A pair of men ambushed a young woman who was near her car, confident they would have no trouble robbing her. However, they were soon the ones pleading for help when she turned the tables on them.
A Billings woman is being commended for her brave efforts in warding off two attackers who were intent on robbing her at her Montana home. Police say the 25-year-old woman was at her vehicle in an alley in the 2000 block of Cook Avenue just outside her residence when Christopher Marquise Sanders, 37, and Jose Luis Ochoa Angeles, 29, approached her with nefarious intent.
According to KTVQ, at around 12:45 p.m., the men were carrying out an attempted robbery. Moments later, the police received a call concerning an attempted robbery and rushed to the scene. Police described the incident on social media as a “possible robbery with shots fired.”
The woman told police that she came outside and saw Jose Luis Ochoa Angeles bent over the driver’s seat of her car. When she confronted him, Christopher Marquise Sanders suddenly grabbed her arm. Angeles then grabbed her left arm and a struggle ensued. She says that she feared they would kill her, so she grabbed the pistol she was carrying in her jacket pocket.
When police arrived, they discovered the armed victim holding a wounded Sanders at bay. Angeles had apparently fled the scene but didn’t make it very far. He checked himself in at a local hospital for emergency medical treatment. According to detectives, neither of the men is believed to have been armed at the time of the shooting.
Sanders was later charged in Yellowstone County District Court with felony attempted robbery. At the time of initial reports, Angeles had yet to be charged as he remained in the hospital for treatment of his injury.
“The report indicates the suspects attacked the victim at her car outside of her residence,” police Lt. Matt Lennick said in a statement. “The victim pulled her concealed firearm and both suspects were shot. Due to their injuries, neither suspect was arrested or charged immediately, but the case was sent to the County Attorney’s Office for review and official charges,” he said.
According to initial reports, police had not charged the woman, and it didn’t appear they would be doing so. However, it was reported that the decision would ultimately be left up to the county attorney.
“As far as the victim using a firearm for self-defense the law is pretty clear on people’s right to use self-defense when they can articulate a threat to themselves or others,” police Lt. Matt Lennick said in a statement about the incident. “Like all cases of this nature the case will be reviewed by the County Attorney’s Office and they could bring fourth criminal charges against the shooter if they deemed the threat didn’t meet the level of force used.”
Missoula Attorney Paul Ryan gave his opinion on the case, reiterating that each case is handled individually by the court. He explained that the law allows for “justifiable force,” but the location is also a deciding factor.
“There’s different standards depending on location,” Ryan said. “For example, there’s different standards if you’re in your house versus outside your house. There’s different standards if you’re defending property versus your person.”
According to Montana law, a person may use force only if they reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent serious bodily harm or death. To any reasonable person, the evidence points to the woman being within her right to use force. It’s terrifying to think that someone could potentially be charged as a violent criminal for defending their life.