Crime scene Las Vegas (courtesy new3lv.com)

“It is preferable for home invasion victims to call 911 and wait for the police, but that isn’t always an option and residents have the right to defend themselves.” – Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Dan McGrath in
Homeowner shoots and kills intruder after giving verbal warning [via news3lv.com]

[h/t KL]

Recommended For You

66 Responses to Quote of the Day: Police Advice After Las Vegas Home Invasion Defensive Gun Use

  1. Of course that is the more preferrable outcome. For all 3 parties: Homeowner, Crook, and Cop. However the homeowner had a red line and the crook obviously crossed it. I have a similar redline: if you dont belong inside my house, you probably wont make it outside.

  2. Of course that is the more preferrable outcome. For all 3 parties: Homeowner, Crook, and Cop. However the homeowner had a red line and the crook obviously crossed it. I have a similar redline: if you dont belong inside my house, you probably wont make it outside.

  3. That’s the long-winded way of saying, “because when seconds count, the police are only minutes (or more) away.”

    I wonder if he would give the same advice to his own wife or children?

  4. “It is preferable for home invasion victims to call 911 and wait 90 minutes for the police, but that isn’t always an option when the criminals will be at your throat in a few seconds and residents may have the right to defend themselves in certain locations.”

  5. It’s preferable? Who is he to dictate our preferences to us? I prefer to live.

    Also, with a 77% repeat crime rate for felons, we should talk about our preferences in regards to whether we want someone with a rap sheet to go to jail after being convicted of attempting to rob or assault us.

      • He was not telling people to not protect their family, he was saying calling the trashmen to take out the trash is preferable. And I tend to agree.

    • Uh, calling 911 does not mean you need to crawl up into a ball and die. It just means the cops will be coming while you defend yourself as you would have been anyway. And if you lose, it might be a good thing that they are on the way for your sake (if wounded) or your family’s sake.

  6. It might be preferable, but it isn’t realistic.
    Assuming someone or a group is at your door, trying to get in to do who knows what to you and yours… well it is pretty obvious they’ve got a head start on the cops.

    They’d beat them to the scene of the crime ( or the dgu) by a good 5-10 minutes.

  7. Even if the police respond in a timely manner, they are still rolling up on a situation where they can and do misidentify innocents for bad guys. Home owner holding a gun, neighbor opening a door, all become possible targets. There is something to be said for being decisive and eliminating the threat. Then put the gun down, assume a non-threat position, obey the cops and STFU.

    • I’d rather get my family and dog out of the house and drive myself to HQ to report it. No need for cops with a hardon rolling into my driveway putting me and my family in danger.

  8. Interesting that the quote here doesn’t exactly match the quote in the article I just read on following the link. Same general sense, but the one in the article is a little bit more detailed (specifically references “breaking through the door” for one thing). Wonder if there was some ex post facto editing going on at the news source?

    • The discrepancy appears to stem from a restatement of the Lieutenant’s quote being placed in quotes as though the restatement itself were the original quote.

      Actual quote:

      “We prefer people call 911 and wait for the police, but obviously, if they’re in that position and somebody is breaking into their residence they have a right to defend themselves,” McGrath said.

      Restatement of McGrath quote, part of which was subsequently enclosed in quotes on guns.com, giving the erroneous impression that it was the actual Lt.’s quote:

      “Lieutenant Dan McGrath with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said it is preferable for home invasion victims to call 911 and wait for the police, but also noted that isn’t always an option and residents have the right to defend themselves.”

      • I’m all for fine doubles, but they are things I don’t want confiscated by the state during an “investigation”. I can afford / stomach the loss of a plastic fantastic.

        Besides, the “Biden defense” has already failed in court.

  9. The source article tells us that the home invader was pounding and kicking on their apartment door for quite some time and that the homeowner shot six times after warning the home invader … and strongly suggests that the homeowner shot through the door.

    It would be interesting to know what kind of door the homeowner had as well as what firearm/ammunition he used to deliver one or more fatal shots through the door.

    If you have a substantial steel door, this would be an interesting reason to use the venerable .44 Magnum with 240 grain soft points. I would be concerned that anything less would not get through a steel door … and anything more (e.g. rifles) would tend to zip through the door, the attacker, the next door/wall, and on.

      • Bingo.

        Call the police and have them handle the situation. But once the doors or windows are breached, all bets are off.

