courtesy abcnews.go.com

By James S.

There’s nothing like being woken in the early morning to the frantic door knock of a neighbor. I answered the door in my boxers and with my handgun in a holster. I saw that it was my next door neighbor, and her first words sent a shiver through me. “I need you, quick. Darren is killing Mandy!” Darren being a neighbor across the street, and Mandy his On again-off again and the mother of his child. Without hesitation, I started across the street. My wife screamed after me ‘You don’t have any pants!” . . .

No time for pants. As a child from an abusive household and someone who can’t stand domestic violence, I was on a mission. The lady is maybe 125 lbs. and Darren is over 300 lbs. and not a fat man.

As I entered the home the two shared, I walked in the open door, and saw him standing over her with his hands on her throat. “Darren!” I screamed. He looked at me, and turned back to what he was doing. I grabbed him with my off hand, and hauled him off of her and toward the kitchen. He looked up and saw he was now in his living room, but started to get up and go back to her again.

I pulled my gun from the holster and told him he needed to stop, that he needs to step outside and away from her. The sight of a barrel seems to snap him out of it for a minute. He walked outside and tried to explain to me that he’s going to kill her because she was driving drunk with their toddler in the car all evening. I tell him that there is no excuse for what he was doing, and he gets a second wind.

He tried to break past me and I made it inside the door before he did. I stumbled over the threshold, and he came down on top of me. As I tried to push him off of me, I unholstered again and as I did, he raised his fist as though he were going to hit me. Then he looked at my gun again and stopped. My wife had come at this point to bring me some shorts and a shirt, and advised us that the police were on the way.

Luckily, Darren finally gave in to the fact that he wasn’t going to do any further harm that night and walked out to his car. I had my wife remove my gun from the scene and the police showed up. Guns drawn, they figured out who was who, and cuffed him. They asked who had the gun and I told them it was mine, but it had been put away. The officer who responded said that he was very surprised the man was alive with things happening as they did.

A realization hit me. Several times during the altercation, I was legally within rights to pull the trigger. I was defending someone else who was in desperate fear for her life, and I was in fear for mine. All of this is to explain something commonly overlooked.

It should never be a matter of can I shoot, but do I have to shoot. We as armed members of society carry a heavy burden. We are sheepdogs for those who cannot or will not defend themselves. This burden we have placed on ourselves because we value life. Never forget that.

We value life. By keeping the mindset that you only shoot when you have to, you maintain that tenet to the fullest. Carry on.

129 Responses to P320 Entry: Knowing When You Have to Shoot

  1. Good story. Good non shoot.

    It is a fine line that some do not see. We do not carry because we want to use it. I am reminded of several long time law enforcement people I have know that never used their duty weapon in 20+ years of service. Some never even drew them.

    Course that was before the current militrazation of our police by the drug war.

    • Of course it was a good “no shoot” because here he is to tell about it. Had Darren killed Mandy, James and his wife, this would have been retitled “Should Have Been a DGU”. This is just one story and unique to its circumstances but should not be used as a training scenario that may cause someone to hesitate and get killed.
      Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to make contact with a violent person when you have a gun. James was close enough to Darren a couple times that Darren could have fought for the gun and taken it. I take it that James trusted Darren somewhat.

      • Monday morning quarterbacking here but a good idea would have been to let your wife hold the gun before you got into the scrap. You may have been able to break it up without the gun in close quarters but if not then your wife could take proper steps, assuming she is capable.

  2. Carry on, Aye. Well written and a valid point. I say you choose well, citing while in your right, he was known to you. This is one I would say the mother beater was wrong of many levels and could address this drunk driving with kids a different way.

    If had to experience the same event, my hope would be the same level of restraint.

  3. Lucky he didn’t take your gun and shoot her. Sounds like he had the upper hand more than once. You were fighting him 1 handed.

    • I will only shoot if absolutely necessary, but I would never do what you did and approach him. Closing the gap when you are armed and they are not takes away a major advantage of a firearm, reduces the equalizing effect, and is very dangerous. While I commend you, you got very lucky.

        • One of the most important lessons I learned from disarming guns in Martial Arts class is that hands can be lightening fast when you’re within arms reach. Keep your distance when armed and if the gun needs to be out, then it needs to be on the aggressor.

  4. I’m glad it all worked out and that you had the self-control not to shoot him. I’m not condoning what you did — I honestly disagree pretty strongly with a lot of your decisions — but I’m glad you kept your head about you.

    That said, you took a hell of a risk. And, for whatever it is worth, I’m saying this as a lawyer. In many states your entry into their home was illegal. And your entry into their home with a firearm would have allowed him to shoot and kill you. Right then and there. No questions asked. And, quite frankly, in a number of states, had you chosen to shoot him, there’s a very good chance you would have been indicted for some degree of attempted murder (or, at least, assault). I get that you’re into the whole “I’m a sheepdog thing” — but you may also wish to reflect on the fact that you face a host of threats when you choose to involve yourself in a domestic, and that you’re not only gambling your freedom, you’re gambling your life, your financial well being, and the financial and emotional well being of your family.

    • Although I respect and abide by the law, if abiding by the said laws means that oppression will prevail and innocent lives will be lost, then I say screw those laws.

      I’d much prefer spending some (or perhaps even all) of my life in a cell rather than living on the outside knowing that innocent souls perished due me observing a technicality in jurisprudence.

