Elderly Vietnam Vet Thwarts Suspect in South Carolina Home Invasion

“He was not going to go out that door and leave us alive,” recalls 82-year-old Herbert Parrish.

Herbert Parrish, 82, and his 79-year-old wife Lois Parrish [screenshot from WACH Fox 57]

Herbert Parrish, 82, and his 79-year-old wife Lois Parrish [screenshot from WACH Fox 57]

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A home invasion suspect is dead after he attacked an elderly couple in South Carolina, authorities said.

Herbert Parrish, 82, and his 79-year-old wife, Lois Parrish, were at their home in Jackson when they heard a knock just after 2 p.m. on February 15.

Lois told Columbia’s WACH-TV she opened the door and a man, later identified as Harold L. Runnels Jr., 61, said he was looking for his little white Chihuahua and wanted to know if she had seen it.

Lois said no and tried to close the door, but Runnels barged his way inside. The suspect began striking her with the handle of a large knife, causing her to fall down, and he cut her in the forehead, according to the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.

“I felt, we’re gone. He’s going to kill us and take what he can take,” Lois’ husband, Herbert, recalled. “He was not going to go out that door and leave us alive. That’s the way I felt.”

Fearing for his and his wife’s safety, Herbert, a decorated Vietnam veteran, decided he had “to do something quick” and “get an edge on him.”

Herbert grabbed a shotgun he kept hanging by the door and used it to repeatedly strike Runnels until the alleged assailant fell to the ground.

“I started hitting him in the head with the barrel and I know I must have hit him at least ten times right in the face, just as hard as I could hit him,” Herbert said.

Authorities said the altercation left Runnels with traumatic injuries and he later died at Augusta University Medical Center.

Both Herbert and Lois Parrish were hurt during the incident but they are expected to recover. Neither face charges stemming from Runnel’s death.

“When I heard they were able to fend off the suspect, I was so proud of them and I was like, ‘Ok, so that guy picked the wrong house,’” the couple’s neighbor, Jessica Clark, told WJBF.

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