You’re sitting in your home on a Saturday afternoon. You notice movement outside and you watch someone walk into your screened-in porch. You go outside and ask the stranger what he is doing. He says the police are after him. You tell him to leave.
Instead, the stranger tears a hole in your screen porch and then jumps into your swimming pool. You go inside and get your revolver. You call the police and watch the intruder. Police arrive a few minutes later.
The intruder fights with the police officers. He is arrested and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, trespassing, criminal mischief and resisting arrest. The intruder has a criminal history for using and transporting drugs.
Our homeowner did a number of things that led to this successful outcome. Our defender tried to de-escalate the situation with verbal commands. When the intruder behaved erratically and wouldn’t leave, then the homeowner got his gun and called the police. The homeowner didn’t shoot. The homeowner also gave a statement to the police when they arrived.
Frankly, I’m surprised this story made it into the news for us to find. Usually, the news needs gunshots and blood to hold the editor’s attention. I’m glad they ran the story because it illustrates most self-defense encounters. The presence of a gun is enough to change the attacker’s plans in the vast majority of cases. We almost never press the trigger.
There are a lot of things we want to know about this story that the reporter didn’t cover. I’m sure you noticed that the story said the homeowner got his gun. That implies that the homeowner wasn’t armed at home. About a third of aggravated assaults occur at home, both inside the building and on the property. That is why we want to carry concealed when we’re at home. The other reason is that a holster lets us safely carry a gun when it doesn’t belong in our hands.
Most of the people who commit aggravated assault are intoxicated on either drugs or alcohol. That includes the criminals and addicts who get high before they commit their robbery. It also includes the bully who gets drunk before he throws a punch. Both behave erratically. To be clear, someone who damages your property and jumps into your pool when you ask him to leave is acting erratically. In a case like this, we don’t know who we’re dealing with. We also don’t know how many of them there are.
Erratic behavior is a prudent reason for us to be armed but it is not a reason to shoot. It probably is not a reason to have a gun in our hands. This intruder was not a problem that justified lethal force because the homeowner did not face a lethal, immediate, and unavoidable threat. From the sound of it, this might have been a pepper spray problem that might later develop into a lethal encounter.
What should we do if a thief or intruder damages our property and then walks away? I’d consider myself lucky that I didn’t have to press the trigger. I would count such a situation where things are resolved without violence as a win.
This homeowner had a phone and called for help. Fortunately for all of us, the police arrived before things escalated. Could the homeowner have remained inside and called for help behind locked doors? I don’t know since I wasn’t there, but it is an idea worth considering.
The news article did not give an exact address. I found two houses that looked like they had both a pool and a screened in porch when I mapped the area. Both houses were located well back from the road. Make it easy for police and Emergency Medical Services by marking your address near your driveway. Fences and gates slow down both the bad guys and the good guys. When you’re asking for help, you also want to describe how to move around your property so the good guys can get to you. Stay on the phone with the dispatcher so you know when the police arrive. Also tell the dispatcher what you look like.
In a situation like this one, we don’t want to have a gun in our hands when the police come around the corner of our house. We certainly don’t want to turn towards the police with a gun in our hands. That may be the best reason to carry in a holster at home so we can empty our hands yet have our gun it in a secure location with us.
As I said, stories like this one are seldom reported. Good guys like us don’t like to shoot people. This homeowner stayed at the scene until the police arrived. He gave a brief statement to the police.
If the crazy swimmer decides to run then we’re not going to stop him. Should we call the police anyway? I know that I would. I’d call the police if I said I was armed, if my gun became visible, or if I presented my firearm. I’d also call my lawyer even though no shots were fired.
Rob Morse highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. See what went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from real-life self-defense with a gun. Even the most justified self-defense shooting can go wrong, especially after the shot. Get the education, the training, and the liability coverage you and your family deserve, join USCCA.