      That having been said, I’m not certain what I would do were I in James’ shoes… er… boxers. However, I’d like to think that I’d fallow in his footsteps… I mean drawers. Man this metaphor is really falling apart. I need my coffee.

      • “I’d much prefer spending some (or perhaps even all) of my life in a cell rather than living on the outside knowing that innocent souls perished due me observing a technicality in jurisprudence.”

        That’s certainly your choice. Having more than a bit of experience in this area, I can assure you that the legal issue I raised is about as far removed from a “technicality in jurisprudence” as you can get.

        And, again, having represented a number of folks looking at the rest of their life in prison, I can’t tell you what a horrifying prospect that should be for anyone. It’s a lot easier to say in the abstract, than to have to live it in the actuality.

        Finally, the bigger risk to an intervenor in a domestic dispute getting killed by one of the participants in the dispute — not going to jail for intervening. Most of the cops I come into contact with in my work despite having to respond to domestics — simply because of the number of times they pull the husband/boyfriend off of the wife/gf only to have her turn around and attack the cop.

        • Also, it’s not always so easy to know who was the attacker and who was the defender. In this case it was probably clear, but it could also be that you walk up on a man choking a woman because she had just stabbed him on the side of his body you can’t see.

          I think the forbearance of the defender in this case turned out to be very prudent.

        • Good points all, and perhaps part of the reason OP didn’t shoot was a subconscious recognition of the bad legal position. Also, in his defense, it sounds like he knew them awfully well to be (justifiably) shot just for walking in. I’d say that one’s a real mess legally on many levels.

        • Having more than a little experience in this area you could have made a better argument if you cited one case of a lifer that was just defending someone.

    • This is a great response and thought provoking enough that an entirely new post could be created for it. At what point, in the process of someone killing someone else in their own home, is entry by an armed or unarmed defender legal?

      Alternatively, when is it justified?

      Seems those two things don’t quite match up.

      • In terms of law it really depends on the state. It also depends on the fact that what happens after someone enters another home to protect a resident from another resident — from a legal standpoint — is largely dependent on the political climate where it happens. Basically, it could be illegal in your state, but in a county that is run by someone who sees your point of view — or it’s a big anti violence against women sort of county — you’re going to walk. Same state, same facts, but different county? You’ll go to jail.

        • When I sat through my wife’s concealed carry course with her, the instructor told us a story highlighting your point. A friend of his in college was renting a room from a lady. She had an abusive boyfriend that she refused to leave. One evening, the friend heard a commotion down stairs. There had been many fights before, but this one was exceptionally violent. The friend came downstairs to find the boyfriend beating the ever-living crap out of the landlady. The friend yelled at the guy to stop and when he didn’t, the friend ran upstairs and retrieved his handgun. He came back down stairs and pointed the gun at the boyfriend, ordering him to stop. The boyfriend must have been too angry to notice the gun or care and continued to beat her. The friend shot him in the back ans he later died at the hospital. Good shoot, right? Unfortunately, the landlady claimed that she believed the boyfriend was not going to kill her and was therefore not in fear for her life. The friend was charged with Manslaughter and convicted to 15 years in prison. I believe all this went down in Virginia.

          While I appreciate the sentiment of mb above, I am not risking jail time for a non-loved one. I’m not going to jail for 15 years because some person is too stupid to get out of an abusive relationship or arm themselves. It’s one thing if we are in a gas station parking lot and the attacker has a weapon and the victim is screaming in terror for help. However, I am not entering someone else’s house. Period.

        • i agree that until my statement is manifested in the realm of actions, it’s nothing more than a hollow slogan. i simply stated what i’d expect of myself should i ever be faced with a similar situation.

          some of the users have commended the op’s acts while others have been critical of getting himself involved. what each individual would do in that particular situation is their prerogative and i respect that.

          the reason why i refer to some of these laws as jurisprudential technicalities is for the very reason you mentioned. it’s not the act itself which will determine if you’ll be put behind bars, rather the local laws and ordinances, the jury you appear before, etc.

          the laws established by man are often imperfect and unjust. the way i see it, we abide by many of these laws in hopes of either a) maintaining social order and peace or b) preventing ourselves from getting into trouble. for example, as supporters of the 2nd amendment, i think most of us would agree that the gun laws in states like ca, il, and ny are largely unconstitutional, or at the very least, unjust. yet, most of us (myself included) abide by those laws.

          if matter as serious as life and death is at stake, i personally think the right thing to do is to act upon your inherent disposition to promote good and inhibit evil. if your actions happen to be in sync with the law, great. if not, call your lawyer asap.

        • I’d say that is just about as clearly as it could be stated. As above, there is so much going on there that prosecutorial discretion would have to figure heavily, though I think if you actually witnessed from outside what any reasonable person would believe to be a lethal assault in progress you could mount a defense that would prevail regardless of the prosecutor. I think the more interesting legal question regards the home owner. What if he shoots the defender under the same circumstances? That’s going to get dicey!

    • Quote the States and the Law on this please. I completely disagree and call you out on this post.

      Ability, Opportunity and Jeopardy. Hands around throat. Disparity of force. He was killing her and said so. Multiple witnesses.

      Ive taken Mas Ayoob’s MAG 20 class (armed citizens rules of engagement) and the 300lb boyfriend met all criteria for the legal use of lethal force in any state inside that house. She would have been dead by the time cops got there. Clearly articulatable legal use of lethal force to stop the imminent threat of her death.

      Heck, he even said he was killing her.

