It seems like so many things in life, good and bad, are determined by being in the right or wrong place at the right or wrong time. Call it luck, fate, or random chance, it plays a huge part in what happens in our lives.
On an autumn day in Pennsylvania, a number of people were walking along, minding there own business. Some would quickly learn that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, while for one of them, the opposite would be true.
It was a typical Wednesday in mid-September. Grey clouds lazily crossed the sky over the green hills of the Pennsylvania State University campus. At around 9:30 in the morning, students were milling about, going to and from their classes.
Brendon Malovrh was one of those students, casually going about his business. The 21-year-old senior was walking through the grass by the HUB-Robeson Center, taking a shortcut after his morning class to grab a bite to eat…
Chatting After Class
Another of those students was Melanie Spalla. She was also a 21-year-old senior. After her Spanish class, she spent a little time chatting with a classmate before making her way down the sidewalk, still wet from a bit of early morning rain.
About to Change
At the same time, Nicholas Mensah, a 22-year-old sophomore, walked by the Health and Human Behavior Building. None of them had any idea how much their hum-drum day would change in just the next few moments…
Pop Pop Pop
As he was walking along, Brendon heard an unusual sound ring out through the air. “I heard these very loud noises, like cannon fire, but at a higher pitch,” he said. Thinking the “pop pop pop” sounds were fireworks, Brendon started walking toward the sounds.
Taking a Closer Look
As he walked along, Brendon noticed a bit of smoke coming out of the bushes. It looked like he found the spot where someone was setting off fireworks. Because he was “pretty much curious about all things,” went to investigate.
When Brendon walked the 25 or so feet from the northwest to the southwest side of the lawn, he saw something he didn’t expect. He saw a young woman kneeling in the bushes with a tarp beneath her. In her hands was a high powered 7mm Mauser rifle.
Setting Up Her Shot
Just a few minutes earlier, the young woman named Jillian Robbins spread out the tarp beneath her and set up her rifle. The 19-year-old had grown up close to the school but was not a student. The “pop pop pop” Brendon heard earlier was Robbins firing shots at passersby.
Two of her shots hit passing students. One hit Melanie Spalla in the back and exited her neck, killing her instantly. The second passed through the left side of Nicholas Mensah’s abdomen, knocking him to the ground. He was bleeding profusely as a student who had been walking right in front of him dragged him into a nearby bush.
Brush With Death
Two other shots came close to hitting two more students, William Mocker and Kerry Butler. Both students had their backpacks grazed by shots as they ran from the sound of gunfire. Neither of them realized they’d come so close to death until after they returned to their dorm rooms…
It was after Robbins had fired those shots that Brendon came across her. The two locked eyes and gave each other an instinctual nod. Brendon didn’t realize that Robbins had a gun in her hands until she turned and pointed it at his chest as she was reloading.
Without thinking, Brendon charged across the 20 feet that separated him from Robbins. Just as she finished reloading, Brendon grabbed the barrel of her gun. Pulling with all his might, he yanked it out of Robbins’ hands…
Unfortunately for Brendon, Robbins didn’t have just one weapon. After he’d disarmed her of her rifle, Robbins pulled out a hunting knife and took “a couple quick stabs at me,” Brendon said. In an instant, Brendon had gone from strolling along to disarming a shooter to being in a lopsided knife fight.
Once In A Lifetime
“I jumped backward. I have trained in martial arts,” Brendon said, “but I [didn’t] know the exact defense if someone’s stabbing in a downward, overhead motion with a knife. I was thinking, ‘Wow. This is the first time, and probably last time, I’m ever going to use this.’”
Once Brendon successfully evaded Robbins’ first couple of stabs, she got “annoyed,” he said. In moving forward and making another stab at Brendon, Robbins missed once more and accidentally stabbed herself instead. The knife had sunk about three inches into her upper leg.
As Robbins was momentarily distracted by the pain and shock of having stabbed herself, Brendon managed to grab the knife away from her. He took it and the rifle and threw them far away from her and began yelling to people on the sidewalk to call for the police. Then, he turned his attention back to Robbins…
Using His Belt
Brendon took the belt from his trench coat and moved toward Robbins. Rather than further attacking her or binding her hands, Brendon took the belt and tied it around Robbins’ leg above her knife wound in order to stop the bleeding. Robbins was stunned and had apparently gone into shock.
In no time after the shooting began, university police and the entire nursing department on duty that day showed up on the scene. They couldn’t do anything to help Melanie, who’d died instantly when she was shot, but they were able to rush Nicholas, the young man shot in the abdomen, to the nearby hospital.
Two university police officers were less than a minute away when they got the call about the shooting and they put handcuffs on Robbins, just a couple of minutes after the first shot was fired. The spot Robbins had chosen had a 40-foot area of concealment on a hill where she could see everything down towards College Ave. and no one could see her.
Decades in Prison
If Nicholas hadn’t been walking where he was, it would have likely taken much longer to find and stop Robbins. She was charged with third-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder. After pleading guilty to all charges, Robbins was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison and will be up for parole in 2028.
Student’s Quick Thinking Saves Lives At Penn State is an article from: LifeDaily