To Protect and Unnerve

Dade's Crime Watcher of the Year is enthusiastic about his volunteer efforts. Some say he's a little too enthusiastic.

Subsequent run-ins were more daunting. One August evening Holley saw a disheveled man standing in the middle of South Dixie Highway. As he watched, the man landed a ferocious kick to the driver's door of a passing Audi. Holley yelled at the man, then tried to dial 911 on his cell phone as the man bore down on him. Rather than drive away, Holley unstrapped his gun, stepped out of his Civic, and fired a warning shot in the air. When the man kept charging, Holley says, he fired three more times but missed. A fifth shot wounded the attacker. Holley was detained by police but released when the man declined to press charges. "Everybody tells me I should have killed him," Holley comments in retrospect.

Five weeks later, two blocks from his house, Holley fired again. He'd been driving slowly behind three teens who were walking along the street and whom he suspected were car thieves. The youths suddenly converged on his car, one of them wielding a handgun. Holley got out and fired three shots over the roof of his station wagon. He missed.

He has never been arrested, but on two occasions police have confiscated his gun. Each time, he says, he purchased another one. He also considered calling the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association to file a complaint. "I blew my stack [a few times] and the police thought I was developing a violent personality," says Holley, who likens himself to the Bruce Willis character in the action movie Die Hard. "I'm McClane," he explains, "but McClane can shoot straight."

Metro-Dade police can't confirm Holley's accounts of the shootings, but Perrine-Cutler Ridge precinct lieutenant Eloy Nu*ez, who praises Holley's energy and leadership, concedes, "If he says he did it, he did it."

To represent him in the matter of the three graffitists and their peeved parents, Holley has retained Ellis Rubin. The famed defense attorney declines to discuss specifics but says that in the event his client is sued, "we're going to run with it."

Holley's words are a smidgen stronger. "If they file a goddamn lawsuit, they're going to be looking at both barrels," he vows. "I'm going to squash those people if it's the last thing I do."

He and Rubin are organizing a June 26 press conference to call attention to "the crime wave" in South Dade. They're also thinking about suing the county for failing to adequately serve and protect.

"If we had the police protection from our government that we pay taxes for, I'd be home watching TV," Holley asserts. "I'm not some kind of damn hot dog.

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