Distracted. That's what Holly Mong felt at 6:30 on the morning of January 31, 2006. Distracted.
And in a rush.
Only one day after getting off probation, the Jersey Village, Texas, police officer was scheduled for in-service training for a new computer system and was already late getting out the door when she realized that she'd forgotten money for the toll road.
Doubling back inside her residence, Mong grabbed some change from a jar she kept in her home office, then made a beeline for her Jeep Liberty parked a mere 20 yards from the door of her apartment.
She'd just gotten into the vehicle and no sooner closed the driver's side door than it flew back open.
A large man wearing black gloves and a stocking cap mask stuck a gun in her face.
In that split second, Mong was no longer distracted.
Held at Gunpoint
A second man, also decked out in all black, opened the back door of the Jeep and jumped into the right rear seat. The only words that Mong could muster were, "Oh, my God."
"Shut the f__k up!" the man in the driver's seat barked.
Mong's mind raced. Where did these men come from? Surely, her state of distraction couldn't have been so all consuming that she missed them.
She suspected that the early morning darkness and the lack of lighting around the apartment complex—something that her fiancé had lobbied hard to have corrected—conspired to prevent her from seeing her attackers. She also figured they had hedged their bets further by lying in wait beyond a grass knoll, a drop-off that would have concealed anyone below her visual plane.
For a second she considered the possibility that they might have targeted her because of her job, but quickly brushed the idea aside. She was thankful that her attire—navy blue zip-up sweatshirt with a hood, tank top, and jeans—didn't scream "cop."
But Mong's choice of garments was only a small comfort. In the overall scheme of things, she knew there were several things working decidedly against her.
If the first man was armed, it was a safe bet the second was, as well. And the sight of duct tape in the first man's non-gun hand only strengthened within her a growing certainty of their intentions.
They were going to kill her.
A Slim Hope
The thought was horrifying. Even more so because Mong knew she might be murdered with her own sidearm, a 9mm Springfield XD that was in a leather purse beside her on the passenger seat. Also inside the purse was her police ID, a virtual death warrant.
Mong knew that the gun in her purse was her only hope for salvation. She moved to the front passenger bucket seat, and slid her hand into her purse grabbing the pistol.
With the gun in her hand and concealed from view, Mong figured that if fortune truly favored the prepared, she had a fighting chance, for she was conscientious about carrying her double-action sidearm with a full magazine and one in the chamber.
All the same, she knew she couldn't hesitate and fixated on a singular thought.
I'm going to shoot fast or I'm going to be dead.
Two Seconds of Hell
She did just that, catching her kidnappers by surprise.
With her first shot, a bubble descended over Mong, enveloping her, muting her hearing so that each subsequent round she squeezed off became a muffled report despite the closed confines of the Jeep.
Her first Golden Saber round grazed the driver's right arm and chest. A second entered his right arm near the shoulder as a third bore into the shoulder itself. A fourth tore into the man's head just below his right ear.
With her left hand on the seat for balance, Mong twisted her torso and rotated the muzzle from the driver to the rear seat passenger. She was firing fast.
The next two rounds missed. She kept shooting. And her bullets began to find their mark.
One grazed the back seat passenger in his left shoulder and neck. Another pulverized the left side of his nose. A final round took out his left eye socket.
A stillness settled over the scene. The only thing that moved was Holly's skin, shivering with the adrenaline that coursed through her.
For a stunned moment she sat, evaluating whether or not she could get out of the vehicle without either of the men still being a threat. Once she made sure that the two were either unconscious or dead, Mong jerked the keys from the ignition then fled for her apartment.
She met her fiancé, Shawn Horton, at the door. Shawn, also an officer with the Jersey Village Police Department, had his own sidearm in hand in response to what he thought was a home break-in. Mong quickly related what had happened and Horton ran outside to cover the suspects, pending the arrival of backup.
Dead at the Scene
As officers descended upon the scene, they found Mong unharmed. The same couldn't be said of the men who attacked her.
Already wanted in connection with a sexual assault at the time of the attempted carjacking, the suspect in the rear seat, Cordale Stubblefield, was pronounced dead at the scene. Stubblefield was also responsible for the gun wielded by the driver-side suspect; he'd stolen it from a customer's car at the tire store where he worked.
Formidably strong, Stubblefield had been conscientious about working out and taking creatine supplements. Unfortunately for him, no amount of body building could make him bullet proof.
The driver, Christopher Wayne Yell, survived the shooting. But he was left with no bone on the lower left side of his head. If he were to be struck even by a fist in that area, he would mostly likely die. He lives with perennial nightmares and cannot stand for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Like Stubblefield, Yell was no stranger to criminal activity. At the time of the attack on Officer Mong, Yell was on probation for a home invasion robbery. He ultimately received an 18-year sentence for violating probation plus a consecutive 18-year sentence for aggravated robbery against Mong.
Some 45 minutes after the shooting, a sergeant on the scene took note of a car parked across the parking lot, approached on foot, and peered inside. There he found a 20-year-old man scrunched down in the back seat. The would-be drive-away man explained that he'd hunkered down and hidden to avoid getting shot. He was then taken into custody without incident.
A New Mind-set
Mong admits that she was not aware of a threat in the seconds preceding the incident because her mind was on other things.
"I wasn't paying attention," she reflects. "I was worried about running late. When you're in your comfort zone at your house, you don't think anything like that is going to happen to you. I didn't even notice them coming up, even when they were coming up behind my vehicle because they walked across the parking lot and I was parked face in. They walked to either side of my car. I didn't even notice them until they were up to the driver's side of my door. I was completely not paying attention."
When asked if she experienced any post-shooting anxieties, Mong says, "I never really had any concerns about if what I did was wrong because I knew they were going to kill me. I was in fear for my life, so I never had any fears about, 'What if I'm going to jail for this?' or anything like that. They came to me. They sought me out. So shame on them. They were the ones that did it."
Mong doesn't necessarily believe in precognition, but she says a nightmare she experienced before the shooting could have been a warning that something bad was about to happen.
"The night before this happened, I had a dream that I was on duty and went into a convenience store that was being robbed and I ended up shooting the robber," she explains. "I don't know if that's just coincidence or what that is. I've had dreams like that a couple of times before, but that one was the most vivid ones that I ever had. I didn't honestly think anything of it when I got up and started getting ready for work. I didn't think that anything like that would ever happen to me."
That nightmare would not be the only cause for Mong losing sleep. A few weeks after the incident, she battled insomnia.
She also became anxious whenever she had to leave the house at night. "It was hard for me to go anywhere by myself," she says. "My fiancé went with me everywhere I went. I did not want to go anywhere by myself. We ended up having to move into a different apartment inside the same complex, so I was never again at that apartment by myself."
Since the shooting, Mong has become vigilant on multiple fronts, both in terms of mind-set and daily rituals.
"I don't think that I would have done anything differently," she says. "I think that I had a pretty good outcome from all this. I was not hurt in any way. I'm 10 times more aware of my surroundings now, whether I'm getting into my car at my house or in a parking lot somewhere going grocery shopping or whatever. I'm always looking to see if there's anyone sitting in a car or what they're doing. Even when I'm driving down the road, I'm looking at people next to me because you hear about all the times that people are sitting at a red light and people coming up and pushing them out of their car and stealing their car. I'm just more aware of my surroundings now."
Finally, Mong says that she is more diligent about carrying her sidearm off duty. "I carry a gun with me everywhere I go. I carried the gun a lot before. I think it was probably just because I was new and could carry it around," she reflects. "But now I don't leave my house without carrying one."