      The DA can indight a ham sandwich. That doesnt mean he is right or ethical on a clear affirmative defense case.

  5. “It should never be a matter of can I shoot, but do I have to shoot. We as armed members of society carry a heavy burden.”

    You gambled your life and that of others around you on your judgement that shooting was unnecessary, and you won the gamble.

    We are not mind readers. The law allows shooting (in most jurisdictions) when a reasonable person would be in fear of imminent serious bodily harm to ourselves or others. If someone has the legal conditions to shoot it means that the threat is real, they accept a risk in witholding fire, not just to themselves but on behalf of others. We will never know until the situation is over whether we’ve made the right call …

    • True, but…. as the attorney points out above, when you enter another person’s home uninvited and armed, YOU are not the one who is in reasonable fear for his life – the homeowner is. So the precepts of self defense become very complicated indeed.

      • But James did not enter his neighbor’s home uninvited. One of the neighbor’s children who lived at the house invited James over and asked for James to help. It would be silly to claim that an invited guest cannot use deadly force (whether with their fists or a firearm) to save the life of a resident or guest in the home.

    • Well said, and the hardest thing to convey sometimes in retrospect (and to some people). Sometimes instincts or guesses or whatever make it feel like a good gamble when you’re in a justifiable shoot situation but choose not to. I think everyone has their own risk tolerances and of course their own way of assessing risk. The same situation might (rightfully) terrify one reasonable person while merely being a cause for concern to another. The decision to use lethal force has to be subjective, and this is reflected in SD law.

  6. It’s all well and good that it turned out well, however, how will you feel next week when she’s back with him (if she’s not already)?

    You’re now going to enable her bad choices and be known as her personal security when things go wrong. It is irresponsible for you to jeopardize your own family, life, etc, for someone else who chooses to put themselves in danger.

      • My family trumps all other families for my part, so I don’t see his comment as out of line, assuming such a situation could create a legitimate threat to the safety and well-being of the good Samaritan and their family.

      • No, William, you’re out of line; go have another drink.

        It’s getting really old to constantly see the three or four (non-mod) self-appointed threadkeepers jump in to try to tell people what they can say in a public discourse.

      • Why?

        Ex-cop here. Don’t know how many domestics I responded to where the abused woman attacked me or another officer. Fellow officer stabbed in the back on his way out the door with the handcuffed perp by the very woman who had been screaming, “Help, he’s killing me!” mere moments earlier. Don’t know how many refused to sign complaints, before we left that to prosecutorial discretion.

        This is the most dangerous call a policeman responds to.

        I don’t pretend to understand the psychology involved, though I have some small insights. But my sympathy is limited for a willing participant. Nothing lower than someone who would physically abuse the one he has proclaimed to love, but she has to want to get out before you can help her. And many never get there.

  7. How many times has it happened that one uses force to defend a wife or girlfriend of a neighbor from deadly force, and then have the lady assault you, because of what you did to her “beloved”
    I’s a tough call, but if you use force, especially with a gun you had better be right, really right!

        • That’s not his problem, and as John A. Smith pointed out, he could have gotten himself killed or jailed, ruining the lives of him and his family.

        • Wow, Stan. You’d willingly let someone DIE because it’s “not your problem?”

        • JR,

          As I, and others, have pointed out: it’s not your place to “let” someone do anything. You have a responsibility to your family and yourself to not throw your life away.

          You don’t go into someone else’s house armed to solve their problems. Your job is to defend your family and yourself, not throw it all away over someone else’s repeated bad choices.

        • No sir, all your words are empty.

          Mark N. said, “She’d probably be dead by the time the police got there” and your response was “That’s not his problem.”

          You are basically saying you would sit by and allow another human being to be killed by an attacker because it’s not your problem?

          If so, that’s reprehensible.

          Add all the caveats on it you want and spin it for a ‘modern courtroom’ in any way that helps you sleep at night, but if you witness a life threatening attack and don’t get involved because, to use YOUR WORDS…”it’s not [my] problem,” then you, sir, are part of the larger problem we have in our society.

          I’m not talking about kicking in doors and being all tacticool…I’m simply addressing your one comment about not getting involved with something because it’s not your problem.

  8. gotta agree with a couple of the commenters above: invading someone else’s home, mostly naked, with a drawn gun at night to intervene in an altercation between two clearly pathological people (male/female) seems pretty questionable judgment.

    • What would you do, if a neighbor came running, telling you that another neighbor was being killed?

      Never mind, you already told us.

      • Never mind, you already told us.

        Wrong–I didn’t tell you. And the fact that you think I did says more about you than about me.

        Some things to do, that were left undone from the account given:

        1. Ask the neighbor if she called the police yet, and if she hasn’t do so ASAP.

        2. Put some pants on. A shirt, too.

        3. Leave the gun at home or holstered–leaving your home with a drawn gun based on a story you’ve heard in order to seek a confrontation with someone else will leave you open to a lot of misinterpretation if the gun is used. Waving a gun around in your hand in the situation as described is an invitation to compound the violence.

        4. Consider that you may be intervening in an emotionally charged situation based on the word of a third party, not your own knowledge. Statistically, violent domestic incidents are initiated almost evenly by men/women, yet James S. says:

        As a child from an abusive household and someone who can’t stand domestic violence, I was on a mission. The lady is maybe 125 lbs. and Darren is over 300 lbs. and not a fat man.

