When it comes to a home invasion, some gun gurus say you shouldn’t speak and carry a big caliber stick. They reckon that yelling out to a prospective perp gives away your position — removing the “surprise” element of the “speed, surprise and violence of action” recipe for armed self-defense. As Annie Lenox would say, who am I to disagree?

But let’s consider the alternative, using a recent video of a police search gone wrong . . .

Bodycam video was released Thursday after an officer shot a man Wednesday in the Russell neighborhood. A neighbor said she called police because a man appeared to be doing drugs outside a home near Magazine and 26th streets. When the officers arrived, the neighbor told them that the man had gone into a vacant house. Three Officers went into the house and announced their presence multiple times while searching the house.

Multiple times? I counted three announcements over three minutes. That was hardly enough warning, given that the officers were searching a multi-story house for someone suspected of doing drugs. Someone you’d expect to have trouble processing information, especially if they’re scared or angry.

Equally, did you hear how timidly the cop called into the house before his team entered? The other two shout-outs were equally soft-spoken. If you’re going to call out during a home invasion, CALL OUT! Not only does a loudly spoken command/alert ensure that the bad guy(s) can hear you, your tone of voice signals interlopers that you mean business.

Hang on. You’re not a cop responding to 911 call. How do you know it IS a bad guy in your house?

As a father of four daughters, I strongly suggest that anyone with children above teenage age must consider the possibility that an intruder is a sneaky suitor. Or their own child returning from a secret assignation. There have also been numerous cases of drunk neighbors breaking into the wrong house.

In short, sh*t happens. A shouted warning could save an innocent person’s life — and prevent a lifetime of regret and remorse. And even if the intruder IS a bad guy, wouldn’t you want them to reconsider their plans and leave, rather than face an armed confrontation you and your family could lose?

I know: intruders might leave after a shouted warning or they might not. But unless you alert them to your presence, the first option isn’t even on the table. If you’ve got your friendlies safely behind you, if you’re in a good defensive position, why not to issue a verbal warning? Again, there are two schools of thought. It’s your call.

So what should you call out? I’m down with a plain and simple LEAVE NOW! Some say you should yell I’VE GOT A GUN! Others think that’s inadvisable; preparing the bad guys ready for a fight to the death (assuming they aren’t already).

But saying “If there’s anyone here . . .” and “If you’re in here . . .” (as the Louisville officers did) is a dumb *ss move. If you don’t know if someone’s in your home you sure as hell don’t know where they are in your home. You might as well call out “ready or not, here I come!” Actually, that would be better . . .

Notice that none of the cops yelled POLICE! They sure should have. And I recommend you do, too. THE POLICE ARE COMING NOW! tells the bad guys that they’re facing more than a scared homeowner or two. That they will soon be outnumbered and outgunned. (John Wick need not apply.)

I could point out the Kentucky cops’ Keystone Cops room clearance techniques. Suffice it to say, the ballistic incident in this video shows that “surprise” cuts both ways. If you’re surprised during a suspected home invasion you might do something stupid, too.

54 Responses to Use Your Words in a Home Invasion: Self-Defense Tip

  1. “As a father of four daughters, I strongly suggest that anyone with children above teenage age must consider the possibility that an intruder is a sneaky suitor.”

    Meh, shoot him anyway, then. If he wants to sneak into MY house for a quickie with MY daughter, instead of coming in the front door with MY invitation (and with honorable intentions), he’s not good enough for her anyway… 😉

    • I understand your sentiment and I think you’re being tongue in cheek about it, but if not, that’s a sure fire recipe for you to be spending the rest of your life in prison.

      • There is no good solid “always works” answers. Can bad pretend, convincingly, to be cops? sure.

        You can only make the best guess based on facts as the time and hope you make the right call in the nanosecond ‘shoot, dont shoot’ moment.

  2. If you have no cover (that which bullets can NOT penetrate) what happens if they do not run? In my house only the fireplace is cover. And it is exposed on three sides and far from the bedrooms. Now what do YOU suggest, Robert?
    P. S. It was 5* last night with snow on the ground. Not exactly nightgown and bare feet weather.

    • Get a pet that’s loud and scary, when someone it doesn’t know comes around, and most often the perp will just leave. People are terrified of dogs. I have a friend who’s standard daushound makes enough noise to scare today’s girly men. I’m sure in just a few short years, after even more liberal/hipster/feminization, you could probably even use house cats to guard your home.

      • A harden criminal will be prepared to deal with a dog. Dogs are far more common then trained armed citizens

      • Some ginger ale on my keyboard thanks to the visual of today’s hipster dipshits being scared of a tabby cat. Probably not too far from the truth.

    • Haven’t had to shoot anyone but I’ve said “shit” and worse immediately after a couple different car crashes. I have to imagine I’d say something similar in any high-stress situation.

