You couldn’t pay me enough to enter a trailer to roust a homeless man snoozing next to a shotgun. I’m not trained enough to clear a sink, never mind a trailer. Then there’s the question of motivation. What the hell’s this got to do with me? While I love my community like Bill O’Reilly loves Bill O’Reilly, I don’t love it enough to tool-up and detain someone who hasn’t done sweet FA to me or mine. Apparently, I’m a wimp. At least compared to these guys, who took the law in their own hands re: one Lee E. Nash. “John Kusar Jr., Austinburg Township trustee and owner of the property on which Nash was discovered, said he and two other men armed themselves after Kusar searched the camper and found Nash sleeping there with the gun. ‘We had him pinned down, and we were all armed.'” According to starbeacon.com, that’s not all he said . . .

Kusar said the citizens who surrounded the trailer armed themselves with a pistol, assault rifle and 30/ 30 rifle. The guns were not fired, but Kusar said the men were serious about protecting themselves if Nash came out shooting.

“If he had come out of that trailer (before the deputies got there), we would have had to call the coroner,” Kusar said.

Them’s fightin’ words! Or, alternatively, dyin’ words. For someone. And not necessarily Nash, neither.

Kusar said the deputies arrived about 10 minutes after the Sheriff’s Department was alerted to the situation. According to the Sheriff’s Department report, Nash went for his weapon when the deputy awoke him. The report makes no mention of the citizens having been armed.

Gee, I wonder why that is? Mind you the lynch mob—sorry, concerned citizens—had reason to believe Nash was a bad, bad man. There was plenty of precipitation, and I don’t mean rain.

The precipitating event that sent the men searching for Nash, formerly of Route 46 North, was a breaking-and-entering incident at the home of an elderly Allen Road resident. The female victim reportedly was injured by the intruder and required hospitalization.

Nash was linked to the crime by the discovery of two pillowcases with wine bottles and shotgun shells near the Western Reserve Greenway Trail and Lampson Road, an Ashtabula County sheriff’s report said. The items in the pillowcases were identified as belonging to the injured woman, the report shows.

According to the report, Nash was arrested recently for other burglaries: On July 17, Nash was arrested after people attending a block party in Austinburg Township came home to find him in their garage with stolen property from their residence. On June 21, Nash was arrested for burglary at a Clay Street residence . . .

The men suspected that Nash had stolen a gun during one of the burglaries and prepared themselves for an encounter.

“We armed ourselves because he was armed,” Kusar said.

Yes, yes. But why didn’t these citizens leave Nash to the lawmen?

The men took the investigation into their own hands because the Sheriff’s Department lacks the manpower to do investigations, because of budget cuts.

“It’s a damned shame the Ashtabula County commissioners will fund the Geneva State Lodge and not fund the sheriff,” Kusar said.

Huh. So Kusar and his pals tried to get the Sheriff’s department to do something and they refused because they didn’t have enough money to investigate? And yet the sheriffs had enough manpower to respond to the posse’s phone call 10 minutes later.

Regardless of police efficacy, there are lots of reasons why deputizing yourself is a bad idea. And no really good ones.

4 Responses to Ohio Vigilantes “Arrest” Homeless Man

  1. They were just doing what they were told to do:

    “Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Alfred Mackey was asked what residents should do to protect themselves and their families with the severe cutback in law enforcement. ‘Arm themselves,’ the judge said.”

    http://thetruthaboutguns.com/2010/04/robert-farag

    http://thetruthaboutguns.com/2010/04/donal-fagan/

    But money does seem to be tight in Ashtabula:

    Ashtabula County coroner's office is broke

    Coroner workers may not get paid

    http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/news/local_news/Ashta

    The Ashtabula County Coroner is dead broke.

    Actually, $40 remains in the third quarter payroll account and the quarter doesn't end until Sept. 30.

    Without action by the Ashtabula County Board of Commissioners, coroner's office employees won't get checks next payday.

    According to Auditor Corlett, Ashtabula County is operating with 20 percent less revenue than last year. There have been layoffs, cutbacks and cost saving measures implemented county wide.

  2. Thanks for reminding us.

    Some dope interprets the judge's recommendation as encouragement for pro-active self-defense (oxymoronically speaking) and the anti-gun brigade gets fresh ammunition.

    Sigh.

  3. So Kusar and his pals tried to get the Sheriff’s department to do something and they refused because they didn’t have enough money to investigate? And yet the sheriffs had enough manpower to respond to the posse’s phone call 10 minutes later.

    Reminds me of an old joke–Homeowner calls to report people breaking into his garage, dispatcher says nobody will be available for at least 45 minutes. A minute later, the homeowner calls 911 again, and says "No need to hurry, I shot and killed them all". Minutes later police arrive, find the criminals alive and unharmed inside the garage and arrest them. "I thought you said you shot them all?" "Well, I thought you said nobody was available!"

    We can't tell if this is vigilantism without knowing what they would have actually done if Nash had challenged them. Going armed and trying to hold him for police by use of threats and bluff is not vigilantism. Shooting to prevent his escape would be.

  4. A private citizen can not "hold" someone for police. That's kidnapping and God knows what else. Here's something relevant from Wikipedia:

    "All states other than North Carolina permit citizen arrests if a felony crime is witnessed by the citizen carrying out the arrest, or when a citizen is asked to help apprehend a suspect by the police. The application of state laws varies widely with respect to misdemeanor crimes, breaches of the peace, and felonies not witnessed by the arresting party. Note particularly that American citizens do not have the authorities or the legal protections of the police, and are strictly liable before both the civil law and criminal law for any violation of the rights of another."

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