STANTON, Calif. (AP) — Jan Cooper could see the would-be burglar's dark silhouette through a crack in the vertical blinds as he tried to slide open her porch door.
The 72-year-old Southern California woman had been on the phone for almost eight minutes with the 911 operator, who told her deputies were almost there — but Cooper realized there wasn't time.
"I'm firing!" Cooper shouted to the dispatcher as she pulled the trigger on her .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver.
The single shot passed through the gap in the door, leaving a mark and passing just inches from the shocked suspect's head.
Cooper then cursed at the suspect, shouting at him to "back up."
"You'd better get the police here. I don't know whether I hit him or not. I'm not sure," she tells the dispatcher in the dramatic 911 call.
"He's standing at my door, my back door. He's in my yard."
The suspect was not hit and Brandon Alexander Perez, 31, was arrested a short while later by responding deputies, who heard the gunshot, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Perez pleaded not guilty to a burglary charge. Paul Rogers, his public defender, did not immediately return a call Wednesday.
Cooper's gun, which she has owned for about 20 years, was legally purchased and properly registered, Amormino said.
On Tuesday, Cooper relived those terrifying moments at a news conference called by sheriff's officials, who played the 911 tape.
Cooper was accompanied by her husband, a World War II veteran who will be 86 next week. Bob Cooper lied about his age to enlist early and was sent to Europe, he said.
At the news conference, a soft-spoken and composed Cooper said she is amazed by the anger in her voice — and the curse words she let fly — after she fired the shot.
"I am a Christian woman and I'm very proud of it and I don't curse, but after I shot, rage took hold and I just blasted away," she said. "And, in fact, afterwards my husband said, 'I've never heard you talk like that!'"
The stunned intruder apologized to Cooper after she fired, she recalled, telling her, "I'm sorry, ma'am. I'm leaving. Please don't shoot."
Cooper, a self-described tomboy who has also studied archery and knife-throwing, said she has owned guns since she was a teenager but had never fired at a person.
Her husband, for his part, was unfazed by his wife's actions.
"I'm not surprised at all, not one bit," he said, chuckling. "I know her capabilities and what she can do if she has to."