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Before he allegedly made the fateful decision to break into the home of an armed mother of two in Loganville, Georgia, Paul Ali Slater was spotted outside another Walton County residence.
There, according to Walton Sheriff Joe Chapman, he was confronted by the homeowner, who asked Slater if he was looking for someone in particular.
"He told her he was supposed to meet Coach Williams," Chapman said.
When pressed further, Slater jumped into his car and drove away, eventually ending up at Henderson Ridge Drive, where he was shot five times, authorities said.
The 32-year-old is reportedly clinging to life at Gwinnett Medical Centre.
Hospital officials declined comment on Slater's condition, but Chapman said over the weekend the alleged burglar, whose lungs, liver and stomach were punctured, had been placed on a ventilator.
Meanwhile, the mother of 9-year-old twins is being hailed as a hero in a story that's become a rallying cry for gun rights advocates concerned about possible new restrictions on firearms.
None of the new proposals would outlaw the .38 revolver used by the Loganville woman, who has declined interview requests.
She was home with her kids when police say Slater forced his way in their front door with a crowbar. Chapman said he likely did not think anyone was home because the woman's car was parked inside the garage.
But once inside, it is suspected that Slater overheard the woman talking on the phone to her husband. Chapman said that explains why Slater headed to the attic crawlspace, where the 37-year-old working mom was hiding with her children.
He was greeted by six bullets. Only one missed, but Slater was still conscious.
"The guy's face down, crying," the sheriff said.
The woman told him to stay down or she'd shoot again. Slater, unaware that she had emptied her chamber, obliged as the mother and her children ran to a neighbour's house.
The injured man - released from the Gwinnett jail in late August after serving six months for simple battery and three counts of probation violation - eventually made it out of the home and into his car, driving away before deputies arrived on the scene. He didn't get far.
Deputies found Slater bleeding profusely in a neighbor's driveway.
"I'm dying. Help me," he told them, according to Chapman.
On the way to the hospital, he was asked by a Walton deputy why he broke into the home.
"I was there to steal," he told the deputy, according to the sheriff.