- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 30, 2006

ATLANTA (AP) — A former Marine cook fatally stabbed one teenager and wounded a second while fending off a robbery by a group of youths armed with two guns and a pair of brass knuckles, police said.

Thomas Autry, 36, acted in self-defense when the assailants jumped him about 11 p.m. Monday, and he will not face charges, police spokeswoman Silvia Abernathy said.

“The victim, in fear for his life, retaliated with a pocket knife that he had,” Miss Abernathy said. “It was apparent that they were going to rob him.”

The girl he stabbed, Amy Martin, 17, was pronounced dead at a hospital. Christopher Daniel, 17, was wounded and was listed in critical condition at Atlanta Medical Center, Miss Abernathy said.

Mr. Daniel and three other youths — a 16-year-old and 17-year-olds Kendall Barksdale and Christopher Hayes — were charged with aggravated assault and armed robbery, police said.

The day after the attack, Mr. Autry, cigar in his mouth and bandage on his index finger, returned to his girlfriend’s apartment, where he had the locks changed. He told reporters that he doesn’t feel like a hero.

“The heroes are the ones fighting over there every day for our country and not getting any respect,” said Mr. Autry, who was stationed in Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Of the attack, he said: “It wasn’t admirable. It was either fight or flight. I tried the flight but they caught me.”

Mr. Autry said one of the attackers pointed a gun at him.

“My first instinct was to run, but they cornered me, so I had no other choice than to defend myself,” he said. “If I could rewind it back and not have it come out the way it did, I would, but I can’t.”

Police said the suspects, armed with a shotgun, handgun and brass knuckles, jumped on Mr. Autry and tried to rob him.

After the attack, the assailants ran back to their car and drove off.

Police found the suspects later at a hospital, where the teenage girl died. She had suffered a single stab wound to the chest, said Dr. Michele Stauffenberg, who conducted the autopsy for the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Mr. Autry suffered a cut to his hand and a bruise on his chest.

Police are investigating whether the youths were involved in other unsolved robberies in the area, but investigators have not connected them to any, Miss Abernathy said.

Police credited Mr. Autry’s military training with helping him fend off his attackers.

Mr. Autry said he was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1992 after serving for four years. The Department of Defense confirmed his service, but would not provide any details.


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