Fwd: Shirley Allen speaks to reporter; highlights & article

Morgan Brown (morganbrown@hotmail.com)
Wed, 31 Dec 1997 10:59:08 PST


Hello!

Below is a forward of a posting regarding Shirley Allen, from the 
Healnorm listserve that I'm on and monitor, which may be of interest to 
you or others you may know.

Morgan
Morgan W. Brown <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Montpelier Vermont USA
Norsehorse's Home Turf  
-----------Forwarded message-----------

Date: Wed, 31 Dec 1997 02:01:11 -0800
From: Robert <jsweet@summit.net>
Via: healnorm@efn.org
Subject: Shirley speaks to reporter


A few highlights:  'They thought I was going to get in a car and go 
somewhere with them(when police first arrived),'' she said. ''My mama 
told me as a young girl not to get in a car with strangers and I wasn't 
about to start then.

'I knew if I didn't shoot him I'd be chewed up,'' Allen said. ''I
didn't know for certain it was a police dog. It came in with its teeth
bared and I knew it wasn't trained to lick my face.''

''All those men were out there and there was one woman in here. It was
a little overdone. I don't think it should take that many men to get
one woman to the hospital.

I may not socialize the way the medical people think I
should, but that's no crime.
   
----------------------------------------------------------------------Herald 
& Review URL: 
http://www.herald-review.com/

Article URL:
http://www.herald-review.com/03/allen1230-7.html 

Allen: It's peaceful here

Roby woman seeks quiet home life, says standoff was 'siege'
 
By SARAH ANTONACCI

H&R Taylorville Bureau Chief
 
Copyright 1997 Herald & Review
 
ROBY -- Shirley Ann Allen wants to get back to the peaceful, quiet
life she lived before it was thrown into an upheaval in September.
 
Allen, 51, spoke for the first time in a one-on-one interview Monday
morning, sipping coffee, in the cozy living room of her rural Roby
home. She declined to have a photo taken.
 
She said she looks at her 39-day standoff with police as a ''siege''
and herself simply as a woman trying to guard the home and property
she loves.
 
''I enjoy my home,'' she said. ''I've lived here 22 years. I've become
quite attached to it. I'm not as modern as some people who can pick up
and move somewhere else. I've become very attached to the land. It's
peaceful here.''
 
The green-gray ranch house, nestled among trees at the corner of a
country road, was the scene of the longest police action of its kind
in the state's history.
 
On Monday, a blanket of snow belies what took place there last fall.
 
On Sept. 22, Christian County sheriff's deputies and Allen's brother,
Byron Dugger, arrived to deliver a court order demanding Allen go to
Springfield for a psychological evaluation.
 
Allen said Monday that deputies waited until she was halfway out of
her house and on the way to her mailbox before they pulled up. She
said they were in an unmarked car and without uniforms identifying
them as deputies.
 
''They thought I was going to get in a car and go somewhere with
them,'' she said. ''My mama told me as a young girl not to get in a
car with strangers and I wasn't about to start then. They made me
distrustful to begin with.''
 
Allen said the whole situation could have been averted if they had
approached it differently.

''They broke down the door, broke windows, threw in tear gas,'' she
said. Allen protected herself against the tear gas by wetting a towel,
putting it on her head and spreading lotion on her skin. It was
something she believes she picked up from watching television.
 
''Instead, they could have knocked on the door and given me the piece
of paper to read like a decent human being. I didn't think we lived in
a country like that. I thought we were decent people. I think we still
are, but some people don't operate that way.''
 
Roy Wilbur, chief deputy with the sheriff's department, said the first
car to arrive at Allen's house was unmarked and carried two deputies
out of uniform.
 
A second, which arrived within a minute, was marked and had a
uniformed officer. Wilbur said deputies identified themselves and
tried repeatedly knocking on the door to tell Allen who they were and
that they had a court order.
 
''She didn't respond,'' he said. Deputies tried for two to three hours
before breaking down a door.
 
''We told her what we were going to do each step of the way,'' he
said. ''We could have captured her once when she came onto the deck,
but she had a gun and I didn't want to lose any of my deputies.''
 
When deputies realized they weren't going to get the order served,
they called in the State Police. Until Oct. 30, State Police tried
various tactics to lure Allen from her home.
 
A negotiator talked to her using a bull horn; police attached
listening devices to her windows; played Barry Manilow and other types
of music to soothe her; family members tried to talk her out; and,
then police simply backed off.
 
The family members, she said, she could hear but not see. And, the
music, Allen did not find soothing. She prefers big band and
classical.
 
Allen shot at police on three occasions. All of which, she said, were
in an effort to protect her home.
 