        • Good advice. There was in incident in Pennsylvania where the next door neighbor’s teenage son came home drunk in the middle of the night, unfortunately went to the wrong house. After pounding on the door and screaming to gain entry, the frightened neighbor (after a verbal warning) fired one shot through the door and killed him. The armed homeowner was criminally charged … don’t know if he went to jail or not.

          I believe you should set up an ambush behind ballistic protective cover, dial 911 and wait for the door to be breached before applying deadly force, if needed. Upon arrival of police, verbally invoke your 5th Amendment right to shut up, and do so.

      • It all depends on a person’s specific definition of a home invasion. What if the door is missing? If they have one toe inside, is that a home invasion? Does their entire body have to be inside? Or do they have to be in the act of actively trying to breach the home? What if they are pushing on your broken door with a plastic milk crate (so they have not yet crossed your door’s threshold) and you are pushing back to keep them out?

        Regardless, if a person is violently beating and kicking a door with the obvious attempt to gain violent, unauthorized entry, that alone constitutes a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm in my opinion. And in this case, the suspect continued to violently beat and kick the door after the apartment renter warned him to stop. If that doesn’t justify use of force, I don’t know what does.

        • It all depends on a person’s specific definition of a home invasion. What if the door is missing? If they have one toe inside, is that a home invasion? Does their entire body have to be inside? Or do they have to be in the act of actively trying to breach the home? What if they are pushing on your broken door with a plastic milk crate (so they have not yet crossed your door’s threshold) and you are pushing back to keep them out?

          These are all completely ridiculous scenarios, none of which resemble anything like someone banging on a door, attempting to gain entrance.

          “Trying to breach” is not “has breached”; therefore, how you handle the situation will be different, even realizing that the former may become the latter.

          Regardless, if a person is violently beating and kicking a door with the obvious attempt to gain violent, unauthorized entry, that alone constitutes a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm in my opinion.

          Fair enough, and agreed. However:

          And in this case, the suspect continued to violently beat and kick the door after the apartment renter warned him to stop. If that doesn’t justify use of force, I don’t know what does.

          1. Ability and opportunity are present, but as long as the door remains standing, jeopardy is not yet present.
          2. Shooting through a door violates Rule Number Four of safe firearms handling. You cannot be sure of your target, much less, what might be beyond your target.

          And as RockOnHellChild said: if they manage to break through the door: all bets are off. Fire at will, to stop the threat.

        • I think Chip’s comments at 14.04 cover it pretty well.
          If some unidentified person is banging on the door but is not yet making much of an impact then I have time to call 911, make sure my gun is chambered, line-up my extra magazines, make uncharitable remarks about the intruder’s mother’s virtue. Sit-back in a covered position and observe. Shooting through the door is not worth the risk – YET.
          In the normal course of events the intruder will either give-up or make some progress breaking through the door. In the latter case, the home defender has some time to watch the process unfold; slowly or rapidly. By this time the cops might be in-route. If one lives near the police station, that may be good enough. Far-away, assume the cops don’t have much of a chance of arriving to intervene before the decision moment comes.
          At the point it becomes clear that the door will be breached in the next blow or two the home defender has to make a decision: open fire a few-seconds too early; or, open fire a few-seconds too late. He’s not going to be lucky enough to get the timing just right.
          What would “just right” look like? The door is completely decimated or broken open. The 1’st of 1+ invaders has crossed the threshold. He’s not waring a mask so the defender has the chance to rule-out a drunken neighbor or a friend playing a prank. He pauses so the defender is not aiming at a moving target. He’s not armed with an “assault gun” with a “massive high-capacity clip”. The defender executes a perfect Mozambique drill on the first perp; the second; changes to a fresh magazine, and completes a hat-trick on the third perp with enough rounds left if the 4th perp is still in the game.
          I don’t think so.
          I’d start my first shot as the door is giving way. At this point the evidence of the breaking door should substantiate my claim of being reasonably convinced of a deadly threat. If the assault continues I continue firing taking care to conserve ammo if the door is broken-in completely. Not being 100% sure I can identify my target in a subsequent line-up is not a deal-breaker under these circumstances.

        • Chip,

          The four elements necessary to justify use of force are:
          ability, opportunity, intent, and jeopardy.

          A person who is fit enough to violently attack a door with hands and kicks has the ability to inflict great bodily harm. A person who has been repeatedly and violently beating and kicking a door — especially after a verbal warning to stop — has expressed intent to violently enter your home which most people would say constitutes a reasonable fear of great bodily harm.

