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Old January 20, 2006, 02:30 PM   #1
Phxdog
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Home Invasion - Was I wrong?

11:00 PM, I was in the bedroom with the wife, all the kids (8) were asleep. I heard the front door open and shut (not locked, yeah, I know now). I walked into the dark Livingroom and came face to face with a stranger with both his hands in the pockets of a large jacket.

I pushed him with one hand to the chest back towards the door, and ran back into the bedroom, yelled at my wife to get behind the bed & call 911, as I grabbed my .45 auto from the bedside pistol safe.

Now, carefully, I went back into the livingroom. I found they guy seated on my couch, hands still in his pockets. With my gun on him, I yelled at him to get his hands where I could see them. I manuvered to the safest shooting angle I had (house full of kids) and told him to stand up and head for the door. He smelled of booze & was obviously high on something.

I could now hear sirens & knew the good guys were on the way. He stopped at the door (me behind him), I told him to reach down, slowly open the door, and get out of my house.

He stopped, put his hands back into is pockets, turned around, and began stepping slowly towards me.

I know began to put pressure on the trigger & I remember the hammer coming back as I screamed at him to stop & get his hands out where I could see them.

My gun was an AMT Backup DAO with about 15lbs of trigger pull (my daily carry piece at the time). He stopped and took his hands out before my gun fired, turned back around and exited into the sights of 8-12 of Phoenix finest. I shut the door, yelled at the kids who had awoken during the to lay down on the floor and not move (worried now about stray LE bullets) while I made a quick check for any body else in the house. I then got on the phone with the dispatcher and followed her instructions.

I was glad I did not kill him, I think I was willing to do whatever it took. What would you have done? Was I wrong?
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Old January 20, 2006, 02:38 PM   #2
Bo Hunter
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Did you press charges? What happened to him? Who was he?
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Old January 20, 2006, 02:43 PM   #3
SMITH910
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Obviously you were wrong in leaving the door unlocked, I can't fathom that. So he didn't say a word the whole time? Sounds like you did everything right, why did you not take the .45 to begin with if you heard the door? If he chased you upstairs, could you have gotten the gun out of the safe in time? I wonder what his deal was? Glad you are okay.
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Old January 20, 2006, 02:44 PM   #4
Phxdog
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Once the cops got him to (once again) get his hand out where THEY could see them, they cuffed him & found out he lived in the neighborhood. They speculated he wanted to commit 'suicide by cop' or by me.

He was charged & pled guilty (I have forgotton to what charge; six years ago), I was not even asked to testify. Got a letter sometime later from the Sheriff's Dept. with the details of his case. Never heard from him again.
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Old January 20, 2006, 02:46 PM   #5
urbanassault
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That is CRAZY, glad you and your family are safe. I would have been really hard pressed not to let one go, I definately believe you did the right thing. If it where my home he probably would've recieved one or at LEAST the butt end of my 870. I commend you for not taking a life, from what you have said he didnt seem to put an immediate threat on your life or you familys but you never know that. Doors should always be locked, breaking in rather than walking in would almost certainly end in death.
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Old January 20, 2006, 02:47 PM   #6
Runsalone
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Holy crap!! Just reading that set my spine a tingling
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Old January 20, 2006, 02:49 PM   #7
Phxdog
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Yeah, I still wonder how I could have been so stupid to leave the door unlocked (it's never unlocked now).

I would have to say if he were to have followed me back to the bedroom, I would not have made it to the pistol safe at the side of the bed. My wife knows the combo, It could have gotton real ugly.
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Old January 20, 2006, 02:54 PM   #8
WhyteP38
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I've had occasions where I needed to check the house, and I've always brought Mr. Springfield or Mr. Winchester along. One time the guy was someone whom I learned later was looking to buy some drugs from a dealer and got the wrong address. I was glad to have a friend with me. The other times were all false alarms. I was still glad to have a friend with me.

Going back to grab your gun seems like a tactically poor decision to me. Defeats the purpose of having a gun in the first place. The guy could have shot you first, or he could have followed you and put you and your wife in danger.

As to whether you should have shot the guy, that's a decision only a person in the situation can make.
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Old January 20, 2006, 03:05 PM   #9
LICCW
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You did great

Did you make tactical errors? Yes. Should the door have been locked? Yes. But that's all monday morning quarterbacking. Its not how you play the game. Its whether you win or lose. You won. Congratulations! Best to learn from what you think you should have done, but always remember you came out alive as did all of your loved ones. Great job! Now keep that damn door locked!
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Old January 20, 2006, 03:08 PM   #10
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First and foremost congrats on coming out of that alive and in one piece. You posted the incident here so I assume you want to hear teh constructive observations of your esteemed fellow shooters. So here it goes.

1. Keep your door locked! (But you already knew this and I am certain do this now.)

2. Dogs are good. Having a dog may have driven him off at best and at worst, with a good dog, had let you know something was really wrong sooner.

3. Don't investigate "bumps in the night" unless you are ready to deal with the worst case scenario, ie bring the gun with you. (I keep a www.smartcarry.com next to the bed and just throw it on, even if I am only in my underwear. The gun is in my hand, as is a flashlight, but I at least have a place for my reload and to put my gun if I need to pick soemthing up that fell downstairs.)

