by Dave Workman
When 73-year-old Beth Greer of Saucier, MS, successfully defended both herself and her husband, Tommy, last Oct. 16 in a fatal gun battle with a convicted felon who tried to rob them, she not only survived but also inspired the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) to inaugurate a new award for women who fight back against criminal attack.
That award is being named in honor of the late First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who acknowledged in her autobiography that she carried a handgun even after moving into the White House in 1933 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president.
“Mrs. Roosevelt had many advantages, but unlike today’s name-brand feminists, she knew everyoneeven a First Ladywas ultimately responsible for their own safety and freedom,” said Peggy Tartaro, editor of Women & Guns, which is owned by SAF. “That is why the Second Amendment Foundation is establishing this award in her honor and in her memory.”
Mrs. Greer told Gun Week that the harrowing experience has left her with a firm resolve to never “go anywhere without a gun.”
Her story, first reported in the Dec. 10 issue of Gun Week, is what SAF founder Alan Gottlieb said is a “textbook example of the importance of having firearms for personal protection.”
Harrison County, MS, Sheriff George Payne told Gun Week, “This is a classic example of how in this country we can still protect ourselves.…This shows that a senior citizen can still protect herself. I’m proud of her!”
Payne was not so praiseworthy of the man Greer fatally shot that night in the garage of her rural south Mississippi home.
Bobby Hardy was what law enforcement veterans sarcastically refer to as “a model citizen.” His past included convictions for armed robbery and aggravated assault, and he had just been released from prison in May of last year, just five months before his death from multiple gunshot wounds.
Beth Greer recalled seeing Hardy at the couple’s Gulfport store a few times prior to that fateful night, and he also appeared at about 9 p.m. that evening, asking what time they planned to close. She believes that Hardy had previously followed them home 18 miles away to plan the robbery, and possibly to kill them in the process. This time, after asking them about closing time, she believes he drove to the home ahead of them and waited in the darkened garage for their arrival.
Beth said Tommy had bought her a pickup truck that, as it turned out, was too long to allow the garage door to close. So, they simply lowered the door to the top of the truck bed and that’s how Hardy got inside.
When the Greers arrived, Beth stayed outside to get some things out of their car trunk while Tommy entered the house through a connecting door inside the garage.
“I heard over my right shoulder somebody say ‘Hey,’ ” she recalled. “I came up out of the trunk. He (Hardy) had a ski mask and gloves on.”
The convicted criminal also had a semi-automatic pistol in one hand. Beth tried to remain calm and recalled that she twice pleaded with the masked robber to spare her life. She then called for her husband, and at that point, Hardy stepped around her and went into the house. That’s where a confrontation began between Hardy and Tommy Greer, and it was a knockdown brawl.
Confronted by the armed robber, Tommy knew it was a life-or-death situation and even though he was facing a man with a gun, Greer waded into the fight. Beth Greer says Tommy is “the real hero.”
Tommy fought with Hardy into the laundry room that leads out to the garage, Beth recalled. While the fight ensued, Beth quietly but quickly moved to get into their car because lying on the console was a .38 Special double-action revolver, a gun she had kept after her first husband, a local constable, had died from a heart attack many years ago. She told Gun Week that this revolver was special, because she had taken it to a gun shop and had pearl grips fitted to it for her first husband.
The revolver, which had not been fired in decades and was still loaded with the original ammunition, became more a life saver than a memento.
As Tommy struggled with Hardy, a single shot was fired. The bullet merely grazed Tommy on the side of the head, but such wounds are known to bleed profusely, and Beth believed that when she heard that shot, Tommy had been murdered.
And then Hardy appeared at the garage door and focused on Beth. It would be the biggest and last mistake he ever made.
“I’m sure he was coming out to do away with me so there would be no witnesses,” Beth recalled in chilling detail. “He took one step back out into garage and I shot him. He hit the floor. As he went down, he shot at me and the bullet hit the post of our car. It’s got a big hole in it.”
The hole in Hardy was smaller, but far more decisive. He was down, but not out of the fight. Beth fired three more times.
“They told me later that my first bullet had hit him in the stomach and grazed his liver,” Beth said. “He got up and ran. I don’t know how he did that with four bullets in him.”
It turned out Hardy was making a run for a waiting car in which he had an accomplice behind the wheel. Beth followed after the fleeing robber and fired her last two rounds at him. The car sped away and the fight was over.
Beth threw her empty gun into the trunk and grabbed her badly bleeding husband, and then raced down the road to a hospital. Unknown to her, neighbors had already called the Sheriff’s Department and a patrol car arrived minutes after the Greers sped away.
One Less Criminal
To Beth’s great relief, Tommy’s wound was only superficial. Hardy wasn’t so lucky. Though he made it to the hospital, and lived long enough for the emergency room staff to begin preparing him for surgery, Hardy died on his way to the operating room.
If anybody shed a tear for the late Bobby Hardy, it wasn’t Sheriff Payne or any of his deputies.
“He had only been out of the pen a short time. He was a predator,” the veteran lawman stated matter-of-factly, “simply a predator.”
Payne took a special interest in the Greer case. Beth said that in the aftermath, she spoke on the telephone several times to the sympathetic sheriff, with whom she traded cell phone numbers so she could reach him.
“Oh my goodness,” she said. “Sheriff Payne, he was a rock for me. He sent a car out to our housewe live on a dead end streetevery shift. That made me feel so good. He has been extra, extra good to me and my husband since this happened. I can’t say enough good about George Payne.”
While the authorities still had Mrs. Greer’s revolver, she now is armed with a similar .38-caliber Smith & Wesson belonging to her husband. When she gets her own firearm back, she plans to load it with hollowpoints instead of ammunition with round nose lead bullets.
“I don’t go anywhere without a gun,” she said defiantly. “I’d hate to think what would have happened had I not had that gun in my car that night. I was able to get through this and I will never hesitate to use a gun again.”