      I suppose that would include right after an ND, though.

    • That was the CLASSIC EXAMPLE of a NEGLIGENT discharge. An “accidental” discharge is when you drop your gun and it goes off ( defective weapon) or the trigger gets caught on the holster or something similar. In this case the officer yelled “SHOW ME YOUR HANDS!” and PULLED THE F**KING TRIGGER WHILE saying the word hands. There was ZERO time for the victim of her criminal assault to do ANYTHING much less comply with instructions. This is a CLASSIC EXAMPLE of a criminal felony assault by LEO that will be whitewashed and justified because of ‘special privilges’.

      • Unfortunately, I’d have to agree with you. If only they were held to the same standards as the rest of society.

  3. Having snuck in a few bedrooms in my younger daze I’m happy I didn’t get shot. Anyone home invading now gets a yell and either 00 buck/slugs or 9mm boo-lets. No daughter (I know of!) just 2 sons here and granddaughters live far away.

  4. I almost shot my sister a few months back because she got drunk and decided it would be smarter just to barge into my moms house at 3 AM unannounced and use one of the guest bedrooms. My mom called me saying there was someone in the house and I started doing room clearing when I got there. First room I checked there’s goldilocks asleep in the bed. She was never very bright but I’m damn glad I’m calm under pressure.

  5. I live alone.
    When I’m here, my door is locked.
    If somebody’s in my home without my invitation, they BROKE IN.
    In CIVILIZED places, that’s as dangerous to the one breaking in as to those already lawfully there.

    Drunk and broke into the wrong place? Find a 12 step program before you flunk my .45acp program.

    Yeas ago in usenet, a Brit bemoaned the “injustice” that a Scotsman couldn’t get blind drunk in Houston, kick in a stranger’s back door in the middle of the night while ignoring warnings that he’d be shot… without being shot. My response to him:

    1. If that’s how liquor affects you, stop drinking.
    2. If you can’t stop drinking on your own, get help to stop.
    3. If you can’t stop drinking on your own and won’t get help to stop, get SHOT.

    He was outraged. I just laughed and laughed…

    • You might have told the Brit that shooting was just Plan A. Plan B would have been a prison sentence for breaking and entering. Plan C would have been similar except for a detour through a hospital to recuperate after the homeowner pounded him with a baseball bat.

      I’ve been drunk in my life but never to the point where I didn’t know the difference between my own residence and someone else’s.

      • I’m not a big fan of the baseball bat approach.

        I once saw an episode of “Cold Case Files” in which a husband and wife were in their bedroom when they heard noises elsewhere in the house.

        The husband picked up a baseball bat and went to investigate… whereupon the home invader stabbed him in the heart, killing him. He then proceeded to rape the wife and set the house on fire. The wife survived.

        [Naturally] the cops treated the wife as the primary suspect and made her life even more of a living hell than it otherwise would have been.

        After about ten years, the actual murderer/rapist was found, already incarcerated in another state.

        That the close of the episode, the widow stated that she wished that she’d been killed the night her husband was.

        If you’re in my home without permission and don’t IMMEDIATELY leave when it’s obvious that the dwelling is occupied, that tells me that you may not be there ONLY to steal.

        I haven’t used a baseball bat for baseball in decades. I’ve never used one as a weapon. Leaving aside the fact that a baseball bat is deadly force (ask Mulugeta Seraw), I’m not Hercules and don’t go around fighting mythical beasts with a club. I’m going to stick with my M1911.

  6. Sigh. People breaking into your house are going to un-ass said house at the first indication that they’ve lost the element of surprise.

    Only in over the top hollywood movies are the bad guys experienced, trained, armed and in a military style team.

    If you’re not a cartel member you will never experience a crew assualting your home.

    Make noise. Tell them the cops are coming. The cops aren’t going to arrive and help the bad guy in his crimes.

    And yes, even tho internet wisdom says I should be dead, I’ve run a bad guy from my house by chambering a round in a pump 12 ga.

    • “If you’re not a cartel member you will never experience a crew assualting your home.”

      That’s funny, the Vietnamese guy in Houston whose home was invaded by a “crew” in the ’90s wasn’t a cartel member.

      Unfortunately for them, their victim selection process didn’t filter out former Biet Dong Quan. They chose… poorly.

      I’m sure that doctor in Connecticut insisted that Hayes and Kommisarjevsky leave his home. Instead they beat him half to death, robbed him and raped and burned to death his wife and daughters. Perhaps he wasn’t insistent enough?

      As far as “defending” oneself with an unloaded firearm goes, trusting to luck is a poor survival strategy. Ask any Japanese who fought in New Guinea.

      • The Pettit family were unarmed. Had the bad guys seen a gun or been shot at they would have found easier pickings. Which is sorta why they were in the Pettit house in the first place. Easy pickings.

