Gun Fights are Dangerous — Even if You Win

By Dave Dolbee published on in Safety and Training

An armed resident and an intruder were both killed. The intruder was killed by the homeowner. The homeowner was killed by a responding officer. Read the following account of what happened. The details are sparse, but the commentary regarding the dos and don’ts in the comment section should be revealing.

It’s about 1:30 a.m. The police have responded to an intruder call. As the police arrive on the scene, they hear gunshots. Fearing for the safety of the home’s occupants, the police rush in and encounter a man holding gun. The police shoot the man with the gun. In doing so, the homeowner, who had just shot the intruder, is shot and killed by the responding officer.

The investigation of whether the officer’s actions were justified is fodder for another place time. We simply do not have enough details, and I have no wish to foster a bunch of comments to bash those who run to, not from, the 911 calls. Nonetheless, this could be most any of us. Maybe you did everything right, perhaps not.

After all, the police shot the homeowner in his own house. Stress levels were high. The officer may not have properly identified himself. In the heat of the moment, adrenaline flowing, the homeowner may have panicked and leveled his gun at the responding officers after they identified themselves. We just don’t know, and there is little benefit to debating the right or wrong actions of those involved without complete details. However, that does not mean that this cannot be a catalyst for a learning moment.

Don’t Get Mistaken for the Bad Guy

You awake to a crash and people yelling. You realize an intruder is in your house. You hear a family member scream and gunshots. Fearing for your safety and that of your loved ones, you move to confront the intruder.

Your neighbors also heard the shots and screams and called the police who, unbeknownst to you, are only one block away. You see the intruder coming down the hall, alone. You confront him and are forced to shoot and kill him as the police pull up to the house

What happens next?

This is your chance to write the story and share your knowledge with readers of The Shooter’s Log. Provide your answer in the comment section.

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Comments (58)

  • JAMES T COOK

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    I’m reading these arm chair procedures after the fact and old Gringo is using the most logic. Randy, do you know if there is only one intruder? Police should NEVER enter a residence without identifying him or herself. If procedure is followed, then the officer will have back up. Even if shots are fired, you cover the exits, make a strategic analysis and clear the house while properly identifying yourself. I would reserve judgement either way but it doesn’t look good for the officer. There will be a suit. There will be a termination. The only questions are, is will they find out the truth, will there be justice and will anything be learned? WE have the right to defend ourselves in OUR own homes, without sprawling on the floor with our hands behind our heads until the police come and properly identify all parties involved.

    Reply

  • BubbaMilsap

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    The homeowner firearms BEFORE he is certain that ALL the Bad Guys have been located and taken out? Not on my watch!

    Isn’t article’s clear implication that NEIGHBORS called the police? How do neighbors, in the middle of the night, have a clue about the homeowner’s attire?

    Information to the effect that the officer who killed the heroic homeowner had VERY recently shot another presumed suspect MAY be far more pertinent than indicated in this discussion (it is not referenced AT ALL, herein, I believe). Is that situation being de-emphasized, disregarded, or omitted?

    Reply

  • 70's Ops

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    First and most importantly, my sympathies to the family and friends of the homeowner. The intruder got what he deserved.
    This is one of those situations that’s very easy to say what you’d do, but in the heat of the moment with adrenaline pumping through you, most of that goes out the window.
    Of course putting down the weapon, and assuming a non-threatening position on the floor, would be the ideal way to wait for the police to respond, but there’s so much happening so fast, and the police are on your side. You probably wouldn’t even think they would shoot you, after all, you were in the right. You may not even realize the weapon is still in your hand. Add to that the fact that you’re not sure if he was a lone assailant, or had an accomplis. Now you’re trying to assess the condition of others that may be in the house with you. Are they alright. All this is happening at warp speed, so disarming and laying on the floor may be the furthest thing from your mind. Add to this the fact you just fired a weapon inside, so your hearing is slightly compromised. Making it hard to hear directions being directed at you. Or could they be yelling at another intruder you can’t see.
    Its very easy to see how this could spiral quickly out of control. Because of the amount of variables, there is no finite answer that I can see. You could train half your life, and not cover every possible scenario. Just ask the LEO that fired and killed a man defending his home and family.
    Perhaps the responding officers should have taken cover and directed the man to disarm until he did, before using deadly force. They are, after all, supposed to be the pro’s.
    Its tragic, and amazing it doesn’t happen more often.
    I guess all you can do, is try to remember that the people coming to help, have guns too.

