WOMEN - GUNS ARTICLE

 Date:    10-23-94 23:16 (Public)
 From:    Matt Giwer
 Subject: WOMEN & GUNS ARTICLE  (1)

   Original From: JOHN TAYLOR
  STOLEN              To: ALL
   STUFF     Date/Number: 10/17/94 - 0001075
              On: GUNTALK - 0019 - XPOST
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Re-printed without permission:  all errors, except as noted in brackets,
are a result of scanning/transcription -- JCT
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   On Aug. 14, police in Cheektowaga, N.Y., confiscated Polly S. Przybyl's
legally-owned handguns after she pleaded, unsuccessfully, that she needed
the guns to protect herself from her estranged husband.
   On Aug. 22 Lee S. Przybyl, 40, the husband, fatally stabbed her, shot
her in the head and then shot her mother to death.
   Eleven hours later Lee Przybyl took his own life with a shotgun blast to
the head. The couple's two children, a boy, 10, and a girl, 11, were
orphaned by the domestic tragedy.
   A police official said later he was "very comfortable" with the
officers' decision to disarm Polly, 36.
   Her sister, Mindy L. O'Leary, 40, was outraged at the police conduct. "I
resent that the police disarmed my sister," she told /Women & Guns/. "Even
though I personally don't believe in guns, my sister knew how to protect
herself with a gun. I believe she could have saved herself and our mother
had she been armed."
   The chronology of events, as outlined by Mindy, is as follows:
   After 17 years of a marriage that had turned increasingly sour as a
result of alleged mental and physical abuse by Lee, Polly decided to take
the children and leave her husband on Aug. 12. She left their Niagara
County home and stayed two nights at motels in neighboring Erie County.
   Lee traced her to an Amherst, N.Y., motel early on Sunday, Aug. 14, and
later phoned Mindy, saying he was carrying one of Polly's licensed handguns
(unlawfully - he had no permit). He said he was unsuccessful in attempting
to get Polly to return home with the children and he left the motel, taking
Polly's cherished red pickup truck. He left his Ford Explorer which Polly
later drove to nearby Cheektowaga, seeking refuge in the home of her
widowed mother, Gloria C. Mason, 63.
   Polly told her mother and Mindy, who lives there, too, that her husband
was stalking her.
Not long after, there were noises at the front door and the women saw Lee's
face through the glass and the doorknob turned, but the door was locked.
   "We thought Lee had a gun and we were terrified...the children began
screaming and Polly drew her gun and cocked it and I told her to call 911,"
Mindy recalled.
   "Polly yelled into the phone, 'I left my husband Friday and he's found
out where I am and he's trying to break into the house. I'm almost positive
he is armed but I have a licensed pistol - send someone right away.'"
   Mindy said several police cars responded within five minutes and
officers grabbed Lee, put him against a car and searched him, finding no
weapon. Then they told him to leave the area and went into the house to
check with the women.
   "An officer spoke to Polly and told her the situation was a domestic
disturbance with a potential for violence, and, what with children
involved, it would be better for all concerned if she would surrender her
firearms," Mindy said.
   She added that her sister became "frantic" at the request, stamped her
foot and yelled, "I can't believe you want to take away my guns when he
(Lee) has a house full of guns. I have a pistol permit and a legal right to
protect myself and my children...my husband doesn't even have a pistol
permit."
   Polly explained further that she had a federal firearms license, too,
and that three of her handguns were still at the Niagara County home
occupied by her husband who owned two rifles and a shotgun as well.
   Mindy said a policeman assured Polly that Niagara County authorities
would be alerted to pick up her handguns and the longarms from the Przybyl
home in that county, and insisted again that she surrender her guns.
   "But I've had to protect myself and my children," Polly countered,
according to Mindy, who added, "The policeman said, 'I'm sorry, ma'am, we
need to take your firearms."
   Mindy said Polly surrendered two .380 semi-automatics, a
Beretta and a [garbled] house to pick up from Lee Polly's other
registered guns, a .357 Colt revolver, a 9mm semi-auto and a .22
semi-auto, both Smith & Wessons.
   But Lee refused to surrender his rifles and a shotgun, insisting he had
committed no crime, had menaced no one and there were no legal grounds for
taking the guns. Polly, on the other hand, had been coerced by Cheektowaga
Police into surrendering her guns when there was no legal basis for their
confiscation, according to Mindy.
   [? missing ?]
   Polly followed Lee to the pool area while the others remained in front
of the house. There was a sound of scuffling and some yelling in the pool
area a few seconds later and the young boy ran behind the house and saw his
mother on the ground, Cole said. The boy's sister ran behind the house and
saw her father pick her brother up by the throat and then fling him to the
ground. Both children then ran to a neighbor's house while Polly's mother
ran to the pool area. Neighbors then heard several gunshots and saw Lee
leave in his Ford Explorer.
   Piecing together what had happened, Cole said Lee probably had a knife
and a 9mm  Marlin carbine secreted in the pool area. When Polly went behind
the house with him he attacked her with the knife. She had defensive wounds
on her arms and hands and another thrust penetrated her abdomen, cutting
the aorta - a fatal wound, according to Cole.
   In other words, she was first attacked with a knife, fending off blows
with her hands and arms before the fatal thrust was accomplished - a
perfect scenario for self-defense with a handgun. Upon seeing the knife,
she could have stepped back, drawn her gun and defended herself.
   Cole admitted that could have been the case but, on the other hand, he
said, Polly could have been surprised and would have had to have had the
gun drawn and in her hand to successfully fend off the knife attack.
   "If she had had [sic - JCT] a gun at least she and my mother would have
had a chance," Mindy countered.
   In any event, when the mother came on the scene Lee grabbed the rifle
and shot her twice in the abdomen, killing her. He also fired two shots
into the head of his wife's prostrate form.
   After fleeing in his vehicle he drove around the area all night, and
eleven hours after the murders, took his own life in a suburban parking lot
not far from his home. Lee had a cellular phone in his vehicle and Cole and
Lee's attorney had been negotiating with him for hours to surrender and
were few feet away [sic - JCT] from his vehicle when Lee shot himself.
   Cheektowaga police had told the media that Polly had voluntarily
surrendered her guns to them for "safekeeping," although a departmental
report indicated the firearms had been "confiscated." The report stated
that Polly was "very unstable" after Lee tried to get into her mother's
home on Aug. 14 but Mindy insisted if there was any "unstability" [sic -
JCT] it came after police insisted that she surrender her guns... "That's
when she stamped her foot and got real agitated."
   Cheektowaga Police Chief Bruce D. Chamberlin declined to comment on
specifics of the case (Polly's family is contemplating a lawsuit against
the police) but he said:
   "As a matter of course officers are advised to attempt to defuse
volatile domestic situations by removing firearms from the scene."
   The department's written  policy on domestic violence tells officers to
"check for weapons and secure same..."
   Investigative Chief Thomas Rowan was asked what the word secure meant in
the policy and he responded, "It means seize the weapons." He added he was
"comfortable, very comfortable" with the decision of the officers to seize
Polly's handguns. "Officers are trained to attempt to remove firearms from
potentially violent situations," he said.
   Apparently overlooked was the fact that in most violent domestics it is
the woman who is beaten, maimed or murdered. Unless police are required to
provide 24-hour protection for these women it would seem in a rational
society that they would be allowed to retain the means to lawfully defend
themselves.