In a remarkable display of heroism, a 13-year-old boy successfully saved his sister’s life using his toy slingshot. The incident took place in Alpena Township, Michigan, on May 10. Owen Burns and his 8-year-old sister, Arianna Burns, had arrived home from school before their parents, embarking on what seemed like an ordinary day. Owen headed to his bedroom while Arianna ventured into the backyard to play.
The family’s backyard seamlessly extended into the nearby woods, giving the impression that Arianna was simply enjoying her time with friends. However, the tranquility shattered when Owen heard a piercing scream that propelled him to peer out of his bedroom window. To his horror, he witnessed his sister ensnared in a terrifying kidnapping attempt. A stranger had seized Arianna, muffling her cries, and was forcibly guiding her towards the woods.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Owen realized he had to intervene and protect his sister. Filled with adrenaline, he instinctively grabbed his modest $3 slingshot and hastily loaded it with a marble—the closest projectile at hand. Drawing back the slingshot, he aimed at the assailant and released the marble. Despite the considerable distance of approximately 200 feet between Owen and the attacker, the marble struck the perpetrator squarely between the eyes, disrupting the kidnapping endeavor.
Undeterred, Owen swiftly prepared for a second shot, this time employing a rock as his ammunition. His aim remained true, and the rock found its mark, striking the assailant in the chest. Owen’s use of the slingshot that day was purely coincidental, as he typically reserved it for occasional play. In fact, prior to the incident, the siblings were engrossed in after-school activities, with Owen engrossed in a session of “Call of Duty: Black Op II” on his Playstation 3 while Arianna pursued mushroom hunting in the garden and adjoining woodland. As their parents had not yet returned, the children found themselves alone at home.
It was during Arianna’s exploration of the backyard that the assailant, reportedly a 17-year-old boy, emerged from the woods and attempted to abduct her. Witnessing his sister’s distress and sensing the imminent danger, Owen felt a surge of fear envelop him. He firmly believed that had he not intervened, Arianna’s life might have been in grave peril.
Following the incident, the police were alerted and commenced an investigation, subsequently garnering media attention. Lieutenant John Grimshaw, one of the officers involved in the case, recounted the harrowing events to the public. The initial two shots fired from Owen’s slingshot enabled his brave sister to break free, prompting her to rush inside the house in tears. Seeking justice, Owen confronted the assailant, hurling expletives and shouting in his direction as the suspect fled. Determined to impede the escape, Owen hurled a baseball at the attacker, but narrowly missed as the ball sailed over the assailant’s shoulder. Undeterred, Owen retrieved his slingshot, preparing for a third shot. Unfortunately, the band snapped, striking him in the face and abruptly ending his pursuit.
The courageous actions of this 13-year-old boy prevented a tragedy and saved his sister’s life. Owen’s unwavering bravery and resourcefulness serve as an inspiring testament to the strength and selflessness of the human spirit.
Following the near-tragic event, Owen and his sister promptly contacted their mother, Maggie Burns, who happened to be assisting a family friend on her way home from work. As soon as Maggie received the distressing news, she hurried home and immediately contacted the police. The shocking incident left Maggie in a state of disbelief for several days, as attempted kidnappings were highly uncommon in their community.
Law enforcement officers apprehended the assailant, who had sought refuge at a nearby gas station. Subsequently, he faced charges of attempted felony assault, battery, and misdemeanor assault in the Alpena County District Court. According to the police, Owen’s brave actions effectively thwarted the attacker, ensuring his sister’s safety. Both his family and the authorities hailed him as a hero with exceptional accuracy.
The teenager responsible for the attempted kidnapping was incarcerated, and the Michigan State Police confirmed that he would be tried as an adult. Lieutenant Grimshaw praised Owen for his swift response, which “neutralized” the terrifying situation, and commended him for his remarkable courage:
“He truly is the one who…I believe saved his sister’s life or prevented something truly dreadful from happening to her. His ability to react so quickly is extraordinary, and he deserves commendation for it.”
The slingshot, an ordinary item purchased by Owen’s mother for a mere $3, became an iconic symbol of necessity and crisis in that crucial moment. Owen had only used it sporadically for target practice, aiming at old orange juice cans. Initially, Maggie found it hard to believe her son’s heroic actions, thinking such feats were only seen in movies. However, she was convinced by the police officers who confirmed the truth of the matter.
A few days after the incident, the Burns family joyously celebrated Arianna’s birthday. Maggie expressed her profound gratitude for being able to commemorate the occasion, which might not have been possible if it weren’t for her son’s bravery:
“We are simply elated that we were able to celebrate her eighth birthday that following Saturday. I mean, we could have been mourning at a funeral instead.”
Owen, through his actions, undeniably saved his sister’s life on that fateful day and rightfully earned the praise bestowed upon him. The situation could have easily escalated into a tragedy had he not been present with his sister while their parents were away from home.