They messed with the wrong Wisconsin women.
It was around 6:30 p.m., and Miriam Ben-Shalom and her life partner, Karen Weiss, had just finished a musical matinee. They pulled into Hotel Metro, ready to round out their theater date with a fancy French dinner.
But as they drove to the valet parking stand, they soon learned a band of wanted car thieves was right behind them. Ben-Shalom, 68, told cops she was fetching Weiss’s walker from the trunk when she spotted the valet attendant on the ground, struggling to push a teenage attacker off him.
So the Army veteran and renowned lesbian activist tackled the alleged thief, 50 years her junior, and pinned him to the pavement.
“I stood up and put the toe of my boot in a socially significant place,” Ben-Shalom told The Daily Beast. “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.
“I have to tell you, I meant every word,” she added.
According to WISN, Ben-Shalom’s takedown helped cops eventually nab a trio of CT Mob, or Cut Throat Mob, gang members, who are accused of smashing 100 cars in a single night and ransacking an MMA fighter’s wheels.
“They probably thought two little old ladies, one who walks with a walker, (are) easy marks. Guess again,” Ben-Shalom told WISN, which first revealed the veteran’s heroic deed.
Just don’t call her a senior citizen.
“I think these fools saw Karen with her walker and her cane,” Ben-Shalom told The Daily Beast. “[But] we’re not senior citizens. We’re not fragile little old ladies.”
While Ben-Shalom had the alleged carjacker in a hold, 69-year-old Weiss used her cane to remove his hoodie so she could identify him.
“The next thing I knew, this Jeep is pulling up,” said Weiss, a retired French teacher for Milwaukee Public Schools.
The black SUV approached the crowd, and a teenager jumped out and waved a handgun. The Jeep Cherokee, prosecutors say, had only been stolen earlier that day and was parked about 20 feet behind Weiss’s Honda.
According to Ben-Shalom, the teen ordered, “Let him go, bitch, or I’ll shoot you,” while pointing a black semiautomatic at her.
“So I realize it’s probably a real gun, and I’m looking at this kid as I put my hands up and back away,” Ben-Shalom said. The attempted carjacker then hopped into his getaway car and sped off before police arrived.
Undeterred, Ben-Shalom and Weiss had dinner at the hotel, where front-desk attendants gave them high-fives and cheered, “You go, girl.” Milwaukee police called to the scene then interviewed the couple of 23 years as they shared cocktails and oysters, according to Ben-Shalom.
On Facebook the next day, the former drill sergeant 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 takedown is just Ben-Shalom’s latest feat of derring-do.
The former English teacher made history by fighting the military’s ban on gay service members. In 1976, Ben-Shalom was kicked out of the Army for identifying as a lesbian. At the time, she was one of few female drill sergeants, and in 1988, became the first openly gay person to be re-enlisted in the Army by court order.
According to Fox 6, her activism is so meaningful that the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is preserving boxes of her personal records. The Library of Congress also has interviews with the Cold War-era veteran.
Earlier this year, she made headlines when the Milwaukee Pride Parade dropped her as grand marshal for posts on her Facebook page. The parade committee claimed her profile contained “transphobic” posts over restroom issues.
Ben-Shalom, a self-styled “radical feminist,” admitted she faced criticism after questioning whether male “pretenders” could take advantage of transgender restrooms. “My fight is ensuring that women are safe from the pretenders who might use the trans issue to get in and hurt somebody,” Ben-Shalom told Fox 6.
Now she’s in the news again over the attempted carjacking.
Weiss told The Daily Beast she called cops asking for updates, but it wasn’t until last week that detectives appeared at the couple’s home with an array of photos and asked them, separately, to identify the alleged perps.
Their IDs apparently helped Milwaukee County prosecutors, who on Sunday charged three teenagers with a slew of felonies. Authorities say 17-year-olds Junior Moreno and Jesus Lazaro, along with Giovanni Zurfluh, 18, belong to the Cut Throat Mob, which is responsible for car thefts and other crimes across the city.
According to a criminal complaint reviewed by The Daily Beast, the suspects are described as auto thieves who conduct planning and surveillance ahead of boosting vehicles, while also using already stolen vehicles as transport to their targets.
Lazaro allegedly copped to stealing one woman’s 2012 Kia Optima twice, in September and November, the complaint states.
Meanwhile, members of the CT Mob were caught on surveillance footage breaking into UFC fighter Anthony “Showtime” Pettis’s vehicles on Nov. 30.
The former lightweight champion told police his security cameras caught two suspects pulling the door handle of a brown Cadillac, which was locked and parked in the driveway. The suspects then allegedly snatched items from his unlocked Range Rover. Moreno admitted to “riding around” Pettis’s neighborhood and said Lazaro was the driver, prosecutors allege.
Ben-Shalom brushed off accolades of bravery for standing up to the suspects.
“I don’t know that I’m possessed of any more courage than anybody else,” she 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.”