4. In addition to the bed side pistol have a bed side cell phone/charger. If the home invader leaves a phone off the hook downstairs your land line call for help will not get out.

5. After encounterring a BG in your home, or if you are certain there is one, do not confront them unless you have to to protect a life. THis guy now knew you were there and awake, he could have easily been waiting for you to come down again. Make the call for help and wait for the cavalry from a defensible postion. Stair wells are great for that, especially with a shotgun.

6. 21 feet & 2 seconds. A knife armed, or otherwise motivated opponent, can reach you on average in 2 seconds from 21 feet away. If you are in your home, with a gun pointed at an invader and they proceed to close on you the safest bet for you and your family is to shoot. I am willing to bet your living room encounter was more like 10 feet. If this nut had charged you perhaps you would have hit him, perhaps not. Perhaps the hit would have stopped him but there is a strong chance you were going to be fighting for control of the gun or to keep him from inflicting a knife wound. Your desire not to take a life was noble but in my opinion it was misplaced. You and your familys' lives come first. He refused to show his hands and advanced on you after being challenged. Fire until the threat is removed.

7. Assuming you are taken out and he either has his own gun or yours now, what is your wife supposed to do to stop him? Mine has a Remington 870 and is waiting at the top of the stairs for my "all clear honey." She knows if I say "All clear Debbie" to not let down her gaurd. Her name is not Debbie.
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Old January 20, 2006, 03:11 PM   #11
Ghost Rider
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When he turned to come at you how far away was he?
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Old January 20, 2006, 03:16 PM   #12
EBF
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Phxdog......I have to say, you displayed ENORMOUS restraint. I'm not sure what the laws as far as home intruders are in Arizona, possibly that had something to do with it, but nonetheless, he's very lucky to be alive.

It's hard to say how I would react in that situation. The worst part about it was the hands in the pockets thing. Add the fact that your family was there makes it even more dicey.

I live in FL so the laws as far as home break-ins are concerned are very pro-homeowner (you are permitted to use deadly force whether the BG is armed or not), so I would have to guess he would have left in a bag. I would have a given him a chance to comply with my demands (hands out of pockets and leave), but that would not have lasted long. I think the first sign of him not complying would have resulted in him being taken down.

One question..........the living room where all this went down......did you turn the lights on when you went back down? The only thing that would also make me hesitant would be if you could not confirm his identity. Not sure if you would have an older son that might have been out partying and was trying to sneak back in.

Nonetheless, glad to hear you and your family made it through unharmed. Could have been MUCH worse.
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Old January 20, 2006, 04:11 PM   #13
WhyteP38
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LICCW:

Phxdog won, but in this instance the more important question is why did he win? Through luck or through his actions? From the description, he got lucky. Problem with luck is that you can't count on it. Change one factor and maybe he would have lost.

He didn't really take charge of the situation; the intruder didn't take charge of the situation; luck did. Taking charge doesn't necessarily mean shooting; it means gaining control over the situation as much as you can. Musketeer has it 100% right.

Did Phxdog make serious mistakes? I believe so. That doesn't make him a bad person; it makes him human, and smart humans learn from their mistakes. We already know Phxdog is smart because he's seeking advice. Is all of this Monday morning quarterbacking? Yes. But that's the purpose of analyzing these incidents: to study them, find the pluses and minuses, and see where improvements can be made. To say, "Hey, you got lucky! You won!" does nothing to help improve his odds if something like this happens again. If he does the exact same thing next time, he might not be so lucky. And he might not win.

Phxdog:

I wouldn't sweat any of this or take it personally. This is education. You did better than a lot of other people who have simply frozen like deer in the same situation. You showed you can still think and act under pressure. I just hope this forum can give you some helpful ideas on improvements, that's all.
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Old January 20, 2006, 04:30 PM   #14
rapier144
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If everything worked out ok then you didn't do anything wrong.(besides not locking the door) But i wouldn't have given ground to retrieve my pistol. I would have dealt with him with my empty hands. But thats only me like i said if it all worked out then you did ok!
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Old January 20, 2006, 04:45 PM   #15
High Planes Drifter
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3. Don't investigate "bumps in the night" unless you are ready to deal with the worst case scenario, ie bring the gun with you.
-------------------------------------------------

+1. Always be prepared. Glad your ok!
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Old January 20, 2006, 04:59 PM   #16
mete
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Door locked. Proper sequence - get gun, wake wife and have her call 911Investgate noise ,never get close to intruder ,use cover. Assume he is armed and dangerous .Give orders -loud, clear, brief- if he doesn't obey them - shoot.
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Old January 20, 2006, 05:26 PM   #17
Phxdog
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Thanks for the great input so far. I am very interested in hearing insight and instruction that you guys (& gals) have to offer with respect to this encounter.

To answer some of the questions. . .

I turned the light on when after I got the gun and had him covered. It was on the way to where he was.

When he turned around at the door & put his hands back into his pockets, I was about 8 feet away.

