SHANNON — At 80 years old, one could argue that brick-mason Stedford Collins should be retired. After suffering five bullet wounds and an additional five stab wounds when he was attacked last month at his home, one could also argue that he should be dead.
That makes two arguments that Collins doesn’t see himself losing.
After 1 a.m. on May 5, a Monday, a woman named Christian Arron Locklear, 21, from Childrens Road, Red Springs, called his phone. According to Collins, Locklear wanted to come see him. Collins invited her to his home, off of Old Lowry Road, where he lives alone.
Upon noticing that she had been dropped off, Collins said he became suspicious.
“She said that was her sister [that dropped her off], but I didn’t feel satisfied about that,” said Collins, whose wife passed away in 2001. “I laid up on the bed and she said I am going to go get a drink.”
According to Collins, Locklear used that opportunity to unlock and open his front door, after which Collins says, Locklear claimed that she needed to call her sister. He believes that was when Locklear phoned 21-year-old Frank Alexander Taylor, of Hendryx Drive.
A few minutes later, Collins alleges that Taylor came through his front door and immediately began firing a .38-caliber handgun in his direction.
Collins was struck in the right calf, upper thigh and hip, before he managed to grab the gun’s barrel. In the struggle, Collins says, he was shot in the right ring-finger and grazed on the right side of his head.
Collins said he wrestled the gun away from Taylor, but found it to be without bullets. He then alleges that Taylor pulled out a knife and stabbed him three times in the right side of his chest, once under his right armpit and once in his right forearm.
“When [the bullets] were hitting me, all I could think about was getting my hands on him,” Collins said. “I didn’t notice the pain, but when the bullet hit my head, there was a numb feeling across that side of my head.”
Collins said that he again was able to take Taylor’s weapon, at which point Taylor and Locklear fled.
His upper right thigh bone having been broken by one of the bullets, Collins collapsed and called 911.
“If my leg hadn’t broken on me I would have killed him with my bare hands,” Collins said. “ … The only reason I am here today is because the man upstairs is with me.”
At no point, said Collins, did he believe that he was going to die. He remained conscious during an hour-long helicopter ride to UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill and says that one of the emergency workers told him that they expected him to die after seeing the amount of blood he had lost.
Collins’ nephew, Terry Collins, learned that his uncle had been shot the following morning. After the loss of his father eight months earlier, Terry said that the loss of his uncle would have been the last thing his family needed.
“We were just glad he didn’t get killed,” Terry said. “We were just glad it wasn’t worse than it was.”
According to Terry, his uncle’s resilience is only surprising to those who don’t know him.
“We went to Chapel Hill and they were amazed that he wasn’t on any medications or anything,” Terry said. “He can pretty well handle himself. He works. He gets out every day.”
Taylor was arrested the same day as the assault and Locklear was arrested on May 9. Each was charged with first-degree burglary, robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury and conspiracy. Taylor was jailed with a secured bond of $50,000, with an additional $25,000 bond added on May 20, after having conspiracy added to his list of charges.
Locklear has been jailed under a $60,000 secured bond.
“I had known her a while, pretty much always seen her around, but something told me not to trust that gal,” Collins said. “That won’t be happening anymore though, you can bet your bottom dollar on that.”
After a two-week hospital stay, Collins is home now, recovering. He credits his survival with the fact that he has unfinished business.
“I always figured people had sense enough not to fool with me,” Collins said. “I ain’t never bothered nobody.”