By Gayne C. Young
When I attended St. Edward’s University in Austin, a fellow history major presented a paper on the ballistics of the slingshot David used to slay Goliath. He said that the stone used to knock the giant down probably hit with the impact of a .45 bullet. The professor found this interesting but gave the student no credit as the Bible isn’t considered a scholarly source and that’s what the assignment called for. The student argued against this ruling saying that his Christian beliefs were being violated. I found this hilarious as St. Edward’s is a Catholic school, the class was taught by Brother Eagan, and the student already admitted to me that he plagiarized the majority of his presentation from a physics paper his brother wrote.
I was reminded of this story and of the wallop a slingshot can deliver when I read about Owen Burns. The 13-year-old is rightfully being hailed a hero after successfully thwarting a kidnapping attempt on his little sister by plugging the would-be assailant with marble from his slingshot. The Alpena Township, Michigan resident told WWTV/WWUP-TV that on May 10, 2023, his eight-year-old sister said she was going outside to collect mushrooms while he stayed inside to play video games.
“I say, ‘OK, be careful.’ … And then, boom, something happens.”
That something was his sister screaming.
Owen didn’t think anything of the scream other than his sister was probably “messing around.” A second scream changed his mind. “So I looked out the window and saw her being abducted by a person and I’m like freaking out.” According to a Michigan State Police press release, the boy saw the attacker holding his sister and covering her mouth with his hand. He provided the following description on Good Morning America: “Her mouth was closed and he was hugging her on his chest. My sister kicked him and then he started running after her.”
Rather than shutting down at the terrifying scene unfolding in front of him, the teenage brother took action to protect his sister.
“So I grab my slingshot and open the window and I grab two things—a marble and a gravel rock or something.” Owen fired the marble first and pegged the attacker between the eyes at a distance of over 200 feet. The marksman then loaded a rock and pelted the attempted kidnapper in the chest. Owen told the Washington Post, “He was swearing. He was cussing…I was just lucky. He’s just a big target because he’s not like one Pepsi can.”
Owen’s sister was released and ran inside. Owen ran outside yelling obscenities and hurled a baseball bat at the injured aggressor only to miss. Remembering his previous success, Owen pulled out his slingshot for a third shot but the band snapped causing him to hit himself in the face with his hand.
The 17-year-old kidnapper wannabe was picked up by police a short time later with visible injuries to his head and chest. Authorities didn’t release the man’s name but did say that he was charged as an adult with attempted kidnapping, attempted felony assault, and misdemeanor assault and battery. State Police 1st Lt. John Grimshaw said Owen’s actions were “extraordinary” and most likely saved his sister’s life. “He really is the one that … I believe saved his sister’s either life or from something seriously bad happening to her…He should be commended for it.”
Owen agreed. “If I wasn’t out there and I didn’t hear her scream, then she was gone.”
Way to go Owen.
I just hope your slingshot did deliver the impact of a .45 to that thug.
Owen’s mom Maggie Burns found the whole story hard to swallow afterward, especially the part about her son nailing the attempted kidnapper at 200 feet. Police assured Maggie that the story was true and that the 17-year-old had the wounds on his body to prove such. “I just couldn’t believe it. It just didn’t sound real, until there was proof. It sounds like something you would see in the movies.”
At this admission Owen stated, “Mom, stuff in the movies can and do happen in real life.”
Good thing Owen was prepared.