          The two remaining elements in play are opportunity and jeopardy. You could argue that the attacker does not yet have the opportunity to harm you if they have yet to breach the door … and thus you are not yet in jeopardy. You could also argue that the door could give way on the next kick at which point the attacker has immediately gained the opportunity to attack you which does put you in jeopardy.

          I guess the best way to look at this is to liken it to an attacker with a knife. If a person is holding a knife, they have expressed their intent to harm you, and they are standing 21 feet away, pretty much all courts and prosecutors in the United States say that you legally justified at that point to use force to defend yourself and you don’t have to wait until the knife holding attacker is within arm’s reach. The key to this standard is that an attacker who is 21 feet away and suddenly rushes you at full speed is able to reach you in less time than it takes an average person to register the rush and deploy a defensive firearm.

          So the relevant question is this: could the attacker who is beating on a door that has not yet yielded suddenly be through the door and on top of you in less than two seconds? The answer is yes. Doors/frames could yield completely on any given kick. The problem is that the apartment renter has no idea when that might happen. It could happen on the 2nd kick, the 8th kick, or the 16th kick.

          I also agree that shooting at an attacker through a door is sub-optimal — and arguably highly reckless if you have apartments across from your door. Sometimes, we find ourselves in bad situations facing nothing but bad decisions.

      • Not every state even has a specific crime designated as “home invasion” with a legal definition. Those that do, including Michigan, define it as breaking and entering with intent to commit larceny, assault or other felony once inside. That’s a lot to prove and without actual entry having been made, it’s not clear to me that all of the elements of the crime are even provable. It might be something like criminal mischief at that point, maybe attempted home invasion, if that’s a thing, or “home invasion aborning”, to use the word of the day; but probably not yet home invasion.

        That said, it doesn’t mean that but for true and complete home invasion elements having been met, a resident is not legally justified in shooting. Standards for that vary by state, of course, but generally it comes down to a reasonable fear that you were in danger of serious injury or death and that your response was necessary to stop that threat.

        There’s a lot of wiggle room in there. Whether a drug crazed lunatic trying to bash down your front door meets that standard is to be determined. Hence, this case has been handed over to the D.A., who will probably present it to the Grand Jury, who in turn will decide whether to indict.

        • “There’s a lot of wiggle room in there.”

          Yes, indeed. That’s why when ex-Nuke Mouse posted his question the other day, I opined he really needs to talk to *qualified* legal expertise as to determining the legal ‘lay of the land’ where he is, as in, what’s the local prosecutor’s track record in claims of self-defense?

          Where I live, Sheriff Grady ‘Because they ran out of bullets” Judd repeatedly makes the PCSO position crystal clear.

          🙂

    • If I have a door strong enough that I’ll have trouble shooting through it then the bad guy will probably have as much trouble kicking through it… he can stay outside and scuff the finish.

      • The door itself can be bullet proof, but if it’s kicked in, the door frame itself may not be up to the task…

  10. I’d be a little reluctant to shoot through a door and I don’t think I’d empty a whole cylinder through it if I did. I guess if I knew they had a gun and were making threats. But most doors aren’t substantial enough to keep a bullet from flying across the street with lethal velocity if they miss the bad guy. And it could put you on very shaking legal ground. I wasn’t there so I’m not judging, but it’s definitely risky.

  11. Sounds like your typical admin type who spent very little time actually dealing with criminals and more time being an administrative blow hard to climb the ranks.

    Either way the statement is politically correct and he would make a great politician. Like I said, typical admin weenie…

  12. Hope this turns out well for the homeowner. But shooting through a door….yeah, very dicey. As the man said, “Every bullet hits a target.” Any bullet that does not hit the aggressor must be accounted for (as we all know). Shooting through a door increases the risk of collateral damage. That said, the distance between an attacker and the victim might be too close after the door fails. The question is whether a defender can/could employ defensive force in time. Nothing certain about that. Even if the homeowner is calling 911 from a prepared defensive position, once breached the distance may be too short to allow defensive measures. Would take some bold nerve to hold fire until the aggressor is clearly visible. Something to add to all the other considerations of “what would I do?”

    • Thank you for pointing this out. I have lived in apartments that are quite small … where it is no more than 15 feet from the entry door to the best defensive position. A motivated attacker can cover that distance in about one second — hardly enough time for a defender to aim and pull the trigger much less get off a shot to a vital location on the attacker.

