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Social Science Criminology

Go Ahead and Shoot Me! And Other True Cases About Ordinary Criminals

And Other True Cases About Ordinary Criminals

by (author) Doug Heckbert

afterword by Debbie J. Doyle

foreword by Howard Sapers

cover design or artwork by Rich Théroux

general editor Lorene Shyba

Durvile Publications
Initial publish date
Sep 2020
Criminology, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price

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Go Ahead and Shoot Me! is a collection of stories written by former probation officer Doug Heckbert about real people who have been convicted of real crimes and who have been on probation, on parole, or in prison. The title story is of a woman who shot her husband upon his insistence and who, like many other subjects in the book, have come to see their offences as being “pretty stupid.” Some stories might be described as ordinary crimes and some are stunningly extraordinary, but all stories show the human side of criminals that Heckbert worked with and came to know, not just the nature of the crimes they committed. By getting inside glimpses of offender’s backstories, motivations, and personalities, Go Ahead and Shoot Me! shows there is much more to an offender that just their criminal behavior. Says Heckbert, “I have always been guided by the mantra, “The criminal is not the crime.”

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Doug Heckbert, Author. Doug’s work experience includes: probation officer and prison caseworker with Alberta Correctional Services; parole officer with the National Parole Service; staff trainer and program director with Native Counseling Services of Alberta; and instructor with MacEwan Community College/University. Doug obtained Bachelor and Masters degrees from the University of Alberta and has taught courses to community groups and conducted research projects concerning offenders.

Howard Sapers, Foreword. Recently Howard Sapers completed two years as the Independent Advisor on Corrections Reform for the province of Ontario, Canada. In December 2018 he provided his final report on Institutional Violence to the provincial government. Between 2004 and 2016 Mr. Sapers was the Correctional Investigator of Canada. Mr. Sapers’ experience includes serving as the Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Alberta, an elected member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Director of Canada’s National Crime Prevention Centre Investment Fund and a Vice Chairperson of the Parole Board Canada. Mr. Sapers is an Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Criminology and a Visiting Professor in the University of Ottawa Department of Criminology. In 2016, he was awarded a Honourary Doctor of Laws from the University of Ottawa.

Det. Debbie J. Doyle (ret), Afterword. Debbie J. Doyle is a retired veteran of the Edmonton Police Service. During her career, she was seconded to the United Nations Peacekeeping force in Timor Leste and worked in the Vulnerable Person’s Unit. After serving two tours of duty, she returned to Edmonton, was promoted and worked in the Child Protection Section and the Internet Child Pornography section. After working in these three units for over ten years, and serving over twenty-five with the police, Debbie now enjoys retirement with her husband, Dan. She is currently writing novels and is presently compiling and editing, “After the Force,” the eighth book in the True Cases series.

Excerpt: Go Ahead and Shoot Me! And Other True Cases About Ordinary Criminals: And Other True Cases About Ordinary Criminals (by (author) Doug Heckbert; afterword by Debbie J. Doyle; foreword by Howard Sapers; cover design or artwork by Rich Théroux; general editor Lorene Shyba)

Excerpt from Chapter 1

"Sally: Go Ahead and Shoot Me"

