Grandma saves deputy

Rev. Dr. Gale Smith, a pastor at the Antelope Valley Metropolitan Community Church, was the first citizen to come to the aid of a female deputy who was being attacked on the side of the road on Jan. 31.

LANCASTER – On Tuesday, Jan. 31, a grandmother of six was the first person to come to the aid of a female deputy who was being attacked on the side of the road on Avenue M in Lancaster. Sheriff’s officials say the 63-year-old woman’s actions quite possibly saved the deputy’s life.

Ironically, Rev. Dr. Gale Smith was not even supposed to be on Avenue M that day. Around 1 p.m., Smith had just left a furniture store, after browsing for furniture for her recently relocated church, and was headed to Big Tuna on 10th street west to meet friends for lunch. She says she normally takes Avenue L to 10th street in order to get to the restaurant. But Tuesday was the day she made the split second decision to do something different.

“For some reason I said ‘nah, I don’t want to make that loop,’ so at the last minute I just turned and went down M, so that’s how I ended up on M,” Smith said.

As she approached the Antelope Valley Courthouse, Smith says she saw a man sprinting down Avenue M.

“I’m thinking ‘that’s odd, he’s not even in jogging clothes,’ but I wasn’t thinking anything of it until a Sheriff’s car came up on the side of me and put on its lights,” Smith said.

Smith said she saw a small female deputy get out the car and say something to the man; then she couldn’t believe what happened next.

“He just turned and attacked her,” Smith said. “She was saying ‘he’s trying to get my gun! He’s trying to get my gun!’ and at that point I really felt that the officer’s life was in danger and there wasn’t anyone around at that time.”

Smith said she wasn't afraid to intervene because she knew God would take care of her.

Smith said she didn’t think twice about hopping out her car to help.

“As I was approaching, I said ‘if he gets that gun out, she’s definitely dead, and I’ll probably be dead too, so that’s not gonna happen,’ so I approached,” Smith said. “I’m hollering ‘help! help!’ as I’m running toward them.”

“Then the grandmother in me came out,” Smith continued. “I said ‘Son, you really don’t want to do this,’ as I was approaching him, and for a moment he stopped and looked at me, and that was all I needed.”

Smith, a former correctional officer and Air Force veteran, said her training from more than 30 years ago kicked in.

“I managed to put my arm around his neck and his left arm,” said Smith, demonstrating the position. “Like a carotid restraint.”

She said she struggled to subdue the man along with the deputy until two more men ran into the fray to help.

“He was pretty strong… It took all of our strength just to get him down to the ground until the other cops came,” Smith said.

When backup arrived, the man who attacked the deputy, 24-year-old Danny Wright, was tasered, cuffed, and arrested.

Sheriff’s officials say, prior to attacking the deputy, Wright went on a rampage that included assaulting a pastor and trying to carjack two vehicles. Wright is being charged with attempted murder on a police officer, carjacking and assault and remains in custody on $1 million bail.

The female deputy and all parties involved in the brawl, including Smith, escaped unscathed.

Smith says the fracas probably took all but a minute but seemed to go on forever at the time. She says she never once feared for her safety during the struggle even as she saw the gun within the man’s grasp.

“My faith gave me the strength and the lack of fear,” said Smith, a pastor at the Antelope Valley Metropolitan Community Church since 1996. “I wasn’t really fearful because I knew that God was going to take care of it… God was putting angels around me to do it.”

  32 comments for “Grandma saves deputy

  1. April 14, 2012 at 7:47 am

    For all the haters, of people of different color, this is the type of African American that exists in this Valley. It’s so sad when everyone is lumped together.

    • dealwithit
      April 15, 2012 at 9:49 am

      Attention moron…
      It’s not that we hate people of different colors, it’s that we hate ghetto rats of ALL races! YOU are the only idiot lumping everyone together!

  2. Gary Erickson
    March 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Hello Gale,
    Cheryl Queen had wrote me on your adventure…pretty amazing! Great Job but more importantly, what a great life you living! 6 grand children…retired from the Air Force and now a Senior Paster of a Church..Wow!! Cheryl couldn’t have labeled you any better, “A beautiful Lady” Thank you for your effort in helping that police woman. Your a great example of what it takes to make a strong community. God Bless and always remember…. JMJ Your 8th grade classmate ’62 OLV

  3. Cheryl Mattingly
    March 29, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I am so proud to have know this lovely, stong woman from grammar & high school. She always had an infectious smile on her face and befriended everyone. After finding her again a couple years ago I am totally in awe of her accomplishments and grieved at her loss. Even though I have not seen her in person since high school, I love her dearly. Go with God, Gale.

