Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shooting Back

Sometimes crooks just can’t get it right. Breaking into a stranger’s home can be dangerous, but many thugs seem oblivious to the fact that 80 million Americans own firearms. Those home invaders who survive often seem surprised when they end up being shot by their intended victims. I’ve summarized four recent cases in which intruders had the tables violently turned against them.

At just after five o’clock on the morning of October 15, 2009, Charles Haithcock, 80, dialed 911. “A man broke in on me and pulled a gun,” the Greensboro, North Carolina resident told the dispatcher. “I shot him and he’s laying out in the yard...He broke in [through] the window. He pulled the air conditioning out in the living room. I heard something and he come back to the bedroom. I was in the bed and I opened the door and he had pulled what looked like a shotgun [and] was pointing it at me...” Haithcock fired three rounds from a handgun, killing Michael Lamont Medley, 19. The intruder had a long, violent criminal record. Cops refused to charge the elderly victim, citing self-defense.

On October 13, 81-year-old Ralph Burkett shot and killed a masked home invader who had just been released from prison. The homeowner and his wife were sleeping in their Brewton, Alabama home when Jeremy Paul McCall, 35, kicked in the door, entered Burkett’s bedroom, and demanded money. The homeowner, however, pulled a .357-Magnum from a stand beside his bed. When the intruder threatened Burkett with his own gun, the intended victim shot and killed McCall. No charges were filed. “The man [Burkett] was in his home,” Sheriff Grover Smith said, “[and] in bed with his wife. He acted in self-defense.”

Schroeppel, in Oswego County, New York, is the last town most people would expect a violent home invasion to take place. But on Saturday evening, October 17, Deanna Candee, 48, and her son Adam, 28, returned home from shopping. According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, they found their house “ransacked with doors broken, glass smashed, and pictures and knick-knacks knocked from their walls.” As they entered their home, the residents were attacked by an intruder. Timothy Hartigan, 39, grabbed Deanna by her hair and threatened her. Adam, hearing his mother’s screams, ran to her aid. He pulled Hartigan off his mother and the two men engaged in a horrific fight. During the struggle, Deanna grabbed her handgun and fired once, killing the assailant. According to family members, Hartigan had a history of mental illness. Both Deanna and Adam Candee were transported to the hospital for injuries suffered in the assault. They were expected to recover.

On the night of October 12, Jorge Guzman of Houston, Texas, awoke to the sound of someone breaking a window in his home. He called 911 and grabbed his pistol. As Guzman pleaded for help, the intruder entered the house. The dispatcher urged Guzman to put down his gun, but the homeowner refused. Guzman waited in his bedroom, hoping police would arrive. Suddenly, the intruder began kicking the door. “As soon as he put his foot there,” Guzman said, “that’s when I shot because he had a big tattoo on his face...The [dispatcher] was telling me that’s the sheriff’s department [but] when he came [through] that door I said that’s not the sheriff’s department.” The intruder, who had a bullet wound, was later arrested, along with a female accomplice.

Sometimes, crime really doesn’t pay.

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