The events that conspired to put a bullet in George Stover's neck in the basement of his West Towson home early this year were straight out of his beloved crime dramas and horror movies — a terrifying 20 minutes that, ultimately, ended up with the bad guy behind bars for life.
But in the days, weeks and months since Stover sustained his nonfatal gunshot wound, it hasn't been the crime shows he's turned to, but the Westerns of his youth.
Stover, himself a cult film regular who has appeared in several Johns Waters' films, saw a certain cheapness of life demonstrated by the heroes and villains he grew up watching in films. Some people died of bullet wounds and others, as he did, staggered upstairs, shut the front door, called the law and got on with life.
"If John Wayne could look down from heaven, he'd say 'George, what are you — a lily-livered coward?' " Stover asked this week, dropping into an impeccable Wayne impersonation. " 'You got a yella streak down your back. He just nicked you.' "
Luckily, the bullet fired at close range at the back of his head did just nick him — Stover said it was just a flesh wound that missed bone, muscle and arteries alike.
But that didn't matter to Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Robert Cahill Jr., who on Nov. 20, sentenced Bradford Steven Holup, 50, of Baltimore, to life in prison without the possibility of parole after Holup pleaded guilty to attempted murder for Stover's shooting.
This week, recounting the events surrounding the shooting, Stover recalled that late in the evening of Feb. 26, he was watching the 11 o'clock news and an episode of the crime show, "Criminal Minds," at a friend's house in Perry Hall.
While Stover was out, Holup was in his home — actually returning to the scene of a January 2011 burglary, for which Stover said Holup later confessed. This time, the burglar found the first floor windows had been either barred or reinforced, so he climbed atop Stover's side porch, and in through an upstairs window.
Holup was waiting on the stairs when Stover walked in. Stover recalled that the intruder immediately asked to be led to the safe. Stover retrieved money and said he talked with Holup a little as well.
Holup asked Stover his name, then told Stover his own name was George as well.
"Of course," Stover said, "that was a lie."
At one point, Holup ordered Stover to sit in a chair, and to show he wasn't kidding, fired his gun at another chair in Stover's living room. The bullet holes in the cushion are still evident.
Stover then recalled the most chilling part of the encounter. Before Holup made his exit, the intruder wanted to lock up his victim ... somewhere.
None of the doors had locks, so Holup settled for stashing him in the basement. Stover couldn't make out exactly what his shooter said as he led him to the stairs, but remembered a nasty tone in his voice.
He was near the bottom of the steps when Holup fired his gun, shooting him from behind.
He didn't fall forward. Stover said he slumped into the wall as he reached for something to hold on to.
Holup took his keys and tried to leave in Stover's red Cadillac, which was parked in the driveway. But he didn't have the key to the club lock, and fled on foot instead.
Meanwhile, apparently left for dead, Stover walked up the stairs, shut the front door, and called police. They were at his house in a matter of moments, he said, perhaps a benefit of heavy deployment on weekend nights in Towson.
Officers cut off Stover's sweater and shirt to check his wound and stabilize him, and a three-hour manhunt ensued in the surrounding neighborhood. He said officers checked the woods around his home and the Towson Family Center Y property, and canvassed his home for evidence.
At around 4 a.m., an officer saw a man running for a waiting Chevy Lumina near the corner of Bosley Avenue and Chesapeake Avenue. Holup got in the car and was arrested after a traffic stop.