  4. E SMITH
    March 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    good job Gale ( crime stopper), your nephew

  5. Matt Keltner
    February 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    The church that Dr. Gale Smith is pastor of (AV Metropolitan Community Church) was actually founded by Gay, Lesbian & Transgendered people. The church was established so that Gay, Lesbian & Transgendered Christians could have a place to gather and worship God after being kicked out of their own churches upon coming out.

    I wonder how many of our resident homophobes were aware of this?

    Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered people are God’s children and deserve to be treated with dignity, not subject to the unresolved fear and hatred of others.

    • S. Parker
      February 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      AMEN!! I agreed 100%!! Rev. Smith is a shining example of hope, tolerance and courage!! We can all learn from her…

    • William
      February 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm

      What I haven’t heard discussed much, if at all, is if the pro-Proposition 8 advocates maintain that marriage is a tradition based in religion for centuries, why can’t the government give its ‘blessing’ to a same-sex marriage performed by a church that supports them? You know, all the ‘freedom of religion’ stuff the right is always blabbing about. But, only when it serves their purposes.

  6. sandra Sherman
    February 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Congratulations and thank you for your service.

  7. Anna Carrillo
    February 16, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Gail your awesome how cool!!!!!

  8. W. Rainbolt
    February 16, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Awesomely courageous and selfless!!

  9. Cindy S
    February 14, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Awesome and awe inspiring. Bless you.

  10. Sandy Schmelzle
    February 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Way to go, Gail!

  11. LTJR7
    February 14, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    How awesome! WHat a blessing….

  12. Sherre
    February 14, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Amazing! God bless you!

  13. Joan Saniuk
    February 14, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Gale, you never cease to amaze me. Thank you for your courage. -Rev. Joan in Boston

  14. S. Parker
    February 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    I don’t know how I missed this wonderful and inspirational story until now… Rev. Smith, you are a remarkable woman!! I could just hear you in my head saying “Son, you don’t want to do that…” This story has truly brightened my day!! Kudos to you!!!

  15. Ivan
    February 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    WOW thats brave godmother, we better not mess with you.I love you godmother,my godmother T was there too.

  16. Debi Smith
    February 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    From the first day I met you I knew you had integrity. The Antelope Valley is a richer place with you in it. Nothing happens by mistake and I am so glad you were there to help! Let us all take a lesson.

  17. Stinger
    February 12, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    A long time ago, someone I knew well once told me that there are really only three types of people in the world: Sheep, Wolves, and Lions. You can really only be sure of which is which when something happens.

    The Sheep run away.
    The Wolves try to fleece the Sheep (in one way or another).
    The Lions turn to fight the source of the problem and defend the Sheep.

    Nice to see a Lion in action… :-)

  18. Shannon
    February 12, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    The thing is, this is no fluke. This is the kind of person Rev. Dr. Gale Smith is – for everyone. A true person of integrity.

  19. Joe P
    February 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    YGG! You Go Girl.
    Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon

    God Bless you.

  20. James
    February 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Praise the Luhhhhrd! Hallelujah!

  21. Yvette smith
    February 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    So proud of you sis-in-law you are truly the best.

  22. Maria G Grajeda
    February 9, 2012 at 8:55 am


  23. Stuart
    February 9, 2012 at 6:34 am

    I am happy to see that one of our citizens jumped into action when needed.
    Dr. Smith is the kind of hero that we all strive to be!
    Great job Dr. Smith!

  24. Melinda Quintanilla
    February 8, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” -Maya Angelou

    Nana mama to us all hero to the world! Me and the boys are so proud of you!


  25. Rose Joseph-Smith
    February 8, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Thank goodness – this world needs more citizens like you.

  26. Elaine
    February 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    You are an inspiration! What a brave and unselfish thing you did. Thank you!!!!

  27. Facts
    February 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    THANK YOU! You are a true Citizen Hero!

  28. Kat
    February 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    wow and wow !! thank you,kudos and God’s Blessings to you Dr. Smith.. wow you rock !! and thank you for your service ..

Comments are closed.