SOUTH SALT LAKE — LeJune Timmerman said she felt bad that she had to use a pole with her American flag attached to it to defend her home from an attacker.
“I thought I’d get in trouble for ruining the flag,” she said.
But Timmerman said that wasn’t going to stand in the way of her fighting back against a home intruder who was assaulting her and her brothers.
“I took the flag pole and beat the hell out of him,” the 73-year-old Timmerman told the Deseret News. “He had me down but I whooped him.”
Timmerman also praised South Salt Lake police. If not for their quick response, she believes she may have been killed.
But officers did more than respond quickly to the woman’s house and arrest the suspected intruder. They also returned the next day to replace Timmerman’s American flag and the pole it was hanging on.
The incident happened about 8:45 a.m. Monday when police say Justin Scott Smith, 42, broke into Timmerman’s home near 900 West and 3300 South.
“I don’t know who it was, but he busted through our fence, jumped over it actually,” Timmerman said.
Before coming into their yard, she said the man was talking to the sidewalk and kissing it.
“He was goofy, and then he busted in my door,” Timmerman recalled. “It happened so fast. ... He was crazy.”
Smith walked through the front gate and onto Timmerman’s property, grabbed one of her brothers and pushed him to the ground, according to a police affidavit.
“The suspect then continued to assault the other male homeowner who came out by hitting him with his fists. The female homeowner came outside and the suspect also attacked her by grabbing a glass candle and throwing it at her,” the affidavit states. “The suspect assaulted the female homeowner by hitting her and grabbing her by the neck and (choking) her.”
Timmerman, however, was able to grab the pole that her flag was hanging from on her house, and used it to defend herself and her family members, according to police.
“She struck the suspect multiple times trying to defend herself and broke the pole,” police stated.
Smith then kicked in the door and entered the house, assaulted the family again, then went into a bedroom and laid down on a bed until police arrived to arrest him.
Timmerman said Smith “never talked or nothin’,” had an odd look in his eyes, and seemed abnormally strong, tossing both of her brothers — who are over 6 feet tall — around like they were nothing, she said.
“He had to be on something,” Timmerman said.
Smith was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, two counts of assault and criminal mischief.
The injuries to Timmerman and her brothers ranged from serious to minor. But Timmerman — who police described as “very patriotic” despite going through the traumatic experience of a home invasion — “was concerned because she broke her flag pole and the flag hit the ground. She did not want to desecrate the flag,” police said.
Officers assured her she would not face any charges.
“She had the right to defend her home and she did what was necessary with the resources she had,” said South Salt Lake police spokeswoman Danielle Croyle.
After the scene was cleared, Croyle said the officers started talking with each other and decided to take up a collection to buy the woman a new flag and a new pole. Tuesday, they went back to the woman’s house to deliver them.
“This is very healing for her,” Croyle said.
Timmerman admitted she was scared during the attack. And she was thankful for the new flag and pole. But she was also filled with a fiery spunk as she said she hopes she doesn't have to use her new flag pole to defend herself again.
“If it ever happens again, he’s gonna go down with me,” she said. “I’ve never had anything like this before. I’m too old for this.”