        Law enforcement missions are for the police and those who are trained to defuse them. James S. prejudged the situation and went into it with his mind made up. By his account, he was right, but it’s a questionable attitude given the complexity of these situations.

  9. Washington State homicide justification:
    “In the lawful defense of the slayer, or his or her husband, wife, parent, child, brother, or sister, or of any other person in his or her presence or company, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design on the part of the person slain to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury to the slayer or to any such person, and there is imminent danger of such design being accomplished”

    So from the “letter of the law” it would seem justified in Washington. But it’s an excellent example of what may meet the letter of the law but might be a criminal or civil nightmare depending on how aggressive local authorities are (“you ran into their home looking for a fight didn’t you!”). Outside of the Seattle metropolitan area you’re probably good. In the city? Fuggedaboutit. One of those “what is legal” vs. “what is right” vs. “what is tactically sound” situations that I think we all hope and pray we don’t find ourselves in. Glad everyone made it out of this event upright and breathing.

  10. I had three incidents involving criminal actions against my property. Not once did I have to discharge my firearm. There has to be thousands of stories like mine that never get reported or counted.

  11. If it’s two brothers (siblings, I mean) fighting, don’t EVER intervene! They’ll BOTH turn on you. Seen it too many times.

  12. “We are sheepdogs for those who cannot or will not defend themselves.”

    “Can not”? Absolutely. I’ll stand up for those who are unable to adequately defend themselves.

    “Will not”? Not so sure. Why should I put myself in danger for someone who has chosen to place so little value on their own life and safety?

  13. Hair raising story, but I applaud anyone who tries to stop domestic violence or abuse. Glad you didn’t have to shoot, though.

  14. This article has my most vehement vote for winning entry.

    Time and again, I am buffeted on this site by people screaming for the blood of and celebrating the deaths of criminals and the like. It is a refreshing change hear an anecdote that so eloquently points out that just because you can legally end a life, doesn’t mean you have to, or even should.

    Bravo!

    • +1

      I am a bit bloodthirsty, or so I have been told. Still, I always try to avoid causing damage (killing). Might have gotten me beat up a time or three, but that is better than killing them.

      Heard somewhere that a smart man knows how to draw his gun quickly, but not shoot quickly.

      • What exactly is unclear about a 300 lb man choking a 125 lb woman on the floor? And…with the man saying out loud he intends to kill her

        Is there any justification for that…for just letting that go?

        • This sounds like a situation where in the movies they’d fire a “warning shot.” Is that a whole nother topic, or am I already speaking unicorn farts?

    • Not mine. I like DGU personal stories but they are rare and axiomatically interesting. That is not fair to the majority of entries that have earned regard. Not that my submissions are considerable.

  15. I dunno, for a small guy I’ve always been pretty stout, but I ain’t as young as I used to be. If someone starts grappling with me while I’m armed and I get to it before they do, that’s it, I’m shooting. Especially if they knew I was armed and decided to tussle anyway.

    • That’s hearsay, for all we know she didn’t do that. Choking the wife/ girlfriend to the brink of death would just further escalate the situation.

  16. Kinda makes one think that the laws on warning shots need to be changed. It would be much safer (except legally) to put a round through the potted petunias then to walk armed into another person’s home.

    I am really glad that everything worked out, but you really took a hell of a risk both physically and legally.

  17. “We are sheepdogs for those who cannot or will not defend themselves.”

    No, we are not. That kind of attitude is going to get you arrested or killed. You are the protector of you and yours. You should have called 911 before you grabbed your gun and went on your little mission.

    • +1

      Although I would add that he shouldn’t have gone on this little white knight mission at all. He doesn’t know the facts or details of the situation and a lot of women love their abusers.

    • I have to agree, vehemently.

      I got into the middle of a similar situation years (decades, actually) ago, only with my pants and without a gun, no punches thrown or plates ducked, with only forced entry into what sounded like a 20-man wrecking crew taking apart a neighboring two-bedroom condo in SoCal. Boyfriend and girlfriend were at it in full force, with her throwing everything she could lay hands on, and he closing the distance to turn her into a punching bag. Lots of screaming at the top of lungs, etc.

      We should pause here to expand upon the situation: a) she was a “10” on any young man’s scale of appraisal, but as mad as a hatter, and b) well known for her outbursts whenever she didn’t get her way – at home, at work, with her family/friends/etc, and c) she moved into his condo. This last bit of information didn’t seem important to me then, but now would preclude me from getting involved beyond dialing 911.

      He was large, square-jawed, chiseled and all manner of the sort of hunk that makes many women get tingly in various parts of their anatomy. He was, however, somewhat bereft of intellectual gifts. While his career’s future was never going to be in quantum physics, I think he rather reasonably figured out that the reason why the sheets were messed up and the shower was still wet upon his return from work at 6pm wasn’t because he left them that way at 7 am when he left for work.

      And that’s when the fighting began.

      It was ‘splained to me (quite emphatically) by the responding LEO’s who were called by yet another neighbor, that I, while being a Nice Guy[tm] and all for breaking things up and getting him off of her, could be in for legal hassles if the man got a good lawyer. It was his domicile, and her rep as a plate-thrower could be used against any argument of mine for “exigent circumstances.” The LEO’s were nice and basically omitted my name from the write-up, mentioning my involvement as only “a nearby neighbor.”

      This was also the beginning of my forming some rather concrete ideas about women…

  18. BTW, am I the only one who suspects this was an exercise in creative writing? As a lawyer with 30 years in LE, too much of it doesn’t ring true. Of course, since Darren was arrested–for attempted murder, was it?–there will be a paper trail.

