Burglar had just been released from jail
by Robert A. Waters
At 4:00 a.m., on October 21, 2011, Donna Hopper, 66, of Redding, California awoke to the sound of someone ringing her front doorbell. She grabbed her phone, walked into the living room, and asked who was there. A man outside answered, “Jeff.” Hopper asked him what he wanted and he said, “I’m coming in.” The frightened widow ordered him to leave.
Jesse Edward Theis, 37, was the stranger on Hopper's porch. He'd just been released from the Shasta County Jail a few hours before. Police suspected that he had attempted to break into a local car dealership and were already searching for him.
In a recent interview with CBS News, Hopper described what happened.
“I have a metal security screen door and he started pounding on that door. I called 911 and went down the hall and...got the gun [a .38-caliber revolver] out of the bedroom. And when I was getting the gun the spare bedroom window was right next to the front door and he beat on the window with both hands and broke the window. And I just remember coming into the doorway and firing two shots wild.
“He walked around my house across toward my garage [and] over toward my next door neighbor and she’s alone also. We both lost our husbands. I remember telling the operator, ‘He’s left.’ Then right away he came back. I’m looking at him trying to see what he looked like and I remember he had red hair and a beard and all of a sudden he put his knee on the window sill and tried to climb through the window and I just pulled the trigger again. I looked for a white shirt. I was afraid to look at his face. And I just shot the white shirt.
“And I remember my  dispatcher, she says, ‘Donna, take a deep breath.’ That’s all I remember her telling me all night. I thought I was screaming on the telephone and they said, ‘No, you weren’t.’ In my ears I’m screaming. The police came. They told me, ‘Don’t go out the front.’ They had me go out the back door over to the gate and took me to my neighbor’s.”
Theis was hit in the chest. The bullet penetrated his left lung and he bled to death at the scene.
He had a long criminal history that included arrests for selling drugs, indecent exposure, resisting a public officer, vehicle theft, and burglary. Theis, who seemed to be unable to stay out of trouble, had spent three years in the state prison.
After investigating the incident, the Shasta County prosecutor concluded that Hopper was justified in shooting Theis. “It’s clear that Ms. Hopper was in fear for her life when she fired the shot that killed the intruder,” Deputy District Attorney Josh Lowery said. “Therefore, the intruder’s death was a justifiable homicide under California law.” He called the shooting “a textbook example of self-defense.”