      And remember, even if the defender put a .45 ACP, 230 grain hollowpoint bullet through the attacker’s heart, that attacker will still be physiologically capable of delivering a fatal attack (whether with fists, a club, knife, or firearm) for at least 10 seconds before going unconscious from blood loss. In other words the defender is in an extremely dire situation if the home invader actually breaches the door, even if the defender manages to get one perfect shot into the home invader’s chest. And note that the defender will probably not have enough time to get off any more than one shot before the home invader is physically on top of him/her.

      I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of having one second to get off a perfect shot on a rapidly advancing home invader, and then having to contend with said home invader on top of me in hand-to-hand combat for at least another 9 seconds … during which time the home invader could beat, stab, or shoot me multiple times. With all that in mind, I can see a compelling reason to shoot a person through your door when that person has been violently beating and kicking your door — especially after you warn them to stop.

      • I’ve lived in the same places in years gone by. Only time I thought a mossberg “cruiser” type shotgun made a lot of sense. Short at both ends and with a 12 ga. payload for that one shot.

        No such thing as a magic, perfect death ray. But at apt. ranges the 12 ga. comes close.

  13. Maybe bailing-out into the back yard would be a good idea in these situations. Putting distance between you and the attacker. If the attacker follows you, perhaps you have a clear picture and then time to engage a certain target.

    • That’s just not an option for those of us with children in the house. How fast can you mobilize 4 children under the age of 5? Home carry and respond with swift violence of action. The ideal result would be bad guy bleeding out on the porch with heels cooling on the threshold. Or at least crumpled up right inside the front door.

      • Not having young children does allow for more options. Conversations with some gun owners at the office indicates they do not have much of a plan for how to deal with a break-in. Mostly they intend to grab a flashlight and go wandering around the house looking for damage and/or intruders. Not much thought as to the dangers of that, much less the risk that children will come running out of their rooms to find out what is going on. Risky environment.

        • Yep. Not many good options. Leave wife in room on cell and 20ga. Grab AR with WML, get to base of stairs. Kids are upstairs. Dog should sound off, but he’s a daffy lab who has been known to bodycheck the door when really bothered though. Wish we still had our old mutt, she was awesome. Alarm bark and investigate.

  14. Maybe bailing-out into the backyard would be a good idea in the circumstance. Put some distance between you and the attacker. If followed outside it might make for certain identification of the target, and a better defense.

    • This assumes the back yard is safe and secure. If a thug is beating in the front door, don’t bet your life on running out the back. Stay put and use that fatal funnel to full effect.

  15. I prefer to be alive. The local keystone cops are literally around the corner from me but I’d prefer they not come on my property. Not a real good record of catching bad guys…Happy New Year anyway!

  16. My daughter lives in a large northeastern city that still allows handguns, and has excellent police response time. She keeps a .45 gov’t model (gift from Dad) loaded in the bedroom. In case of home invasion, her plan is to retreat to the bedroom while dialing 911 and screaming I’m armed, get out.

    If the bad guy(s) don’t leave and continue up the stairs she will fire one round down into the dirt of a large potted plant ceramic pot then take a covered position in the bedroom and wait. The millisecond the door opens the remainder of the magazine will be emptied into the invader. If they’re crazy enough to continue the invasion after a warning shot, they’re toast.

    • If they’re crazy enough to continue the invasion after a warning shot

      Remember, there are no “warning shots”. Your daughter might MISS her first shot before retreating to her bedroom, but she did not fire a warning shot.

  17. I don’t really have a problem with the Lieutenant’s comments. It would be preferable to call 911 and have the police deal with it. There are more of them than me, they’re more mobile if the situation turns fluid, and they’re better equipped legally to deal with the aftermath. They’re also backed up by additional forces, who could more easily summon medical help than I could alone if injured.

    Thereafter, he acknowledges that preferences aren’t always available options, so sometimes you have to address the immediate danger yourself. Strongly implied in his comment was the fact that you are your own first responder, so make preparations for Plan B. That same basic advice would apply to home first aid training and kits and medical emergencies, as well as smoke detectors, home fire extinguishers and fire emergencies.

    Call 911 as soon as you can, but be ready and able to deal with the problem until the cavalry arrives.

  18. I sure see a ton of people here jumping on the first phrase without bothering to read the rest of the sentence.

    I hope you take more care identifying your target in a DGU.

    • Hey SteveInCO, happy new year!

      I sure see a ton of people here jumping on the first phrase without bothering to read the rest of the sentence.