    • Who would admit to running through the neighborhood without pants if he actually did so? And what wife would swap a pair of her husband’s pants for his gun without first taking pictures?

      • Heh. Yeah, I’m trying to picture the scene. My female neighbor comes to the door in the dead of night and tells me: “I need you quick!” So I tell my wife, “I’ll be back, soon, hon!” and run off in my boxers/briefs.

        • What, that doesn’t happen to you all the time? I mean, of course there is no point in getting dressed, but o way I’m going out unarmed . . .

  19. Did you consider the fact that by intervening in a violent encounter that you could have widowed your wife and made your children fatherless?

    Did you consider the fact that your action, depending on what happened, could have landed you in jail for many years?

    If you knew that one of those would definitely happen would you have still acted?

    If you did not consider those possibilities, your decision to act was foolish beyond measure.

    if you did, you made and informed decision.

    I’m not saying that you should not have intervened, I am just stating that before doing so, ALL consequences must be weighed before deciding to act. If your death a worthwhile trade against a beating?

  20. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end when I read this account. As a former deputy sheriff in a large county with backup often 45-60 minutes away, I immediately imagined far too many ways this situation could have gone south and turned out much, much worse for every person involved.

    The only other situation that even approaches the potential danger of a domestic disturbance is a traffic stop on a stolen vehicle. While I don’t believe in the “21-foot rule”, the number of potential weapons immediately available should give anyone pause before entering another’s home. You are an interloper on their home turf, and that gives them a large number of very real advantages in a confrontation. Furthermore, as has already been noted, all sorts of “castle” laws and legal concepts put you on extremely shaky legal ground.

    The OP seems to use his growing up in an abusive home as a sort of justification for his chosen course of action, but I see it as just the opposite: he was dragging with him a bunch of emotional baggage into a situation that was already highly charged with emotion. That is not a recipe for calm and clear-headed thinking, which is exactly what is necessary to create the best chance of reaching the happiest-possible conclusion of the situation.

    Out of the hundreds of domestic disturbances I responded to, I can count on one hand the ones in which neither party was drunk, high, or both. People under the influence are unlikely to react reasonably to you interjecting yourself into what they consider to be a private situation. Indeed, their reactions to just about everything are likely to be very different from what you would expect based on everyday experience.

    Finally — and this has also been mentioned before — there is a great possibility that even the victim will not appreciate your involvement. The victim often reacts violently when he or she finds out that the aggressor is going to jail; what do you think the victim’s reaction is likely to be if you have to shoot — maybe kill — the aggressor? What will you do then? Shoot the victim, too?

    Rather than using this situation as a lesson on when justified lethal force should not be used, it should be viewed as a cautionary tale of exactly what NOT to do. Though my LEO days are behind me, I carry everywhere I go; I think of myself as one of the “sheep dog” protectors of society, where a trained and equipped person can make all of the difference in the world. Even so, presented with this situation, I would dial 9-1-1 and remain in my home, protecting my own family from harm. (it is not unheard of for a domestic abuser to go on a rampage to neighboring homes)

    • Really excellent point, Brian:

      The OP seems to use his growing up in an abusive home as a sort of justification for his chosen course of action, but I see it as just the opposite: he was dragging with him a bunch of emotional baggage into a situation that was already highly charged with emotion.

    • I really despise the idea that some self-sanctified people call themselves “sheepdogs” for the rest of us unwashed masses.

      • What, exactly, do you despise about it, Skyler? It isn’t some kind of exclusive club. If you aren’t comfortable with being a protected sheep, you are welcome — nay, invited! — to become trained and equip yourself to become a protector. Personally, I would love it if every American citizen were a protector, and there were no sheep who needed protection. Realistically, however, that will never be the case. There will always be sheep, and there will always be those who prey upon the sheep; the sheep and the predators are just not cut out for the protector role. This is not a bad thing, I am not belittling them (at least so far as the sheep are concerned — I condemn the predators outright). It just is what it is.

        • “… become trained and equip yourself to become a protector.”

          Nothing personal, but that’s one of the most arrogant, self-superior things I’ve ever heard.

          I neither want nor need your protection. It is the smug superiority of those who would appoint themselves my “protector” that is the metastasizing cancer that’s destroying Liberty for everyone.

    • Best reply yet, and you managed to articulate several ideas that wouldn’t coalesce in my coffee starved brain this AM. The situation is so bad tactically, legally and even ethically that although I’m willing to take substantial risks to ‘do the right thing’ by my code, even for a stranger, entering someone else’s home to break up a domestic just isn’t on the list.

      If just one tier was changed: Say, if it was a place I had an undeniable right to enter, maybe I would. If it were a not a domestic but a stranger(my live alone neighbor is screaming for help that a burglar is killing her) I’d go in.

      No one in the house is asking me to come in and a third party is telling me there is a domestic? Sitzkreig, I’ll be on the phone with the cops.

      You raised a good point about being attacked by the ‘victim’. Imagine explaining to the responding officers why you’re in your neighbors house in your underpants with a gun and a pair of dead bodies. I don’t think there is a defense conceivable that’s going to beat a murder conviction under those circumstances, and perhaps rightly so.

      It’s said that discretion is the better part of valor, and if that is understood properly, there are quite a few people who might rethink how much valor they ought to display.