    As always
    Carry on

    Reply

    • maxwell carter

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      i read about this on another page..they left out a lot of details here. the intruder was naked and was trying to drown the homeowner’s grandson in the bathtub. when he shot the intruder he also hit his grandson but the little guy is expected to be o.k….

      Reply

  • EDWARD S LaHaye

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    After the incident, homeowner should have either holster his weapon or at least put down within reach and address the police with his hands empty and raised.

    Reply

  • dprato

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    I think before writing an article like this the facts should be known ahead of time. I doubt a home owner would mistake a uniformed officer and point their gun at them or threaten to shoot them. Seems to me someone screwed up.
    This incident would not deter me from protecting myself and my family.

    Reply

    • EquusPallidus

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      dprato
      I read your comment and like you I would protect my family.
      But the article never said the homeowner threatened to shoot uniformed officer. While this is a tragic event. I can tell you will 100% honesty that a distressed homeowner who just used his or her weapon to protect themselves in their house. Whether they hit the intruder or not is irrelevant. They will point the gun at the police. By mistake or out of pure adrenaline and they are swinging their arms around. I have had homeowners point guns at me more times than I would like. Where I live every body owns and carries a gun just about so I don’t freak out upon seeing a person with a gun. Especially when like most men sleep, in their underwear or woman in a nightgown. But these officers may not be used to it. Just seeing the guns blocked every other clue like the homeowner was wearing boxer shorts. I will say the officers if they did not do it should have yelled several times that “ we are the police, we are coming in. Put your weapon down if you still have it.” But even after that, I have still had homeowners point a gun at me. They are only human and sometimes S**t just happens.

      Reply

    • Jeremy Bowlin

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      If the officer shines a light in your face, you will not see a unformed officer. All you will see is a bright light. Which is what is supposed to happen.

      We do not know what happened. The only way we will ever know is to see the body cam footage.

      Reply

  • Frank Liso

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    You place the gun on the floor and step away from it, put your hands up and identify yourself.

    Reply

    • Joseph M. Loglisci

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      Yes, my answer also.

      Reply

  • James Perkey

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    Thats a scary thought

    Reply

  • rt66paul

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    There are no winners in a fight, just those that might not be hurt as bad.

    Reply

  • OldGringo

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    I beg to differ, I have worked local, state, federal and military law enforcement, and also became an attorney and prosecutor. Yes, I am old. First focus on the facts we know. A cop barged into a house and killed the homeowner. Every home owner is likely to have gun. The cop should never, ever go into a situation like that without knowing what the homeowner was wearing. That cop(s) should have been yelling at the dispatcher to confirm the description of the good guys, or not go in. This looks to me like a rookie mistake. I am sorry to offend, but this just look obvious.

    Now, everybody needs to tell their wife or other, to always tell the dispatcher—the good guy is wearing shorts and a green shirt and glasses, and to repeat it explaining this is the identifying clothes of the good guy. It may very well be that the little woman in that case did not make it clear, we shall see….

    If you make that 911 call, you tell the dispatcher I am the good guy, I am wearing…..and tell them again, or just lock yourself in the bedroom until they get there….IMHO

    Reply

    • Keith

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      Agree. Any officer entering a home should assume homeowner is armed and under stress. In this case based on the local coverage here in Denver, it sounds like homeowner had every reason to believe there were other intruders present and was clearing his home after engaging the first threat. Police knew he was there, he didn’t know police were there. With all the discussion of armed citizens needing to behave certain ways in the presence of police, where is the focus on training of law enforcement behaviors around legally armed citizens?

      Reply

  • Randy Donk

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    IF I have to fire at an intruder, I would clear any weapons away from the body, confirm the intruder is deceased, then make my weapon safe, and secure it. then open the front door hands raised. I would then follow any instructions the LEOs gave. letting them reach for my ID.

    Reply

    • Jeffrey Koon

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      Randy Donk – I hope I have that much capacity and that much ability to hear after discharging a firearm in a bathroom, hall, bedroom, living room, den, garage, whatever without ear protection in place – which I probably should start wearing every night after reading this cuz we have coward cops here and they most likely will shoot 1st, do any part of their duty well after. Thank you for this as it can be helpful to others too.

      Reply

    • Indianasteve

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      Wear the ear pro and you won’t hear the crash of the bad guy coming in.

      Reply

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