“Authorities say a woman was killed after she was hit by a stray bullet fired into her bedroom by a man who was aiming at his car, which had just been stolen,” oregonlive.com reports. “Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies received multiple calls between 11:10 and 11:25 p.m. Thursday from people who said they heard at least 10 gunshots in Bonney Lake. Shortly afterward, a woman called 911 to report her son’s Jeep was stolen. She said he fired shots from a handgun before chasing after the car.”

An innocent woman is dead, hit in the head with a bullet. The entrance hole in the window seems to be in line with the direction the shooter admits to shooting. Firing his weapon at a car thief who didn’t pose a threat of death or grievous bodily harm — at least to him.

A shooter is responsible for every bullet they fire. Some say every bullet has an attorney attached to it. In any case, it’s important to know your target and what’s beyond it. When you shoot, you’re unleashing deadly force. Do not unleash it when it’s not absolutely necessary in a highly populated area.

You don’t want to be “that guy,” explaining your actions to that woman’s friends and family.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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34 Responses to Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Unnamed Car Theft Victim

  1. Charge the car thief with manslaughter. Say what you will about the shooter’s actions/motivations/legality, the car thief started the chain of events by taking another’s property by force. Cars have title and are therefor considered an extension of the home in many places.

      • Well, murder requires intent. The car thief did not originally intend for someone to die, so I could see manslaughter in this case.

        • He deliberately committed felony auto theft. The theft was the proximate cause of the gunfire, which resulted in the death. In many states, that makes the thief guilty of murder. There was “intent” to commit the felony.

    • Is it not a part of criminal law that accomplices are held liable in a death that happens during the commission of a crime?

      (I’m particularly interested how that would play out in Texas, with its “After dark’ provision.)

    • So… if someone litters, and a guy gets pissed off about it and starts shooting, the litterer is responsible for the stray rounds? Or how about if someone shoplifts a candy bar, runs out of the store, and the store owner runs after them shooting?

      No. The fact that someone committed an illegal act, per se, does not assign them full blame to the resulting events if there is an interceding act of malice or irresponsibility on the part of another. We believe in personal responsibility here, right? Well, the car thief is responsible for that theft. But the person who killed an innocent bystander while shooting irresponsibly and almost certainly without reasonable justification needs to answer to that.

      • *sigh

        Your vehicle is your livelihood. And in many states, it’s an extension of your home. So no, getting pissed off at someone littering is no way in the same category as taking action against someone breaking into your vehicle. Replace vehicle with home, and charge accordingly. If a homeowner accidentally killed an innocent person defending their home against an intruder, than whatever charges apply to that should apply to this case.

        • From what I can gather from the article, the thief wasn’t actively “breaking into” his vehicle at the time the shots were fired. The vehicle was already stolen and the thief was driving off, which means the threat of bodily harm was over, and he was not legally justified in taking those shots. Compare that to someone inside your home who is a viable threat. Someone driving off in your car is no longer a viable threat to your safety (unless they are firing shots in your direction – but I would suggest cover, as the likelihood of hitting the perp in a moving car is slim to none). Sure, they committed a felony and deserve prison, but you can’t shoot them while they are driving off since the threat of bodily harm to you or a loved one is over.

        • From what I gather and understand, here, both the shooter and the thief should be charged, the shooter for manslaughter and the thief for murder.

      • Was it “Felonious Littering?”

        At some point, society is going to have to deal with the fact that when we allow criminals to get away with anything unless a policeman happens to be nearby, we’re going to have a very crime ridden world.

        The solution for this is simple. when a felony is committed, all subsequent acts during the commission of said felony are the responsibility of the felon.

        Example: Man steals car, 15 people all in a sudden insanely poor example of failed marksmanship shoot in a big circle hitting each of them and 12 random bystanders who were on their way to church. The car thief goes to trial for 27 counts of murder and 1 count of car theft. All civil damages to be paid exclusively by the car thief.

        Dont like it? Dont steal cars.

        • Was it “Felonious Littering?”

          “Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie. I put that envelope under that garbage.”

    • Yep, way I see it the criminal should be 100% responsible. How about some crime control and maybe this wouldn’t happen.

  2. We are all fallible humans. That does not absolve us of responsibility for the effects of our actions, though. In this very sad case, it seems clear that there is an absence of mens rea, criminal intent. If that’s correct, then he should not be sent to prison, but he should spend the rest of his life trying to make whatever restitution and amends possible, incomplete though they necessarily are, for his negligent killing of a fellow human being.