A day or so later, I called Sally to book an appointment to see her at her home. The plan was that I would gather information about her such as age, finances, education, work record, health, marital situation, and the offence, then develop a case plan with her for the period of probation. The appointment was for two days time, at her home.
I arrived at Sally’s address in the north-central part of the city. As I pulled up in front of the house, I noted it was an older bungalow, about 1100 square feet with a well-kept yard featuring grass lawns, shrubs, flowers, and trees. The outside of the home was a combination of grey stucco and brown wood panels, in good condition. Nicely kept houses and yards were on either side of Sally’s.
I head to the front door which faced the street. The woman who came to the door introduced herself as Sally. I estimated her to be about forty years old, of average height, weight, and build. Once inside the home, she introduced me to Roger, her husband. He was about the same age as Sally, about 5–10?and 170 pounds, with slightly greying wavy hair. Sally led us through the front room into the kitchen where she offered coffee. I accept and we all sat down at the kitchen table; Sally, Roger, and me.
I started out the interview by explaining that the purpose of this meeting is to review the probation order, to be sure she understood what had happened in court, to gather information about her, and then to develop a case plan that covered what she needed to do to complete her probation.
As I worked through the probation order, phrase by phrase and condition by condition, Sally said she fully understood what probation was, and what she had to do. Sally relayed her information to me in a pleasant, easy-going manner with no hint of anger, no hesitation. Roger sat quietly at the kitchen table, listening intently to our discussions but not saying very much.
In response to my questions about their home, Sally told me that they had lived at this address for nearly twenty years. She worked part-time as a clerk in a downtown department store and Roger had worked for many years in a warehouse in the north end of the city. They had two children, both girls, who were doing well in high school. Both Sally and Roger had attended high school in the city and both reported to be in good health. I noticed the furnishings in the house are relatively new, so on the surface it appears that Sally and Roger were doing well financially.
I wanted to hear about the offence; but was is a matter to be explored with solemnity, tact and respect. Attempted murder is a very serious charge. When I judged that the interview was going well and we were comfortable with each other, I decided it was time to explore what the offence was all about.
“Thanks for all the information about your house, family, and work,” I said. “Now, can you tell me what the charge is all about?”
There is a long pause. Sally and Roger looked back and forth at each other, neither speaking nor displaying overt facial expressions. Eventually, Sally cleared her throat and began to speak. Roger just sat there at the table, quiet. Over the course of the next while, I listened and digested the scenario that had taken place right over in the next room.
“Well,” she said. “For years, Roger would go out for beers with some of the guys from work, nearly every Friday after work. He wouldn’t get home until eight or nine in the evening, and sometimes he was pretty drunk. For a while, I accepted this behavior and didn’t say a thing. He then started to come home later and later, saying he was hungry and horny. This really bugged me, but again I didn’t say anything. But it continued and I started telling him that I was not the least bit pleased that he came home drunk and demanding. He normally didn’t say much when I got after him, but he did not change. It just kept happening.”
“So this one time,” she continued, “about a year ago, he came home drunk and wanting sex. I had enough of being treated this way so I really lit into him.” When I asked her where this all happened she got up from her chair and pointed down the hall to the room we’d just walked through. “We were in the living room, just over there, she said. Leaping up from the table, she started re-enacted the scene as if was happening all over again.
“‘You son of a bitch!’ I yell at him. ‘You come home drunk and being a jerk, expect me to do everything for you. Well, that’s all gonna change right now; and I won’t be putting up with this shit any more. So, you get out of here and sober up!’
“I was furious and I don’t usually swear but I’d had it up to here with him!” she says, waving her hand across her throat. “He’s staggering around and slurs, ‘I ain’t going nowhere and you can’t make me. This is my house, too. What are you gonna do? Pick me up and throw me out?’
“Then he kinda laughs so I scream at him, ‘No. I know I can’t throw you out. But I’m so mad I could kill you’. He has this weird twisted smile on his face and says, ‘Oh, how you gonna do that? How you gonna kill me?’
“‘Well, I’ll shoot you!’ I yell back, mad as hell. ‘Oh, I see,’ he sneers at me. ‘And where’s your gun?’
“Well, you have your rifle downstairs. I’ll use that!
“Then he just snorts at me and says, ‘Do you want me to go get the gun? You probably don’t even know where it is!’
“‘Alright, asshole,’ I tell him. ‘You go get the gun!’ So he does.”
By her own account, Sally was enraged by this time. She’d had enough. The way she tells it, Roger staggered across the living room to the hallway, lurched his way down the stairs to the basement, found the storage room, grabbed the rifle (a 308 Wincherster he used for hunting deer) and stumbled his way back up the stairs to where she was waiting and fuming. Pacing back and forth across the kitchen, she carries on telling the story.
“‘Here, bitch’, he yells at me, hands me the rifle, and staggers back across the living room, leaving about eight paces between us. I sling the rifle over my shoulders for a second, all defiant, then I point it straight at him. ‘Where’s the bullets?’ I yell.
“‘They’re downstairs’, he says. ‘Want me to get them?’
“So I scream, ‘Yeah, asshole, you go get the bullets!’
“So he does!”
The way she tells it, Roger again staggered across the living room to the hallway, lurched his way down the stairs to the basement, found the storage room, grabbed the shell package and stumbled his way back up the stairs to where Sally was still waiting, and still fuming.
Sally explains. “When he comes back upstairs he says, ‘Here you go,’ and hands me a box of shells. He even opens the box and pulls one out, ‘You’ll need this,’ he says.
“So I hold the rifle in one hand and the shell in the other. I don’t know what to do next so Roger holds out his hands palms upwards like this,” she gestures, “and says, real sarcastic, ‘You want me to load it?’ So I say, ‘Sure,’ and he grabs the rifle, slides the cartridge into the chamber, slams the chamber shut with the bolt and hands it back to me. ‘There you go!’ he shouts. And then he staggers back to about eight paces away, like before.
“It takes me a couple of seconds to consider my move; should I or shouldn’t I, but I raise the gun up to my shoulder and point it straight at him. Then I pull the trigger. But nothing happens.
“Then he yells, ‘You stupid bitch! The safety is on!’ So he rushes over to me, grabs the rifle, flicks off the safety and back he goes, eight paces away and yells, ‘Go ahead and shoot me!’”
So this time she did! The rifle boomed and the recoil sent Sally staggering backwards a few steps, where she tripped over a chair and fell to the floor. The gun had jumped from her hands and skidded to a halt under a table. The bullet hit Roger in the left shoulder, passed through his body causing a flesh wound and slammed into the exterior wall of the living room.
Both Sally and Roger were stunned. Roger moaned due to the searing pain of his wound, and he grasped his shoulder. Blood slowly oozed between his fingers and he unsteadily sank to his knees, then toppled over onto his side. Sally started to sob uncontrollably.
After what seemed an eternity, Sally got up from the floor, went to the kitchen and sat down at the table. Roger crawled from the floor onto a sofa and remained in the living room. And this is how the police found them about twenty minutes later.
The offence part of this story ended here. The consequences continued.

Editorial Reviews

“Go Ahead and Shoot Me! is a significant contribution as it tells the other side of the story in the criminal justice system—not one many people are familiar with.”

— Dr. J. Thomas Dalby, Forensic Psychologist

“Doug Heckbert encourages us to rethink what many have come to believe about criminal offences and the people who commit them. While never excusing criminal behaviour, he clearly explains that most crime results from poor decision making in difficult circumstances. Doug’s lifelong contribution to criminal justice education continues in this entertaining and thought-provoking account of his experience working in Canada’s criminal justice system.”

— Michelle R. Andrews BSW, MCA, Criminal Justice Educator

“I have witnessed many ordinary families torn apart by their child’s drug abuse and crime. With the right help and continued love and support of their child, many eventually return to normalcy, both for the child and the family. This is a common experience as shown in many of the stories in Go Ahead and Shoot Me. This is a compelling read based on informed reality that offers hope and strength to many community members.”

— Don Pare, former Sr. Mgr., Correctional Services of Canada and Chairman, RvC Inc. Venture Capital & Mentoring (retired)

"In my six years with drug court I have experienced multiple highs and lows; seeing participants struggle to find recovery from drugs, struggle even more when they must face the trauma that led them into addiction, struggle to rebuild a life that had been shattered into pieces. I have seen some falter and unable to cope with the reality of their trauma and walk away, while others refuse to face their reality and instead stay with their criminal ways and be terminated from the drug court program. There are those that have overdosed and those that die, each one leaving a mark in my soul. It wears at me to see the constant battles. But the rewards far outnumber the heartache and disappointment of a participant that does not succeed; those rewards are in the graduations. There is no greater joy or cause for celebration than seeing a broken life become whole and flourish.” — Grace Froese, Director of Provincial Drug Court Development and Senior Mgr, Edmonton Drug Treatment Court Service, John Howard Society, Edmonton, Alberta “Doug Heckbert has provided us an important insight into the human condition as he tells the stories of real people who have committed crimes. Although the label “criminal” is used to describe people in this book, the stories help us understand who these people are and how they ended up where they did. If we truly believe in crime prevention we must understand more than statistics and labels, we must understand the people and the reason terrible choices were made in their lives.”

— Robin Murray, President and CEO, “John Howard Society, Edmonton, Alberta

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