  21. Props for your restraint. I feel like too often in the gun community people act about shooting as soon as they feel threatened. I glad you resolved the situation without having to fire a shot!

  22. “We as armed members of society carry a heavy burden. We are sheepdogs for those who cannot or will not defend themselves. ”

    What? Is this a serious statement? Nobody appointed ANYONE WITH A GUN to the position of Sheepdog. You are believing in all the interweb drivel now. If you own a gun, you are no different than before you did. You have no more “rights” or “powers” and no more “obligation” than anyone else. Period.

    Stepping inside the squared circle might seem like the gallant thing to do. But this isn’t 900 AD in merry ole England. Getting involved in a domestic dispute is well, crazy. Stay put. Call 911. Shelter the one broad who came for help. Without knowing the situation, who is to say there aren’t “friends” of these miscreants outside waiting to pile on? Who says the violence hasn’t moved elsewhere and you are caught literally flatfooted, in the dark? Who says some other neighbor called the police 10 minutes prior and while the one woman was running to you, they entered the home? Now you show up with gun in hand? Who is going to protect YOUR FAMILY while you are out playing Sir Galahad?

    Jesus H. Christ this is NUTS, plain NUTS.

    I am sorry but the level of thinking on TTAG is starting to disappoint me.

    • To add – this sort of thinking is exactly the sort of behavior that anti-gunners like to use as ammunition to throw at us. They argue that we get ourselves a gun, then think we are now some sort of vigilante law enforcers. Many of us go to great lengths to dispute this assertion, so it does not help when an account of just that sort of behavior turns up here on TTAG with many commenters shouting “bravo.”

      I can however understand however the philosophy that if you have the ability to make a difference, you have the moral obligation to do so. That said, there may be a bigger picture that needs to be considered-

      I’m not a cop and its not my job to enforce the law. It is irresponsible for me to put my family at risk in order to intervene in another’s fight. While I understand that many people feel the obligation to protect others, you are really only free to do that if no one else depends on you. If you are unmarried and have no dependents, then your life is truly your own and you are free to place it at risk. If there are other stakeholders, then you need to consider that it’s no longer just your life that is being placed at risk – it is the lives and well being of those who depend on you.

      Just as I would do whatever it took to protect my kids or my wife from a violent attack, I’d do the same thing – protect them by avoiding the sort of situation where I could get killed or go to jail for the rest of my life.

      • Jim Barrett, I would like to give you some food for thought. Just because you have delegated your police powers to someone else does not mean that you are incapable of exercising them. There was a time when there was no such thing as a police officer. People seem to have managed then. And I disagree with your statement that it isn’t your “job” to enforce the law. Of course it is. All power belongs to the people in this country. Whether we exercise it or not. Having said this I would think carefully about interjecting myself into this type of situation as there are definite consequences, both good and bad.

        Cordially,

        David

    • Maybe pick out one of those shiny CCW badges to flash in these situations? “Back off! I’m a sheepdog! Halt or I’ll shout ‘Halt’ again!”

    • Yup. The only “appointed” sheepdogs are cops — and look at the great job they do, terrorizing the sheep and killing their dogs.

    • I think I have to mostly agree. Interesting examination of the shoot/don’t shoot decision, but the lack of judgment here was being in the situation in the first place.

      Here we have stupid people doing stupid things, and inside another’s home uninvited is surely a stupid place, tactically and legally. This could rise to the level of an example of what no to do.

      As for the sheepdog stuff, the only burden I carry is to obey the law. I have the option of defense of self or others, but no real duty. I might even have the inclination to help others, but again not a duty. This would be one of those times where it would sure be nice to help the lady, but unfortunately she’s in a quandary I’m not climbing into to rescue her from. Precisely because it isn’t MY duty to do so, I’m a bad choice for the job. I’m big on self reliance, and on helping others, but there are some jobs that really are best left to the police and given the legalities and tactical issues involved in going uninvited into someone else’s house to break up a domestic this one is squarely in the ‘let the police handle it’ category.

  23. Frankly, if he had shot the attacker, I would’ve called it a good shoot.

    I will say this, the mother is clearly unfit, as is the father with his temper control issues, I hope that social services took the kid.

  24. “It should never be a matter of can I shoot, but do I have to shoot. ”

    …and that’s why you aren’t a cop, and why your behavior is so confusing to those who are cops.

  25. The world might have been better off all around if you just let him finish what he started.

    Seriously.

    In any event, she’s probably not worth going to prison for.

  26. “We are sheepdogs for those who cannot or will not defend themselves. This burden we have placed on ourselves because we value life. Never forget that.”

    Umm… No, no, and no.

  27. My first thought when I read this was I would’ve put him down by kicking him in the nuts or hitting him on the neck from behind. But reading the comments I have to agree with the lawyer and cops. Call the cops and stay out of it. Too risky, too many unknowns. When I did my ccw course the instructor asked Who are you willing to die for? He said that should be a very, very short list. He literally had just two: his wife and daughter. It really made me look at the whole Sheepdog idea. Are you sure about being a Sheepdog?

  28. I agree with most of the comments so far. Legally, the justification for threatening deadly force is identical to employing deadly force. That identical justification exists for a reason: so that people DON’T present their firearms prematurely and without sufficient justification, just to threaten someone. Those unjustified threats have a way of escalating a situation to the point that now deadly force actually is required, where it hadn’t been prior to the unjustified threat of deadly force.

