When a carjacker tried to prey on two elderly women, he didn’t know he had made a very poor decision.
It was a night in late October when retired Army drill sergeant Miriam Ben-Shalom and her life partner Karen Weiss went out to see a musical theater performance followed by a nice dinner in Milwaukee.
They pulled into the parking lot of Hotel Metro and were preparing to hand off the keys to their Honda CR-V to the valet. Sixty-eight-year-old Ben-Shalom was getting Weiss’ walker from the trunk when she saw a teenager attacking the valet who was assisting them. He was trying to steal their car.
Ben-Shalom immediately took action.
“I think these fools saw Karen with her walker and her cane,” she told The Daily Beast, adding, “[but] we’re not fragile little old ladies.”
Ben-Shalom tackled the thief and pinned him to the pavement.
“I stood up and put the toe of my boot in a socially significant place,” she said. “I told him if he tried to move or do anything, he would walk very funny for the rest of his life and pee through a tube [and] I have to tell you, I meant every word.”
As Ben-Shalom held him, 69-year-old Weiss used her cane to remove his hoodie so she could identify him. Just when they had their alleged carjacker secured, a black Jeep pulled up, and a passenger jumped out, pulling a gun on the two women.
According to Ben-Shalom, the gun-wielding teen said, “Let him go, bitch, or I’ll shoot you.” Not wanting to risk being shot, she loosened her grip, and the assailant escaped in the car with his two accomplices.
After speaking with police, the couple proceeded with their dinner and were applauded by hotel employees.
The next day, she had a message for the carjackers: “Big brave fuckers, to try to jack a car from a disabled person …. Lesson: don’t jack cars and do not mess with old lady veterans.”
The couple kept in touch with the police, and helped Milwaukee County prosecutors identify 17-year-olds Junior Moreno and Jesus Lazaro, and 18-year-old Giovanni Zurfluh as the perpetrators of their carjacking and members of Milwaukee’s Cut Throat Mob — a local gang accused of dozens of vehicle thefts and breaking into the home of MMA fighter Anthony Pettis.
“I’m very glad we were able to help out and get these punks off the street,” Ben-Shalom told Fox 6 Now.
For Ben-Shalom, this isn’t the first time taking a stand against injustice.
In 1976, she was release from the Army for identifying as a lesbian. Twelve years later, she became the first openly gay person to be granted reenlistment by court order. And she’s been an outspoken LGBTQ rights activist ever since.
“I don’t know that I’m possessed of any more courage than anybody else,” Ben-Shalom told The Daily Beast. “I was angry. In the back of my head, I thought, ‘How dare this human piece of effluvia steal a car from a disabled woman?’ It disgusted me.”