It turned out this guy did not have anything but hands in his pockets. He had no previous criminal record.

The idea of not going back for the gun is an interesting one. I might have been able to take this guy, he was pretty well built but I had a good 75 pounds on him.

I found out later that my 17-year old son was standing at one end of the living room holding one of those little giveaway baseball bats, ready to defend the family. I never remember even seeing him. Tunnel vision?

After they had the intruder in custody, I spoke to the Officers who came out on the call. (That was an event of its own, I had to open my door to 8 pumped up officers who don't know if I'm a nut or another BG.) Anyway, after going through the situation they said that there would not have been an officer on the force who would not have shot this guy. I would have to agree, I was tactically wrong in not stopping a threat. I'm glad both of us lived through this, but as has been pointed out it could easily have turned out very badly. I had 9 other people in that house that might have been hurt/killed. If I would have fired, I don't believe I would have been in the wrong and would have had to live with the fact that he was in fact, unarmed. How could I have known?

I know have a very alert dog (boxer) who only barks at first hint of someone approaching the house, but happily not at other dogs.

I now investigate threats with a USP45 and a Surefire.

My biggest concern/joy/challenge is still having 7 kids at home who all have a million friends who like to hang out at my house. I'm careful not to be trigger happy.

Bottom line: I did fear for my life (as I had to tell the Police at least 6 or 7 times that night). I did not want this guy getting to any of my kids. I was also worried about having a bunch of cops with guns in my house hunting down a possible armed BG.

Afterwards I also wondered, if I would have shot this guy, would some prosecutor make a big deal of the stack of back issues of Guns & Ammo, Handguns, etc.? Would my gun safe containing a dreaded AK-47 among 6 or 7 other weapons have been a big deal?
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Old January 20, 2006, 05:45 PM   #18
WhyteP38
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If you had shot the guy, I don't think you would have been morally or legally wrong. The guy was putting out very strong threat messages even if he wasn't talking. But like I said in my first post, the decision to pull the trigger is up to the guy in the situation. Lots of other things going on at the time that I'm sure you can't adequately capture in an Internet forum post.

As for being able to take the guy because you have 75 pounds on him, I would not assume that. Attitude and other factors, such as being drugged up, can make huge differences. For example, when I lived in California, there was a guy who had won some sort of major judo competition, one of those "people competing from all over the world" sort of things. This guy had something like 15-20 years of experience and was very beefy. Shortly after the competition--within a week, I think--some young street punk with a knife tried to rob him. The judo guy decided to fight back and lost his life. The little punk had apparently grown up on some mean streets, knew how to handle a knife, and didn't give a rat-squat about killing people.
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Old January 20, 2006, 05:55 PM   #19
Musketeer
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Quote:
My biggest concern/joy/challenge is still having 7 kids at home who all have a million friends who like to hang out at my house.
EEK!!!! I think my wife would keep ME out of the bedroom with the shotgun after 2 or 3. We have one now and that is trying enough...
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Old January 20, 2006, 06:07 PM   #20
Phxdog
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That's why I eventually got interested in guns rather than, well. . . you know.
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Old January 20, 2006, 06:11 PM   #21
Lutefisk
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You did great,man.

I'm new here so I'll say "howdy." I think you showed fine judgement and were more than merciful towards the scumbag that felt he could walk into your house AT NIGHT no less.
Now, as far as your door being unlocked-of course that's bad and could have been TERRIBLE for you had you fired. I think the scumbag's relatives would have claimed you were sitting up late waiting for prowlers etc.... Keep in mind that the locked door is no real deterrant either-however if an a-hole smashes your window and comes in AT NIGHT I say the stakes get weighed much more heavily in your favor if things "go sour."
Lastly, I hope you are able to feel secure in your home and that the kids are ok too.
Y'see, even when you don't shoot there are emotional wounds.
You did damn good.
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Old January 20, 2006, 06:17 PM   #22
Wildalaska
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Quote:
were more than merciful towards the scumbag that felt he could walk into your house AT NIGHT no less.
And if that scumbag was mentally ill?

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Old January 20, 2006, 06:24 PM   #23
spacemanspiff
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whoa nelly! are you suggesting wildalaska, that the armed citizen should not pull the trigger until slide lock on an intruder?

i'd be the laughing stock of the mallninjas if i didnt take the pre-emptive strike against an intruder!
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Old January 20, 2006, 06:31 PM   #24
Wildalaska
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are you suggesting wildalaska, that the armed citizen should not pull the trigger until slide lock on an intruder?
Sick isnt it...suggesting that under some circumstances one shouldnt just blow the scumbag away.....I should be ashamed Im sorry

WildwimpAlaska
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Old January 20, 2006, 06:33 PM   #25
BreacherUp!
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Phxdog, I will add this one observation: You should have proned the guy out in your living room instead of asking him to get up and leave. Action beats reaction. Since you ordered him to get up and get out, he now has more options open to him. Prone him out and wait for the police. If he makes a move from there, it will be much harder to get at you, and consequently should make up your deadly force decision for you.
Glad you're ok.
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