    That said, there are many situations, like this one and numerous others documented, where mere presentation of the firearm is enough to stop the threat. Still, I’m reading two separate presentations of the firearm in this story, which could suggest indecisiveness as much as prudence. If you weren’t there, or even if you were, it could be impossible to state conclusively either way. It seemed to work out in the end, in that he stopped the threat without having to fire, but I’m coming down on the side of that being a lucky outcome.

    I’m falling back on the rule of not pointing a gun at anything you don’t intend destroy, as opposed to might destroy if they do *one* more thing. Glad it worked out for the writer that night. This article is insightful, but perhaps in a somewhat different manner than planned. Good job.

  29. All you have to do is revert back to the Will Clark case, an ATF agent off duty who became embroiled in a domestic and was later charged with murder. How do you think this scenario would have turned out in the venue of the Virgin Islands? I would say their Kangaroo court would hop all over you.

  30. +1 Rabbi. Entering neighbors house and shooting the big guy. Self defense out the window. Where I live ( southern Cook County Illinois) this would buy me a jail cell. Sorry I upset you heroes.

  31. Well I have just recently applied for my LTC and I can tell you that when (if) I get it, I am not going to be a “sheepdog” for anybody. I know some people here might call me a coward, but if someone came knocking on my door with the “someone’s gonna kill someone else, do something” story, the “something” I would do is call 911 and wait for the police to arrive.

    First of all, the laws are very strict in my state (Welcome to Taxachusetts, where your tax dollars go further!). I have a legal duty to retreat from any situation wherever possible. As mb said below, I think I would have a hard time justifying entering someone’s house under those circumstances.

    And far from criticizing the law, I actually agree with it. Don’t give me that silly “sheepdog” thing. My only responsibility is to protect myself and my family. Don’t heap the troubles of the world on my shoulders, I simply won’t accept that.

  32. Having a gun does not make you superman or give you a mission that you didn’t have before. “Sheepdogs”- and I’m getting tired of that metaphor- are not created by sticking a gun in your boxers.

    Additionally, waiting until you are sure you ‘have’ to shoot will probably get you killed eventually; the only way to know if shooting was your only option is to exhaust all others. How often will you have the time and opportunity to do that while the bad guy waits patiently?

    I’m not saying you should be quicker on the trigger, but I think the key question is… are you reasonably in fear for your life or the life of another? Though of course it’s ultimately your choice when you use force to defend yourself.

  33. Dear Rich Grise,

    I hope that you will forgive me responding to your comment in the form of a new comment on the original TTAG article; your comment was made at a level to which no further replies are allowed, so this is my only option for answering you.

    Let me first offer my sincere consolation that someone pissed in your Fruit Loops this morning. In giving you the benefit of the doubt, I have to believe that this — or something like it — is the reason you chose to offer personal offense to someone who likely agrees more with your political views than at least 95% of Americans in general. You do not know me, Sir, and yet you did the Internet equivalent of gratuitously slapping me in the face. Saying “nothing personal” and then saying something that can be nothing but personally offensive is utterly hypocritical. Nothing personal, Rich, but you are a supercilious and self-aggrandizing idiot. See? Doesn’t really work.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not whining about you hurting my precious feelings, I am merely complaining that you insulted me in a place and fashion that makes it impossible for me to punch you in the nose, as you so richly deserve. The decline in common courtesy is much more detrimental to the Liberty you profess to love than any position, policy, thought, or concept I espoused in my comments.

    On your Tripod site, you list “The Three Rules of Humanics”, of which this is the third:

    “3. Don’t use force to try to prevent anyone from doing what they want to do, unless they’re trying to break Rule 2.”

    Rule 3 necessarily assumes that someone (let’s call him Adam) will use force to stop someone else (let’s call him Bill) from breaking Rule 2. Are you suggesting that Adam should only use such force if he is authorized and empowered by some governmental body to do so? What if Adam is trying to prevent Bill from breaking Rule 2 against yet another person (whom we’ll call Chester) because Chester is unable to stop Bill himself? Is Adam any less justified in defending Chester’s rights than he is in defending his own?

    What about Dennis? Adam doesn’t need to prevent Bill from breaking Rule 2 against Dennis, because Dennis is perfectly able to stop Bill on his own. Because someone like Dennis doesn’t need Adam’s help, does that mean nobody needs Adam’s help? Does it mean that Adam should turn a blind eye and let someone like Chester fend for himself? Do your “Three Rules of Humanics” (and BTW, since “humanics” is not an English word, I would appreciate a definition of what you propose it means) simply boil down to Survival of the Fittest? Are you proposing a cheap rehashing of anarchy, with some hifalutin references to Liberty to disguise the fact that it’s really just “every man for himself”? Or is your “Almost Absolute Liberty” so utopian in nature that it assumes no predators like Bill exist?

    Perhaps you object to the term “protector”; I have to assume that you object to it since you felt it necessary to wrap it in quotation marks. Fine, let’s use the word “gardener” instead. (a rose by any other name….) Do you have a problem with Adam gardening on Chester’s behalf, when Chester is unable to take care of his own gardening? Are you in favor of the strong preying on the weak? Or should Chester’s gardening be farmed out to a government agency?

    What did I say that implied that I was appointing myself to be Rich Grise’s personal gardener? What was it I said that suggested Rich Grise is unable to take care of his own gardening? I get it. You’re a rugged individualist. The very idea of needing someone to do your gardening is anathema to you. I’m right there with you, all the way.

    So let’s put this whole thing into a nicely organized and concise list:

    (1) Predators like Bill exist.

    (2) People like Chester exist, who are unable to handle their own gardening.

    (3) The thought of giving any government a monopoly on gardening authority and ability is repugnant in the extreme, and contrary to personal Liberty.

    (4) Without an able and prepared gardener like Adam, Chester cannot enjoy true Liberty.

    (5) Therefor, true Liberty cannot be exercised by everyone in the absence of citizen gardeners like Adam, who are willing to accept the responsibility of gardening for those who cannot or will not for themselves.

    Finally, let me propose a fictional scenario, ripped from fairly recent and instantly recognizable headlines: my daughters are at the theater, watching the latest blockbuster. In walks Bill, armed to the teeth and meaning to kill as many people as possible. Do I hope a citizen gardener like Adam is also in attendance at that movie? Absolutely! Do I resent the fact that Adam so arrogantly “appointed himself” my daughters’ gardener? Not in the slightest! Instead, I would be first in line to pat Adam on the back and offer my deepest thanks and unending gratitude.

    In choosing to be prepared and protect others, I do not seek fame or glory. I don’t want congratulations or applause. I am only fulfilling what I see as my responsibility and duty as an able citizen in a free society, and furthering the cause of Liberty as I do.

    • ““3. Don’t use force to try to prevent anyone from doing what they want to do, unless they’re trying to break Rule 2.”;

      Rule 3 necessarily assumes that someone (let’s call him Adam) will use force to stop someone else”

      It “assumes” nothing of the sort. Assume what you will, but rule 3 is, don’t use force to stop anybody from doing what they want do do, unless what they’re wanting to do is use force on you.

      And I’m sorry that you took something personally that really wasn’t personal – I was using you as an example of an attitude that seems to run rampant. You were merely the example at hand.

      I’m sorry I hurt your feelings – that wasn’t my intent, my intent was to make a point.

  34. I’ve read the comments in support. And I’ve read the comments who disagree with my actions.

    While I understand the danger I put myself and as an extension of myself, my family in, this is something I couldn’t have just let go.

    The overwhelming majority of responses take more consideration for personal safety than that of someone nearly defenseless. This saddens me. The apathy which people feel toward their fellow man is shocking.

    If you have the ability to help, and choose not to act in a situation such as this, your conscience wouldn’t eat at you? Knowing that if you had the intestinal fortitude to act, you would have saved a life and didnt. Knowing that your decision to sit and call 911 ended with a mother being killed. None of that would cause you discomfort?

    Just because you don’t have a badge, you have no responsibility to help someone when you can? Just the thought of this attitude makes mevery worried for future generations. If we are pushing this ‘me first’ mentality, then america as we know it is headed in a very dark direction.

    • I agree 100%. I wonder, would those people who said they would not assist because it was “not their problem” feel the same way if it was their loved one in danger and someone else chose not to risk themselves? My rule in life is simple, treat others as I would like to be treated. If someone dear to me was in danger, would I want someone to help if they could? Absolutely! To me, this means that I am bound to do the same for others, regardless of risk to myself.

    • James, you have managed to completely mischaracterize my comments in objection to your decisions and actions, and, though I do not represent anyone else here, I do not believe that the vast majority of other commenters based their objections in apathy for the victim.

      I am going to assume that you are proficient in the use of your firearm, as well as in your state and locality’s deadly force laws. But that is as generous as I can be about your level of training and/or competence to deal with the situation you have described. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you made a number of critically horrible strategic and tactical decisions; in fact, I would be hard pressed to name something you did right. The fact that Mandy, Darren, you, the neighbor at your door, and your wife are still alive is nothing short of a miracle — or, if you don’t believe in God, you can put it down to sheer dumb luck.

      For the sake of argument, let’s change just one element of the situation: let’s say that Darren managed to incapacitate or kill you. It’s easy enough to imagine, what with all of the opportunities you kept handing this athletic, 300-pound guy. So you’re out of the fight. What does Darren do next? He most likely finishes the job he’s already started on Mandy. What now? There’s a good chance he’s going to your house next, looking for some payback for you getting involved in his “private business”. So there’s your wife and the neighbor woman, dead as well. This isn’t even the worst-case scenario, because at least Darren is still breathing air; you didn’t quite manage to kill EVERYONE with your stupidity.

      The worst mistake you made that evening was to get your priorities all out of whack. First and foremost, you are a husband and perhaps a father; your first priority and duty has to be the wellbeing of your own family. And I’m not just talking about protecting them from violence that evening. How is it in your family’s best interests to lose their husband and father?

      I don’t mean to be callous, but Mandy chose to procreate with Darren. What is more, there is no way that this was the first incident of abuse — so Mandy chose to stick around in spite of being abused. Mandy was in that situation that evening as a result of poor choices. I am not exonerating Darren in saying this: he is completely at fault for what he did. Mandy’s poor choices do not in any way make her deserving of abuse. The point I am trying to make is that, if you had been killed, the only truly innocent parties — the only ones who never had a choice in the matter — whose lives would be forever changed for the worse are your family members. None of this causes you discomfort?

  35. Just an observation, but I think that the different responses come from different parts of the country. For instance, when I lived with my parents, if my neighbor (we only had one) came to me asking for help at any time, no matter what it was, I wouldn’t hesitate to run across the field to help him. And that includes risking my life. Where I live now, I would have a little more reservation as to my actions. In all honesty though, I would probably do the same as OP and try to help.

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