Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Byron Smith

The vast majority of the defensive gun uses that occur every day in this country save innocent victims from people who would do them harm. And while there are certainly exceptions, police and prosecutors, by and large, tend to give defenders the benefit of the doubt, either based on the circumstances, common sense or because they’re bound by local laws (see: stand your ground and castle doctrine). And while we like nothing better than to trumpet DGUs here, we tend to dispense one consistent bit of advice to anyone who’s put in the uncomfortable position of having to defend himself with a firearm: STFU. Don’t say anything to anyone until your lawyer gets there. Given the circumstances surrounding a Thanksgiving DGU outside a small central Minnesota town, all the yakking the shooter’s done after the fact probably couldn’t have made the situation much worse. But it sure hasn’t helped . . .

Byron Smith was in his basement Thursday when he heard a window break and then footsteps on the floor above him. Smith told police that he’d had a number of break-ins and was worried that his uninvited Thanksgiving Day guests were armed. So he grabbed his Mini 14 and waited until Nicholas Brady came down the stairs.

Smith said he fired when Brady came into view from the waist down.

After the teen fell down the stairs, Smith said he shot him in the face as he lay on the floor.

“I want him dead,” the complaint quoted Smith telling an investigator.

Smith said he dragged Brady’s body into his basement workshop, then sat down on his chair.

Brady’s partner in crime was his cousin, Haile Kifer. Haile was either hard of hearing or none too bright because after the shots fired at Brady, she came down the basement stairs, too.

(Smith) shot her as soon as her hips appeared, he said.

Though Kifer was “already hurting,” she let out a short laugh, Smith told investigators. He then pulled out his .22-caliber revolver and shot her several times in the chest, according to the complaint.

After shooting her with both the Mini 14 and the .22-caliber revolver, he dragged her next to Brady. With her still gasping for air, he fired a shot under her chin “up into the cranium,” the complaint says.

“Smith described it as ‘a good clean finishing shot,’” according to the complaint.

But even after all that, Byron didn’t bother to call the police until the next day. That’s when he asked a neighbor to recommend a good lawyer and call the cops for him. When asked why he delayed, he told police “he didn’t want to trouble (them) on a holiday.”

Smith’s now facing two charges of second degree murder. While he undoubtedly had cause to fear the burglars who’d broken into his home, could he have done anything to make what happened any worse?

Probably, but you’ll have to give us some time to come up with exactly how. No, the hash he made of the whole thing is pretty much an object lesson in what not to do both during and after a defensive gun use.

As Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said, “The law doesn’t permit you to execute somebody once a threat is gone.” Truer words….    [h/t Patrick C.]