must have had an angel there, because I don’t remember hitting his gun away from my head,” she says.
Thomas sobbed Monday as she described the physical and emotional trauma she suffered last week when Lance Alexander, 25, broke into her home, abused her and kidnapped Kristina Jacobson, 7.
Alexander stole Thomas’ car and led police on a 100-mile chase south on Interstate 5 before finally being forced off the road. Alexander was killed by a police sharpshooter after he threatened to kill the girl.
Thomas was taking care of her two young daughters, Kristina and another child, when Alexander forced his way into her house after first pretending to be looking for a lost puppy.
Alexander ordered the sitter to use a roll of duct tape to bind and gag the three older children. Then he took her into her bedroom, forced her to undress and began to fondle her.
“At this time, he was very relaxed and I took my opportunity to grab his gun,” she said. “We fought for a while on the bed, and he shoved me down and pointed the gun at me and told me I was stupid.”
Alexander briefly left the room to check on the three girls.
“I went over on the bed and grabbed my husband’s gun,” Thomas said. “I hit the safety, and he came back in, and I was bent over so he couldn’t see me.
“As he pulled me up, I turned around, pointed my gun and went to shoot. I tried to shoot, and the gun didn’t go off. He brought his gun up to my head, and it went off.”
“I remember seeing the shot. I remember the fire. I felt blood spatter across my face, and I told him, ‘God, you shot me.”’
Alexander ran from the bedroom, grabbed Kristina and escaped in Thomas’ car.
Thomas dialed 911, gave the car’s license plate number and the direction the car was heading.
Thomas returned to her home on Sunday for the first time since the incident, and found that neighbors had gotten together and repainted the house inside and out and put in new carpeting to give her a feeling of starting over.
“Everybody’s been wonderful,” she said.
Thomas said she hasn’t decided whether to resume the day-care business in her Salem home.
“I don’t know what I want to do. I want to be able to help kids, if they experience something traumatic like this,” she said.