''I knew I didn't have the right to shoot at anyone unless they were
trying to get into my home and I tried to keep it like that,'' she
said.
 
On one occasion, Allen shot a police dog as it entered the house
through a sliding-glass door in her kitchen area.
 
''I knew if I didn't shoot him I'd be chewed up,'' Allen said. ''I
didn't know for certain it was a police dog. It came in with its teeth
bared and I knew it wasn't trained to lick my face.''
 
She also was shot at -- once with bean-bag bullets, another time with
rubber bullets.
 
''I think my anxiety level was so high, I was almost to the numb
stage,'' she said. ''When you get shot at most people would be
frightened to death, and in some ways I was. But my self-preservation
got me to hide.''
 
Allen said she spent most days living in fear and trying to keep out
of sight of police. She slept in a narrow hallway lined on one side by
a bookshelf and hidden from any windows.
 
Unable to shower, brush her teeth or do dishes, Allen dressed in
several layers of clothing and wore coveralls, a heavy coat, boots and
gloves to stay warm.
 
She filled a cooler with water before police cut the service. She ate
the food she canned including applesauce with crackers and
yellow-tomato preserves. At one point, she began eating raw potatoes
which she believes supplied her with Vitamin C.
 
''It was terrifying. ... I didn't know if I was going to make it out
alive,'' Allen said.
 
''All those men were out there and there was one woman in here. It was
a little overdone. I don't think it should take that many men to get
one woman to the hospital. They should have gone about it in the right
way.''
 
The standoff ended Oct. 30 when Allen, for the third time that day,
stepped onto her porch. State Police shot her with rubber bullets and
took her into custody. She was taken to St. John's Hospital in
Springfield where she was put into the mental ward.
 
Later she was transferred to McFarland Mental Health Center.
 
In all, she was hospitalized 47 days.
 
Allen admits she refused treatment at the hospital. She spent much of
her time poring over the more than 500 cards and letters from
well-wishers around the country and Australia.
 
She said she hopes to get time to answer each one because it was their
words of support that helped get her.
 
''Being put in a mental hospital when you know you're not sick, and
knowing there's people out there who are watching and caring gave me a
certain sense of security and let me know I'd get back to a normal
life.''
 
During the stay, she racked up close to $50,000 in hospital bills and
legal fees. An avid reader, Allen said she might write a book to help
offset those bills.
 
Allen harbors no ill feelings toward her family, police or doctors. In
fact, she said, she'd like to sit down and talk with State Police
Director Terrance Gainer and Christian County Sheriff Dick Mahan.
 
But, Allen said, she hopes what happened to her can teach a valuable
lesson to many. She hopes people gain a better understanding of mental
illness, that doctors can better relate mental illness to the average
person and that police change their tactics in dealing with situations
like hers.

More than anything else, Allen said, she hopes the laws change.
 
''There has to be some reform in this area of the law and what it
takes to get a petition signed and how it's delivered,'' Allen said.
''Mental illness in this country has taken a backseat as far as being
helped by insurance carriers and everything else. We're kind of
punitive in the way we treat it.''
 
Allen faces one more hearing where a judge will decide whether she can
take care of her own personal business and be rid of her attorney who
serves as guardian.
 
She still is cleaning up her house. A back bedroom stinks of pepper
spray. A refrigerator-freezer is being aired out because food rotted
after her electricity was cut off. And she is unwrapping mementos she
stored away during the standoff so they wouldn't get broken.
 
Allen's house looks as if it's back to normal. An evergreen garland
hangs from the mantle. Her dark green carpet and wooden furniture
create a homey feeling.
 
A self-portrait hangs in the hallway where she took refuge from
police. The canned goods she didn't eat during the standoff line the
shelves of her pantry.
 
But, Allen said, she has work to do to repair damage done by police.
''Too many people were hurt, too much property damaged, too many
family ties destroyed by all this attitude from police,'' she said.
 
For Christmas, several people sent flower arrangements. Others,
including the tabloid television show ''Inside Edition,'' sent
cookies. Allen said the best present, though, was her release from the
hospital.
 
She said she's still in shock over what happened, but hopes, one day,
things will get back to normal. It will be hard, she said, since
hardly one detail of her life from the past eight years has not been
published or broadcast since September, but she's trying.
 
''I think there was a lot of misconception going around as to who I
was,'' Allen said. ''It's strange the way misconceptions get blown all
out of proportion. Pretty soon it's printed up in the newspaper that
I'm some person with a mental problem when, in reality, I was only
defending my property and myself.
 
''When people finally get the idea that I'm perfectly normal, it will
be better. I may not socialize the way the medical people think I
should, but that's no crime. I find it very peaceful to be alone
sometimes. I'm not anti-social, but I am perfectly capable of being
alone.''
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