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Police: 81-year-old Ala. woman shoots homeless man washing his clothes in her laundry room

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    MOBILE, Ala. — An 81-year-old woman shot a homeless man after finding him washing his clothes in her laundry room, police said, but the man said from his hospital room Tuesday that he’s known the woman for years.
    Ethel Sanders told police she heard noises in her laundry room Monday morning, so she grabbed her handgun and found James Penn, 25, standing in his underwear near the washing machine, Mobile Police Officer Eric Gallichant said.
    Sanders, who normally uses a walker, shot Penn when he came at her, Gallichant said. She was knocked to the ground by the force of the shot and Penn grabbed the gun from her, the officer said.
    Penn pointed the gun at Sanders, took his clothes from the washing machine and fled, Gallichant said.
    Officers quickly found the nearly naked suspect at a nearby community center. A bullet had gone through his leg into his stomach, but he was expected to survive.
    Penn said Sanders is his sister’s godmother and she helped raise him.
    ‘‘I talked to her last night and she apologized,’’ said Penn, who was in fair condition. ‘‘After she shot me and fell down, I picked her back up and made sure she was all right. I love her.’’
    Sanders declined to comment Tuesday afternoon.
    Gallichant said police are still investigating but expected to charge Penn with first-degree burglary when he’s released from the hospital.

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