A Michigan boy who recently channeled his inner David and warded off his sister’s hulking, would-be ki*dnapper by sho*oting him with a slingshot has said he grabbed the unconventional weapon because he was “freaking out” at the unfolding danger and it was the closest thing.

“It just felt like I was scared, and I had … to do” something, 13-year-old Owen Burns said. “Cause if I didn’t … she would’ve been taken away or … worse.”

Owen’s standing up for his sister with an updated version of the low-tech weapon which the historical king of Israel used to take down Goliath has helped make him the US’s latest viral sensation.

He went on various media outlets in recent days and described how his eight-year-old sister was outside their family’s home in the north-eastern Michigan community of Alpena Township looking for mushrooms when he heard her scream twice on 10 May. Owen said he paused the video game he was playing, looked out a window and saw a stranger trying to haul his sister away.

“I’m like freaking out,” Owen recalled in an interview on Wednesday with the local television news outlet.

The teen reached for his nearby slingshot, grabbed a marble and a rock, and opened the window. With both the marble and the rock, he loaded them into the slingshot’s pouch, pulled back its bands, and fired the projectiles at his sister’s attacker.

Owen struck the 17-year-old assailant in the head and chest, and his sister was able to writhe her way out of his clutches and run back inside her family’s home, police said. The attacker then ran into the woods, and officers arrested him after they found him trying to hide at a nearby gas station with injuries that matched having been hit with a rock and marble fired from a slingshot.

The assailant faces a charge of attempted ki*dnapping, among other alleged cri*mes, according to police. Investigators have previously said that the a*rrested 17-year-old confessed that he planned to severely beat Owen’s sister.

“I was just lucky – he’s just a big target because he’s not like one Pepsi can,” Owen said, referring to an item which slingshot enthusiasts often use for target practice. “If I wasn’t out there and I didn’t hear her scream, then she was gone.”

A lieutenant in Michigan’s state police, John Grimshaw, hailed Owen’s quick thinking and accuracy as “extraordinary”. Grimshaw said Owen at a minimum barred “something seriously bad happening” to his sister, and he went so far as to say the boy may have saved her life.

In a joint interview with CNN, Owen’s father, Andrew Burns, said the boy grew up refining his aim using guns which shoot foam projectiles as well as BBs and are marketed as toys or sporting goods. “He’s a good shot – he always has been,” Andrew Burns said of his son.

Owen told CNN he had been interested in slingshots for about five or six years. He said to the Washington Post that his mother, Margaret, paid $3 at a clearance sale for the slingshot he used to save his sister.

He added that his neighbors in Alpena have overwhelmed him with support.

“I get a bunch of money for no reason,” Owen said to the network. “I’m grateful for all of that but you don’t have to give me all the stuff for no reason. I know I did something right, but it’s just me.”

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