      Personally, I would prefer more LEO take the position of, say, Milwaukee and Detroit, where LEO are speaking out in favor of armed citizen self-defense. The more that citizens demonstrate their willingness and ability to defend themselves, the less likely random citizens are to being marked as potential targets for would-be criminals.

      If more LEO would say that citizens have a right to armed self-defense, and also encourage more citizens to avail themselves of that right, the better off everyone will be (except for criminals).

      I hope you take more care identifying your target in a DGU.

      This seems to be a bit of a non-sequitur. The incident in question, as pointed out already, was not a home invasion. It was a potential – perhaps even likely – home invasion, but was aborted before becoming one, by the homeowner shooting the would-be home invader through the closed door.

      • The fact of the matter is, he DID say he had no trouble with people doing a DGU when there was no chance to wait for the cops. So his statement is NOT anti 2A.

        In other words, if the threat is developing, not imminent, summon the cops, and prepare for the possibility (likelihood) that it will become imminent before they get there. Take care of it yourself the instant it becomes imminent.

        Personally, I’d rather let the cops take care of it…IF and ONLY IF that is a viable option. (Why wouldn’t I want more firepower brought onto the problem?) And that’s all the man said.

        My alleged “non-sequitur” is referring to the way people have gone off half-cocked at this statement, reading the first half and utterly ignoring the second because they want to bash hoplophobes, even ones who aren’t hoplophobes in fact.

  19. “We prefer people call 911 and wait for the police, because we have to protect our phoney-baloney jobs here, gentlemen!”

    — Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Dan McGrath

    I guess that only people with a union card should be allowed to shoot bad guys.

    • Recall that he did phrase it in such a way that allowed for armed self defense if you don’t have time to wait–which in a true home invasion will pretty much always be the case; in abortive or incipient ones, it might not be, depending on how much trouble the dirtbag has gaining entry.

      You’re another one of those who jumped on the first part and ignored the second.

      • Afraid you are trying to mitigate and out-and-out idiotic statement; all of it. What did the cops say? Simplified, “If your home is in the process of being invaded, we prefer you call 911 rather than taking matters in your own hands. However, if the invasion that is happening at the moment you would normally call 911, you may not have time to call 911 and stop the invasion. In the latter case it is understandable if yout ake matters into your own hands at that point, and call 911 later.”

        The second part of the police statement does not rescue the first part from being, shall we say, unhelpful?

        • So I guess that the rule that what follows the word “but” (or “however” which means the same thing) is the only part of the sentence that matters (e.g., “I support the second amendment but…”), is only operative when people want to rationalize flying off the handle at the first part of the sentence, rather than the second.

          Gotcha.

        • The cop statement is just idiotic, both elements. “If you are about to be killed, don’t do anything, just call us. But if you are about to be killed and can’t stand to wait for police to arrive and save you, well, go ahead and do whatcha gotta do.” Idiotic.

    • The state of Indiana solved that issue. Now if the other 49 states will allow you to kill a policeman who invades the wrong house we will be a better society.

      • Remember, piggies across the nation shrieked hysterically about the Indiana law. Cops hate competition, they want a monopoly on risk-free home invasions.

  20. “It is preferable for home invasion victims to call 911 and wait for the police”

    “Wait for the police” to do WHAT???

    Draw a chalk outline around the home owner?

    * Police have no legal duty to protect individuals.
    * Police have no legal liability when they fail to protect individuals.
    * Police have virtually no physical ability to protect individuals.

    Police don’t protect individuals. They draw chalk outlines around people unable or unwilling to protect THEMSELVES.

    When you’re in IMMEDIATE danger of life and limb, you’re either going to protect YOURSELF or you’re just not going to get protected AT ALL. Anybody who tells you different is a LIAR.

  21. Someone pounding on your door and screaming may not be a home invader.
    We had a case here of an injured auto accident victim making it to the nearest home and pounding on the door
    He had head injury and was rendered deaf
    Interestingly, the homeowner called 911 and the responding police shot the victim when he ran toward the police car seeking help

  22. The homeowner will probably have to fend off a civil suit filed by the perps family. That is the latest gambit by the leftist anarchists and their lawyers, saddle a homeowner who kills some #blacklivesonly home invader with a frivolous lawsuit to punish them.

    If youre interested how this works google “Leandus Pickens” and see what is happening to a homeowner in SC who shot a guy busting in his window. SC is a Castle Law state btw.

    • in some places, wrongful death suits are blocked when a criminal conviction is the result for the bad guy, and often if the bad guy doesn’t live, but the DA declines to pursue charges against the victor. should be the standard everywhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *