Looking at Lulu Campbell’s bullet-riddled silver Toyota Tundra, common sense says the 57-year-old grandmother should be dead.
It’s impossible to tell how many bullets were fired at 2 a.m. Saturday morning on English Avenue, but what started as an armed robbery attempt turned into a full-blown firefight.
There are eight bullet holes in the Tundra’s hood, another in the front grill, and both front-seat side windows have been shot out. There’s also a single bullet hole through the front windshield, when Campbell shot back at one of the assailants. At least four of the bullets that penetrated the hood left secondary holes in the metal that’s right behind the driver’s dashboard. One of those shots took out the vehicle’s power brakes.
Campbell said she felt at least one of the bullets fired through the passenger’s side window pass right in front of her chest. There’s still broken shards of glass on the seats, on the floor and on the running boards.
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Campbell looked inside the cab of the truck and wondered aloud how she could have possibly survived the encounter.
Logically, she shouldn’t have.
But logic gave way to fate or simple blind luck that night. Campbell has her own belief: God himself and the spirit of her late son were watching over her.
Fight and flight
Campbell, a Warner Robins resident, was leaving the Shell service station she owns on Riverside Drive at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday to take her 15-year-old grandson home.
As she pulled into her daughter’s driveway on English Avenue, her grandson went inside. As an afterthought, Campbell said, she wanted to call him to make certain the house was secure.
“I wanted to call him and check (that) the house is regular,” said Campbell, her Filipino accent thick even after living the past 40 years in the United States. “I was looking for my phone.”
Campbell said she couldn’t find it, got out and checked the truck’s backseat to look for it in her purse. As she searched, she said she heard a voice in her head whisper to her to get into the front seat and lock the door. She immediately did, and she said that likely saved her life.
Seconds later, two men carrying guns approached her. One of them, later identified by police as Brenton Lance Spencer, 32, started to shout at her through the front passenger door to open the vehicle up and give him her money. The other, whom Macon police have identified as Dantre Horatio Shivers, 30, stood in front of the truck, also pointing a gun.
“(Spencer) shouted, ‘Give me the f------ money and open the f------ door!’ ” Campbell said. “I said, ‘Oh my God, somebody is going to rob me.’ I said, ‘Baby, you’re going to kill me anyway, so I don’t have to open it!’ ”
Campbell said she reached for her .38-caliber revolver just as Spencer allegedly fired at her. She felt Spencer’s bullet whiz by her chest as she fired back. Her shot hit Spencer in the chest.
“I hurt my back (pushing the seat back to avoid the shot),” she said. “I saw the guy in front of me, and I said, ‘Oh my God, there are two of them.’ I said I’m going to take one of them with me. That’s what was in my head.”
At that point, according to Campbell and the police report, Shivers allegedly started shooting at her. As she ducked, she said she fired wildly in front of the truck, forcing the second gunman to flee. Campbell said she didn’t consciously realize that she fired at Shivers until police later told her she did.
“They told me I was aiming the wrong way, that I was shooting upwards,” she said.
At that point, Campbell said she didn’t want to leave the safety of her truck and risk trying to make a run for the house. She drove the truck out of the driveway.
“I thought that the only way to protect myself was to run him down,” she said. “Otherwise, he would have gotten away.”
Campbell eventually was able to reach a 911 operator, and she was instructed to pull into the fire station on Pio Nono Avenue so that police officers could catch up to her.
After police released photographs of the two suspects, Campbell recognized them as regular customers at one of her stores.
When she reflects on the experience, she thinks the voice in her head that told her to get her purse and get into the front seat was that of her son, Wesley, a military intelligence officer stationed in Homestead, Fla., who died last month at age 35. Campbell said she still hasn’t heard a full explanation of how he died. Apparently, he fell or lost his balance and sustained a fatal injury.
Campbell said she owns several guns of all calibers, and given that she owns 13 convenience stores in Macon, Fort Valley and Columbus, she always keeps one on her hip and one in her car. Each store also has at least one gun.
When she talked to The Telegraph on Monday, the 4-foot-11-inch Campbell answered the door holding a .357-caliber revolver.
“I’m very nervous,” she said. “I carry a gun all the time.”
Spencer was still in custody Monday at The Medical Center of Central Georgia under 24-hour guard. He has been charged with aggravated assault and attempted armed robbery. Police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet said she legally can’t divulge Spencer’s condition but said he will be taken to the Bibb County jail as soon as he is released from the hospital.
Police were still seeking Shivers as of late Monday afternoon. Anyone with information is asked to call Macon police at (478) 751-7500 or Macon Regional CrimeStoppers at (877) 68-CRIME.
It’s not the first time Campbell has shot at someone.
She said her late ex-husband was a police officer and taught her how to shoot. She said that in her native Philippines, only men carry guns.
A few years ago, she almost was robbed while in Roberta.
“My husband was a cop and my son was in military intelligence. They trained me how to shoot guns,” she said. But somehow she missed that would-be robber.
Sometimes she didn’t miss. Some 35 years ago, she shot her husband and his mistress after catching them together.
However, no charges were filed against her.
“After that, my husband said ‘I wish I didn’t teach you how to shoot!’ ” she said.
Campbell said she is very religious and donates nearly all the profits from her businesses to various charities, including the Fraternal Order of Police, cancer research and Haiti relief. She said she believes that’s why God spared her during Saturday morning’s shooting.
“I said they can’t rob me of anything. It all goes to (charities),” she said.
Despite her experience, she said she hopes Spencer doesn’t die from his wound, but instead goes to prison. She said she doesn’t want Spencer’s mother to experience what Campbell has had to experience with the loss of her own son.
“I pray for him to be alive, because it really hurts to lose a child,” she said.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.