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Jackson Street resident credits dog with survival

Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Natchez resident LeShaun Hartley stands in front of her Jackson Street house on Tuesday afternoon, a day after she was able to fight off an attempted robbery at the house.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Natchez resident LeShaun Hartley stands in front of her Jackson Street house on Tuesday afternoon, a day after she was able to fight off an attempted robbery at the house.

NATCHEZ — A Natchez woman armed only with a sense that something was wrong and a .357 magnum was able to fight off an attempted robbery Monday.

JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez resident LeShaun Hartley carries her dog Hercules near her Jackson Street home on Tuesday afternoon, a day after she was able to fight off an attempted robbery at the house.
JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez resident LeShaun Hartley carries her dog Hercules near her Jackson Street home on Tuesday afternoon, a day after she was able to fight off an attempted robbery at the house.

Leshaun Hartley was getting ready for the day at her residence in the 100 block of Jackson Street Monday morning when she heard a knock at the door. When she asked who it was, the answer came quickly, “Steven.”

The visitor was Steven T. Hill, 20, 7 Johns Lane, who Hartley said she had in the past treated like a son, taking him in when he was in a tight spot until he could get his life straight. She had no reason to suspect anything was wrong, and she invited him into the house to cool off in the air conditioning.

But it quickly became evident that something wasn’t right. When he talked to her, Hartley said Hill wouldn’t look her in the eye. He was sweating profusely, she said.

When Hartley’s dog started barking aggressively, she knew Hill wasn’t alone, and telling him that she needed to check her phone in the back room, Hartley stepped in and grabbed her gun, tucking it into her shorts.

“I knew right then, it was a quick reaction in my mind, that he was there to rob me,” she said.

When Hartley reentered the front room, a male she knew to be Hill’s younger brother was there along with another man.

When Hartley told the men they should leave, the younger brother rushed to the back of the house and started ransacking it while Hill grabbed her in a headlock and started hitting her, she said.

“Steven knew where my gun was, and he had told (the brother) exactly where to look,” Hartley said. “It was just a quick reaction on my part to get it before.”

While she was unable to wrestle away from the attacker, Hartley tried to keep calm and talk him down.

“I told him, ‘Steven, I am pregnant, you shouldn’t be doing this. Just get what you are going to get.’”

After breaking away from Hill, Hartley said she slipped the gun out of her shorts and tried to keep it concealed, but the third man saw it and tried to grab the gun away from her. Hartley raised the gun and fired two rounds.

“I shot the gun and said, ‘You are going to die,’” she said.

Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — One of the two shots fired by Hartley to scare off three men passed through one of the windows on the front of her house.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — One of the two shots fired by Hartley to scare off three men passed through one of the windows on the front of her house.

The men bolted from the house, leaving Hartley unharmed.

“I really had to push my fear aside,” she said. “It was me or them. I’m pregnant and I just lost my mom a few months ago, and I wasn’t going to go like this. I was going to fight to the end.”

And while Hartley attributes her survival to quick thinking, she was also quick to thank her dog, Hercules.

“My dog let me know that there was more than one person in my house,” she said. “My dog saved my life.”

Natchez police later arrested Hill on a charge of strong-arm robbery.

Hill’s younger brother — a juvenile — was also charged and is in the custody of the juvenile justice court, Natchez Police Detective Jerry Ford said.

The police did not have a third suspect Tuesday, Ford said.

Hill was detained without bond Tuesday afternoon at the Natchez City Jail.

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