OAK CLIFF, Texas -- Michelle Martinez took a chance and punched her way out of an armed robbery early Thursday morning. Now, she and her family are living on edge in a Dallas neighborhood south of Oak Cliff that has them also packing handguns just in case.
"I'm not going to let it get the best of me,” Martinez told WFAA. “But right now I am, because I'm so scared,” she said as she began to cry.
Martinez made an early morning trip, walking across Wilton Avenue to Cowart Elementary School to deliver needed medication to her young son. As she left the classroom in a portable building on the north side of the school, a gray four-door Kia pulled up to the curb. The passenger got out, pulled a ski mask over his face, pointed a handgun in Martinez’s chest and demanded money.
"And he had a gun and he said ‘give me what you got.’"
Martinez told him she didn’t have anything. But with the gun pointed at her he began to pat her down, found $200 in her pocket and then grabbed her cell phone and smashed it on the sidewalk. Then she says the driver told the gunman to take her shoes too: a pair of expensive Nike high-tops.
"When he said her shoes I started punching him in the face. I punched him probably like four times,” Martinez said. "I was like I'm going to get some licks after him. I'm gonna let him feel a little pain. I might be a female but females know how to hit too."
"I know I hit him pretty good,” she said.
She says the gunman backed up, lowered his gun, got in the car and sped away with his accomplice. But Martinez says the encounter would have ended differently if she hadn’t been feet away from an elementary school, a gun free zone. Because both she and her husband keep handguns in their car.
"If it had happened in my car, it would have turned out differently, way differently,” Martinez said, claiming she’s fired in self-defense before, hitting a burglar climbing over her back fence, and a second time warding off a would-be burglar in her front yard.
"She's tough,” said her husband Eli Montoya who posted the incident on Facebook to warn his friends and neighbors. “She’s my hero,” he said. "I want them caught. Because he could have easily, by accident, squeezed that trigger."
"I'm on high alert. I'm on high alert. Everybody's a suspect,” Montoya said. "It's gonna come to an end. Them getting shot or they're gonna shoot somebody."
As for Martinez, she says she has no regrets for the punches she threw. She said it might not have been the smartest thing to do, but that it was a mother's instinct to fight back.
"I'm glad I didn't lose my life because I have my kids and my family,” she said.
A family she's willing to fight for if the next criminal is willing to risk a mother' rage again.