Image: Kathleen Flynn for Times

Meghan Brown had fired her pink .38-caliber handgun only inside a shooting range. Even there, she said, she wasn’t very good.

The 2009 Miss Tierra Verde, 25 and a slender brunet, had trouble pulling back the trigger. When she did manage, she said she almost never hit the target.

That Saturday was different.

A man barged into her home, attacking her and beating her fiance. Adrenaline pumping, she fetched the gun from her bedroom. She trained it on the man, following his movements as he tussled with her fiance.

She saw an opening. She pulled the trigger. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop.

Albert F. Hill, 42, never got up.

“I’m glad it was me,” Brown said. “Not everybody else is that prepared, you know what I mean. Not everybody else is walking around with a loaded .38.”

The knock came about 3 a.m.

It was a friendly rhythm, Brown said — bop bodda bop bop, bop, bop.

It wasn’t unusual for friends to come by at such a late hour. One of Brown’s friends had stopped by a month ago at that time. The couple always offered one of their beds to people who were too drunk to drive home from a nearby bar. Brown said she went to the front door thinking it must be a friend.

“It still didn’t dawn on me that there was a guy outside waiting to kill us,” she said.

She unlocked the door. She said Hill pushed it open.

Hill, a tattooed, bald, 250-pound man, quickly overpowered her. He grabbed her from behind and wrapped his fingers around her nose and mouth, smothering her and snuffing out her screams.

“It all happened so fast,” she said.

She tried to squirm away, but couldn’t. He made a beeline for the master bedroom, as if he knew where he was going, Planthaber and Brown said.

Brown continued to flail. Hall moved his hand to her neck. Brown let out a scream.

Out came Planthaber. He went for the man.

“My No. 1 objective is to get this guy off my fiancee,” he said.

The two rolled around, breaking the dining room table and chairs. Planthaber said it lasted about two minutes. Hill had a good 80 pounds on him and was winning.

While they were fighting, Brown got her gun from the bottom drawer of her nightstand.

She trained the weapon on the man, but was unable to shoot because Planthaber was too close. She followed his movements.

“I had my gun drawn, focused in on him; as he moved, my gun moved,” she said. “I waited for my shot, and when I saw an opening, I fired.”

Source: Danny Valentine for the Times Tampa Bay.

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