From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 3, Number 19 - May 20, 1999
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

One of Donna' shots went through the front window and hit two gas pump hoses.

An Awful Night
Donna Steele's brave controntation with Boulder Store intruders.
by Trudy Fry

Racing to the door in her nightgown, Donna prayed for the best, but grabbed her .38 pistol so she was prepared for the worst. The worst is what she found.

Racing to the door in her nightgown, Donna prayed for the best, but grabbed her .38 pistol so she was prepared for the worst. The worst is what she found. Standing inside the store, and just outside the door to her home, was an intruder.

It was 12:45 a.m. last Saturday night, May 15, and Mrs. Steele, owner of the Boulder Store, had been awakened by the deafening foghorn blare of the security alarm.

With mind racing, heart pounding, and adrenaline rushing, Donna confronted the person who had violated her privacy. She aimed her weapon, arms outstretched in the typical "police stance" - just the way she had practiced.

The intruder turned and started to run down the grocery aisle. "Were there others?", Donna thought to herself. "Was this person trying to warn them?" A million questions rushed by in a heartbeat.

Donna shouted for the person to stop. He didn't. She fired a warning shot - the bullet hitting the ceiling furnace.

Donna points to the bullet hole in her furnance from her warning shot. Her next two shots weren't warnings.

The intruder kept running. Donna fired again, shooting to kill this time. The second bullet found it's way between the rows of merchandise and exited through the front window.

She pulled the trigger once more. The third and final shot ripped through the front door and pierced two of the hoses at the gas pump.

The intruder ducked through the broken glass of the front door and jumped into a waiting vehicle as it sped away toward Pinedale.

Mrs. Steele, extremely shaken, dialed 911 and informed the dispatcher what had just happened. She described the getaway vehicle. While she waited for law enforcement to arrive, Donna called her son.

She was still holding the gun when Burke arrived. Burke found his mother visibly upset. He took the weapon, and tried to comfort her.

On his way to the Boulder Store, a sheriff's deputy passed the vehicle described by Donna. He pulled the green car over. Inside were Crosby Davidson, Joshua Storrud, and two 17-year-old juvenile males.

The suspects were escorted back to the Boulder Store where Donna identified one of the occupants as the person who had broken into her store.

Donna nearly cried during our visit. She's still shaken by the experience.

Not only had the intruders broken the glass in the front door of the store, they had also attempted to break down two other doors leading into the building. They had tried, unsuccessfully, to kick the doors in and had used a piece of cement to break the door windows.

According to the police report, they told the sheriff's deputies they were looking for "beer."

While Mrs. Steele related the awful events of last Saturday night, raw emotions of fear, frustration, hurt, disappointment, and sadness were ever present. She nearly cried at moments. She's still shaken by the experience.

However, Mrs. Steele has managed to keep her sense of humor. Donna shared that one of the first things she told her sister was, "I shot the furnace."

Donna is a mother at heart, always looking for the good in every kid. After long consideration, she contacted the young intruders' parents with a suggestion. With their parents' permission, these four boys will arrive at Donna's place at a specific time. They will bring along rakes, shovels, and wheelbarrows and will help Donna with some of the work around her "place".

The young men will work cleaning the barn, corrals, sheds, and other areas just behind the store. The four boys will be moving a lot of manure in an up-close and personal manner.

Mrs. Steele believes simply sitting in a jail cell or doing "community service" work isn't the kind of punishment that fits this crime. "I want them to know that what they did affected a living, breathing, person who has a heart and feelings," she said. "This isn't about just breaking into a store. This is about hurting somebody."

Donna says she holds no animosity or resentment towards the boys. In fact, she hopes they will get their lives straightened out. They are each worth saving and it's not too late, she concluded, tremor in her voice and misty-eyed.

One of her own children had once told Donna she had a reputation of being the "meanest mom in Boulder." The reputation was misplaced. Mrs. Steele is a tough, but caring, mother - no matter whose child it is.

In addition to working for Mrs. Steele as punishment, the four intruders still face the county prosecutor and criminal justice system.

Photo credits:  Cris Paravicini, Cris Paravicini, Cris Paravicini

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