Steve Miller was nearly beaten to death outside his home in Michigan. He was saved by his girlfriend and her .38.

Steve Miller got into an argument with his neighbor, Jerry Thomas Ficht, over leaves.

Ficht said Miller was blowing the leaves onto his property. But Ficht was intoxicated, according to this USA Today story, and began beating Miller in the head, nearly killing him last week in Macomb Township near Detroit, Michigan.

He may very well have ended Miller’s life if his girlfriend, Bonnie La Rose, hadn’t come to his defense with her .38 revolver in the Camelot Villa mobile home park.

When La Rose realized her boyfriend of 13 years was being assaulted, she grabbed her pistol and stood over Miller, who was lying on the ground, aiming the gun at Ficht, who she says was yelling and only about five feet away, according to the story.

“I took a stance to shoot,” La Rose, 68, said in the story. “(Ficht) leaned his head and I told him three times I would shoot him and kill him.”

La Rose told USA Today that if Ficht had taken another step toward her, she would have fired. Instead, he retreated into his home next door where he was arrested by Macomb County Sheriff’s officers, who also found Miller laying on his back in the grass, bleeding from his ear.

The attack was severe, indeed. Miller underwent four hours of surgery and has 23 staples on the side of his head. His skull had been fractured, causing an arterial bleed, according to the story, which says he is conscious and talking, but needs help walking and is having problems with his hearing. He is likely looking at a long recovery and it isn’t yet known how extensive his injuries are.

Ficht, 57, is being held on a $10,000 bond on a charge of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder, a felony that carries a 10-year sentence, the story says.

La Rose told USA Today that Miller was blowing leaves when Ficht said he wanted the ones in his driveway picked up, saying something along the lines of “your tree, your leaves.” Ficht then began screaming at Miller, before punching him until he fell to the ground, police said.

She said they’ve never had any problems with Ficht in the past.

A Go Fund Me campaign has been created to help with Miller’s recovery.

Read the full USA Today story here.

Much of Macomb County is considered a rough area north of downtown Detroit, but still part of Metro Detroit. Clinton Township, where the couple lives, is Michigan’s most populous township. The police forces in Detroit and surrounding areas are spread so thin after an era of crime and poverty that Detroit Police Chief James Craig has encouraged residents to arm and protect themselves, as we reported earlier.