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)

  • John Roberts

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    Once the intruder is down and no longer a threat, put down your own gun and await police (if they were called). If not, call them! Keep intruder under wraps at all times to ensure he’s no longer a threat. The important things are: 1) the last thing a cop should see when he arrives is you with a gun, and 2) keep your hands visible at all times. If you’re holding the intruder for the police, turn on all the lights and be ready to drop your own gun as soon as the police arrive. Make no sudden movements. As a homeowner, you have the right to shoot a man armed with a handgun on sight with no warning. Police don’t have that right, but if you turn your gun towards them, even as a reaction, they can and will shoot. That said, you also have to beware a second intruder, so act intelligently. A cop will usually bark a command and then identify themselves. That’s not the time to explain. Drop the gun. It won’t go off. Let it drop to the floor and place your hands on your head! If the police shoot you then, they’ll have a lot of splaining to do.

    Reply

  • Firewagon

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    Sad and tragic outcome! Though, for many, it might be a common thought to, “….you move to confront the intruder….,” unless you are sure that some other innocent in your home is in immediate danger, the correct response to any home invasion would be to know everyone is “secured” behind their locked doors, armed, and calling 911. If anyone approaches your locked door, you tell them that you’re armed and the police have been called! DO NOT go hunting for the perps! DO NOT exit your room/s until the authorities have arrived and have satisfied you that they are what they say they are. As indicated in this event, STUFF can be replaced, your life, or that of a loved one, in this worse case scenario, NOT! Since 1 in 5 homes will experience some type of home invasion/theft, it is well worth the time to HAVE A PLAN established, especially in a home with more than one bedroom occupied!

    Reply

  • Jon

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    Yes. Police are always in charge. If you are going to deal with the problem then get it done then call the cops to clean up the mess. Remember then are usually minutes away even if they are blocks away-call delay, dispatch delay, etc. if you want the cops to deal with it then hunker down. You cant have both going on at the same time.

    Reply

  • tom

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    As a 25 yr. veteran poluceman rule #1 is the uniformed officer is in charge, do exactly as he says. Assume that he has no idea who you are (good guy,bad guy or undercover) Once he has things under control then tell your story.

    Reply

    • Grant

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      In my home, I am in charge. Nobody else is. Police have no right to shoot a man in his home. They have a great responsibility, and we entrust them with a lot. Unfortunately, i have yet to meet a police officer that understands that they are civilians just like us. Nothing seperates them from us whatsoever. They have no rights and should have no privilege beyond ours. That police officer had a duty to assess the situation before barging in and definetly before shooting the homeowner. To error is human. And i doubt any police officer would use force without being settled in their mind it was neccessary. When an officer oversteps their bounds, they betray our trust.

      Reply

    • JAMES T COOK

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      Would it be wise for the officer to identify himself before entering a home where shots have been fired? I’m for the police but going in like the king of Siam doesn’t sound smart or like it’s following procedure. The homeowner doesn’t give up his rights because shots have been fired.

      Reply

    • R

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      ….oh for God’s sake.

      Reply

    • MLaw86

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      The CONSTITUTION of the United States states that I, as a citizen, has the right to bear arms. How/Why does a policeman, being uninformed and without a search warrant, supersede our right to have a firearm in our own homes?

      Reply

  • Deano

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    Outlet w/ lamp or ceiling light ( if more than one in rm, ) in every room wired to switch in your bedroom. light entire house up. Electrician would be useful. Also have blinding flashlight backup. Suppressed firearm for in house. Stopped threat, retreat to bedroom call police.

    Reply

  • Phillip

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    A very difficult situation indeed!

    I would of suggested to first call 911 and brief them on the situation before engaging, if your able to due it safely. If that is not possible due to the situation at hand, I don’t know if I would suggest distancing yourself from the weapon as a second intruder could exist. I think after neutralizing the intruder, it’s best to holstering your firearm, cocked and ready if incase another intruder is present.

    In this scenario, I’m not even sure if the homeowner even had time to holster the firearm, but that is what I would of suggested after neutralizing the intruder, if time aloud.

    Reply

  • Robert Wilkins

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    Its always been drilled into me in most of the defensive handgun courses that I’ve taken, that after one removes the threat in one’s house, one renders the weapon safe, puts it down, turns on all the lights, and assuming the police have already been called, sit and wait for them to arrive. This can be performed in a few seconds, if police are already in your residence-just drop it. don’t go walking around outside in the bushes to wait for them -JUST DESCALATE THE SITUATION!!

    Reply

    • Rafael Gomez Sr.

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      I would have immediately set my weapon down, turned on lights in room, Sit down and Wait for P.O. to arrive.Then FOLLOW Exact Instructions P.O. given. Afterwards, when Asked what happened, I would tell my side of the incident, making Sure of a Complete Detail, from Beginning to End.

      Reply

  • Frank Cizek

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    That’s an excellent point that he had just fired his weapon in an enclosed space & probably can’t hear anything that the officer might have said. We all need to program that scenario into our minds & be prepared for it to happen.

    Reply

  • Gerald Johnson

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    The key part I heard in the video was the police encountered an armed man. From all of the posts it seems that distancing yourself from the weapon should happen first. Taking time to clear it would be nice but if a LEO sees a weapon in someones hand….Your the bad guy, unfortunately. The attorney post with a good guy description is a great idea if you or someone in the home is the caller. When your neighbor calls…..there is no description.

    Reply

  • jeff

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    I find it interesting that the media says two people were murdered. At the worst an intruder was shot in self defense and a homeowner was shot by accident. This is two homicides, not murders.

    Reply

    • 70's Ops

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      I really don’t think semantics are applicable in this situation. Regardless of how you word it, 2 people are dead. 1 justified killing, 1 not.

      As always
      Carry on

      Reply

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