James Dittrich was outside walking his dog for the last time that evening, little did he know, 2 criminals had selected their victim. As he was making his way up to his third floor apartment, he was attacked by 2 criminals who robbed him of his wallet and forced him into his apartment at gunpoint. Meredith Duffy, his fiance, was sleeping and unaware of the situation at hand. It didn’t take long for James to realize that by entering the apartment, he had put his fiance into great danger. One of the men found Meredith and sexual assaulted her. James was in the other, apparently unaware of what was happening to his fiance in the bedroom, was trying to make as much noise as possible to alert his neighbors. The rapist then grabbed Meredith out of the bed and threw her to the floor in the living room and demanded she emptied her purse. When she did, her cell phone slipped out and she felt that an opportunity had presented itself, and so did James.
So I reached up and I grabbed [the gun],” Dittrich said. “I couldn’t wrestle it free, but I knew, with both hands on it, I had control of it, and that was the opportunity that she needed to call. And I just, I really just hoped I could keep control of it for her to make that call.”
But when Dittrich grabbed the gun, the burglars attacked him, he said. As her fiance was beaten in front of her, Duffy was able to call for help.
“That was the absolute hardest part, was that when I dialed 911, they were just beating him so absolutely mercilessly and brutally,” she said. “And the one kept yelling, ‘Shoot him, shoot him, shoot him.’”
In the end, the attackers fled, but not before breaking Dittrich’ nose, both cheekbones, and the bones around one of his eye sockets. Both Dittrich and Duffy were rushed to the emergency room at University Hospital in Newark, where the drama of their horrific ordeal and resulting injuries happened to be captured on ABC’s medical docu-series “NY Med,” which airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET.
They feel safer in Ohio, they said, adding that their experience drastically changed them and their views on a number of issues, including gun control. Before, both didn’t feel the need to own a gun. Now, they are proud gun owners and keep a handgun in the bedroom.
“I didn’t want a gun. I specifically didn’t want one,” Dittrich said. “I was very much opposed to hav[ing] one, and I guess I got the realization that the police really can’t protect you. They can respond, and they can protect you once they get there. But, you’re on your own.”
Biggest lesson to be learned from stories like these:
1- It can happen to anyone at any time. Even when you feel safe, so be alert and be prepared. One of his first mistakes was not being aware of his surroundings. This ultimately put him and his fiance in HUGE danger. He went up 3 flights of stairs without noticing 2 suspicious men behind him, and led them straight into his apartment.
2- Cops cannot always be there for you. Not to mention, you may not even have the opportunity to call the police. James was VERY lucky that his fiance woke up and had access to a phone without putting herself in an even more dangerous situation. You CANNOT count on the fact that you can always make that call.
3- Guns can save lives. Sadly, I feel that a lot of gun control advocates have to see or experience things like this in order to believe it.
I absolutely hate to say that this couple was lucky but that’s exactly what it was. They relied on both police and their neighbors, which in the end just made them even more defenseless. He was lucky that he could grab hold of the gun and she was lucky that she was able to make the call. That doesn’t always happen that way. In the end, I am glad that they now see the error in their old ways.