How much do like animals? Would you call the RSPCA if you saw a cat in dire need? Maybe you’d even run into the middle of the road to save a dog in distress or sprint into a burning house to save your pet mouse Roger.
Well, no matter how much you love your animals, we’re betting you don’t feel quite so strongly about the subject as 72-year-old former Marine Stanley Pannaman does. He literally took a bullet to save a bunch of sea turtles.
The Florida-based Pannaman volunteers with a wildlife group that makes sure nobody bothers the nesting sea turtles in the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea area of the state, and ensures the babies make it to the ocean once they hatch.
Last Friday night however, the job got a whole lot more intense than usual, when Michael McAuliffe, a man with “an odor of alcohol so pungent [you] could smell it 20 feet away” began hassling the volunteers and cursing at Pannaman and friend Doug Young on their arrival at the beach.
According to Pannaman, who was wounded in military action and has carried a firearm for 50 years as protection, “99.9% of the time” people leave the sea turtles alone after learning that they are a protected species and that it’s actually illegal to disrupt their nest.
McAuliffe did not fit into this category though, and began heckling Pannaman when he entered the beach, saying: “I hate sea turtle people. You f*cking bother me. Get out of here!”
When Pannaman and Young continued on to the beach to guard the nest, along with another man and his 12-year-old daughter, McAuliffe followed them, and began removing sticks and tape from the area.
The 72-year-old veteran told the man in question he was breaking the law, but McAuliffe is alleged to have then taken a swing at him, moving Pannaman to reach for his own personal .32 caliber pistol in an attempt to scare him off.
Pannaman then went to call the police, but was unable to after McAuliffe jumped on him and began punching , also fending off attacks from other volunteers. He then grabbed Pannaman’s gun thinking it was a flare gun and pointed it at the veteran’s chest.
Despite being told it was a real gun, McAuliffe fired it at Pannaman anyway, catching him in the buttock as the volunteer turned away. Upon realising that the gun was real, McAuliffe is said to have been heavily surprised and asked Pannaman if he was alright, which, of course, he was not.
He would later recover in hospital though and be back on his feet under a week later. McAuliffe is now in Broward County jail for charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, battery on a person 65 or older and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
The sea turtles meanwhile, are said to be putting together a surprise welcome home party for the 72-year-old.