  3. “In any case, it’s important to know your target and what’s beyond it. When you shoot, you’re unleashing deadly force. Do not unleash it when it’s not absolutely necessary in a highly populated area.”

    The second sentence in this is gospel. Unfortunately the first sentence isn’t always possible in the heat of the moment.

    Unlike the police we don’t get to say we were shooting at an active threat, hit a bystander and get away with it.

    This guy was an idiot for doing what he did but I quibble with that “and what’s beyond it” thing in some cases the same way I quibble with the “safe direction”, which TTAG has correctly modified to “safest direction” because if a gun goes off there are very few truly safe directions unless you’re on the range shooting at a target.

    • I agree, there is no safe direction in a urban shooting… which is why you shouldn’t shoot at someone who has stolen your property unless you (a) are justified under state law and (b) are SURE you won’t hit anyone.

      • You can’t ever be sure you won’t hit an innocent person in such a circumstance. Not ever.

        That’s why I said this is gospel: “Do not unleash it when it’s not absolutely necessary in a highly populated area.”

        • Indeed.

          The issue here is that all you can do is minimize risk to bystanders. That risk cannot be eliminated. A bullet takes an odd bounce, ricochets through a window and if someone’s in it’s path they could be seriously injured or killed. The risk to innocent life posed by the BG must outweigh all the risks you opening fire presents to those people.

  4. Seriously, I’m growing tired of these Irresponsible Gun Owner posts. It’s more Irresponsible Kneejerk Journalism.

    First Roger Ailes post. Now this.

    We have no idea if the car thief didn’t brandish a weapon, and point it at the victim who fired. Or simply made hand gestures that, combined with the theft, presented bare fear. We have no idea, because the person arrested is doing the smart thing – and not talking. He’s waiting for his day in court with an attorney representing him.

    I really hope TTAG ends these kinds of posts. They do nobody any good. Especially TTAG.

    • We here shouldn’t care whether or not the fool who shot at a vehicle moving away from him felt threatened, or whether he just was pissed that his car was being stolen. Those of us here who aren’t stupid, who are responsible firearm owners, who can control our emotions when in possession of firearms, who aren’t keyboard kommandos too dim to understand ethics and the law, should only be caring about the dead woman, the totally innocent human being with a fatal bullet in her head, the one shot dead with no justification whatsoever by a brand-new self-made felon too stupid to control himself.
      The proper charge in this case should be Second Degree Murder by wanton indifference. He can plead down to Manslaughter 1, if he’s lucky.

  5. Anyone catch the po-leece in Chicago wildly shooting at a stolen car in a narrow residential street? And that 18year old car thief(killed soon after in a foot chase) maybe-just maybe-was trying to kill the cops. I know I’d be pretty p-o’ed if you attempted run me over while stealing my ride. WE don’t know the whole story. My condolences to the dead ladies family…

  6. If he didn’t need to shoot to protect a life, it sounds like involuntary manslaughter on the part of the shooter to me. Of course, I don’t know all the details.

  7. This f**ktard lives near me, I’m here in WA State, couple of towns over. From the local news, looks like no threat was presented to the shooter, he was just upset his Jeep was being stolen. He is currently in jail, initially arrested for assault, but now that the innocent person is deceased due to his actions, there is anticipation of the charges being increased in severity. Good – idiots like this give gun owners a bad name. Hope he serves lots of time for killing an innocent person because he rolled with his emotions.

  8. Deadly force is only authorized to stop an imminent threat to your life or someone else. A vehicle heading away from you is not a threat. An automobile is a material item that can be replaced; a human life, not so much. This is fairly simple stuff, but it amazes me how many people cannot seem to grasp it. If someone reading this has any questions about this subject, get some training, read a book, and ask a lawyer that specializes in this. These mistakes only give the leftist “ammunition” to silence and restrict our rights. This book is a great starting point: Deadly Force – Understanding Your Right to Self Defense by Massad Ayoob.

    • Agreed. Good post. I would add, in addition to a threat to your or someone else’s life, a threat or the act of bodily harm even if it may not lead to death (i.e., rape, fist fight, etc.). Those are also justifiable in many states (check your state’s laws).

      • Also to prevent theft over a certain value, as in TX. Pushing your own state’s laws out in front of you and proclaiming that all states are the same is a fool’s errand, the best plan is to shoot when you have no alternative but to die, and then hope it is found to be a good shoot.

  9. The shooter could have gotten a brand new Jeep from his insurance company.
    Instead, he will be getting a bunch of brand new attorneys.
    Showed a complete lack of common sense.

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