Saturday, January 26, 2008

"Crime Can be a Tough Career"

The Right to Bear Arms
by Robert A. Waters

I love stories in which the intended victim fights back and wins. In this case, another violent offender is taken down by a law-abiding homeowner.

“I don’t take any joy in having to take a life,” 64-year-old Judith Kuntz said. “But that’s the kind of world we live in. You have to be prepared, and I’m glad we have a right to protect ourselves.”

Judith, who worked part-time as a nurse, lived in a three-bedroom home in Indialantic, Florida. Her husband had died several years before, and since his death, she'd kept a Rossi .38 Special Model 88 pistol under her pillow for protection.

On Sunday night, May 29, 2005, Judith was sound asleep when she heard a crash. She later said it sounded like a loud “bang,” and seemed to come from her back door. She awoke, not knowing that the banging was so loud that it was also heard by her stepson who lived in a house behind her.

Before she’d gone to bed, Judith had checked to make sure all the doors of the house were locked.

She pulled the revolver from beneath the pillow. Judith moved to the head of the bed and crouched down on the floor between the bed and the wall, facing the bedroom door where she could have an unobstructed view of the hall.

A police report of the incident stated, “Mrs. Kuntz could see the kitchen light come on and she could see the light from a flashlight coming towards her bedroom.”

An intruder walked down the hall as if he owned the place. He stopped at her bedroom door. Silhouetted by the flashlight, Judith saw him clearly. She didn’t know the man.

She raised the revolver to eye-level, aimed, and squeezed the trigger. As the shot rang through the room, the intruder yelled, then turned and raced back down the hall. He was still holding the flashlight—Judith watched it flashing off her walls as he fled.

As soon as he ran out the back door, Judith called 911.

“[Someone] broke into my house,” she told the dispatcher. “I think I shot him.”

“Where did you shoot him?”

“I don’t know,” Judith responded. “I shot at someone who was at my bedroom door. I don’t know. I’m not going to come out of my bedroom.”

In addition to the call made by Judith, her stepson also called 911 and came over to help. Within minutes, deputies arrived and found the body of a man lying face-down in the back yard. He was dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, and athletic shoes, but carried no identification. He had a sock on his left hand and the flashlight, still on, was clutched in his right hand.

A deputy turned him over and noticed a gunshot wound to the chest. Cops observed the tattoo of a cross on his right hand between his index finger and thumb. He also had a tattoo of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on his left arm and the tattoos of four women on his right arm.

Backtracking, the deputy found the back door open and the door window lying on a cement patio leading into the house. Blood was found on the concrete. Entering the house, deputies found blood in the kitchen and the hall.

In an interview with detectives, Judith stated that after shooting, she placed the gun in a cabinet beside her bed.

Investigators from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office took fingerprints from the intruder. A day later, the FBI identified him as Jason Lewis Preston of Eagle Rapids, Michigan. He had a long criminal history, including convictions for burglary, drug offenses, and numerous assaults. He was currently on probation for assaulting his wife. “He had a violent history,” an Eaton Rapids police spokesperson said. “In fact, we were in the process of seeking another warrant for domestic violence against him.”

In an interview with relatives, investigators learned that a few days before, Preston had taken a bus to Indialantic to visit a cousin. During that time, he’d committed at least three burglaries in the neighborhood. (His loot was found hidden in the backyard of his cousin’s home.) For entertainment, Preston hung out at the nearby Hustler Bar.

Investigators determined that Preston had entered Judith’s home by pulling the window off the frame. Then he reached inside and unlocked the door.

Brevard County Homicide Agent Louis Heyn concluded that the shooting was justifiable. “The bottom line,” he said, “is that when somebody enters your home like that [and you shoot him], it’s self-defense. Breaking into the house obviously shows some intent.”

Judith continues to live in the home that she and her husband shared from more than twenty years. “I’m doing fine under the circumstances,” she said. “I don’t take any joy in somebody being dead. My self-preservation instinct took over. This has been a horrifying experience.”

Detective Heyn praised Judith for her defense of her home. “Occupied burglaries are rare,” he said. “This underscores that it is dangerous for the burglar and the homeowner. Crime can be a tough career.”

1 comment:

Bob Scott said...

I recently started a blog that discusses the many roles of firearms for self defense. Too many Americans are victimized by violent criminals because the refuse to believe it will happen to them and consequently don't plan or prepare for predators who may be stalking them. Judith's story is particularly inspiring as she successfully defended herself from a sociopath who had broken into her home and likely would have done her grave harm should he have gotten the upper hand. Nevertheless, her sound tactics of keeping the inexpensive little Rossi revolver handy, barricading herself behind her bed and capturing the home invader in the silhouette of the hallway likely saved her life. One point I found particularly interesting was that this violent offender had already committed three burglaries in the neighborhood while visiting a cousin who lived nearby. Thanks for posting Judith's story. Bob Scott

You can find more information on defending yourself at http://crime-thugs-guns.blogspot.com/