        Who says anything about an empty firearm? A loaded tube mag on a pump gun with an empty chamber is a safe way to manage a house gun when there’s toddlers in the house.

        Having a gun is step one in self defense. Having to never have to fire the gun because you have the gun is a bonus.

        Bad guys run when confronted by competent resistance. They’re bad guys. Not super villians.

        • Even a crew will most likely choose easier pickings when confronted with armed resistance.

        • “Bad guys run when confronted by competent resistance.”

          Can I get that in writing? Whom do I sue if it doesn’t work out that way?

    • Never had a break in. I keep my pump gun loaded with #4 buck, but the chamber empty as I just don’t trust a half cock notch as a safety. If the bad guy doesn’t run when I chamber my first round, that is his bad decision. I will let the cops clear the house while the wife and I wait in the bedroom. My Winchester 97 may well be an antique design, but I have run it in competition, and straight triggered or slamfire I hit my targets when they are 15 yards or less.

    • I have to disagree with you jwm. While what you say is generally true that doesn’t mean it’s always true.

      A guy who lived a block or so away from me back in the day was shot by a “crew” of two guys. They were not there to rob anyone but rather to kill someone. Unfortunately for the guy who got shot the idiots in question couldn’t read the numbers on the houses and picked the house across the street from where they were supposed to be.

      Further, drugs will cause people to do some crazy things. Betting your life that meth heads will flee isn’t a bet I would take.

    • I hate to tell you this, jwm, but you simply haven’t been paying attention.
      People do not “un-ass” a house just because they discover someone is there. Every week, several news stories come out about people who have been shot after deciding “un-ass” is just not in their vocabulary.
      It is amazing how drugs (including alcohol) can impart immediate military training to a person in the wrong house at the wrong time. Well, at least they impart the *impression* of such training on the person in the wrong house.
      That is to say, if you really believe simply shouting out will cause someone to “un-ass” your house, you may well be sadly surprised.

      • Guys. I realize that simply shouting may not cause the bad guy to run. Which is why we back the shout up with a gun and a 911 call.

        But my original statement stands. Yes addresses get mixed and drugs make people stupid. If you are armed and confront the bad guys they’ll flee MOST of the time.

        We remain armed for that outlier. In my case the man that broke into my house ran upon learning the homeowner, me, was armed with a shotgun. I’ve never yet had a situation, outside the military, where the bad guy didn’t run as soon as he realised I was armed.

    • Some years ago, my dad woke woke us up at about 0300. Someone, or a “crew” was trying to invade our house. The sliding door on the first floor was already open an inch and a half to two inches. The “crew” used a crowbar to pry open the door, busting both the key lock and the dead bolt. The four inch bolt my dad had installed, was bent at a 90 degree angle, but had jammed against the door frame, keeping the door from sliding open. Warnings were shouted down that we were all awake, lights were all on, police had been called, and that we were all armed. The effort at the door continued for several more minutes before it got all quiet. Tell us again how yelling warnings will drive away determined home invaders?

  7. when I read this one

    All I could hear was the Gunny teaching me about guard duty “You have to say —stop or I will shoot! three times –then shoot!

    DO this you ‘Blanks!’ say stop or i will shoot! once loudly THEN MOVE! to better cover, the next two warnings at a whisper! then as that PERIOD falls on the end of your sentence FIRE!

  8. If you shoot an uninvited suiter in your home, in the dark of night, you are protecting your family. If your daughter wants to complain about it, maybe she should have asked permission or just gotten a motel room. You are DAD, the owner of the property and the protector of the family and property.
    Sorry… Even in Ca, you would be within your rights.

      • Thats fine if its your life. My life and family is if uninvited BANG you are dead. At 76 I have learned quit well. He is in my home to do me harm, period.

  9. Lhstr, if anyone comes in my house without my authority, bang you are DEAD. Make no sense not to shoot them, “uninvited assholes”. I know better, no excuse, I am not one to screw with. and not a snowflake! At 76 yrs old, I haven’t lived this long by being stupid.

  10. “..Multiple times? I counted three announcements over three minutes. That was hardly enough warning, given that the officers were searching a multi-story house for someone suspected of doing drugs. Someone you’d expect to have trouble processing information, especially if they’re scared or angry.”

    How many abandoned buildings have you cleared? You should teach at the academy!

    Or one could consider that (a) this is a building no one is legally occupying (and therefore no one is entitled to such warning) and (b) giving an opponent extra warning so he can barricade himself and get ready to shoot is not necessarily the best tactical consideration. And given where the dude was he knew plenty well that they were there and police.

    The problem here seemed more to be a matter of the officer noticing the guy behind the mattress (good job) and shooting out of surprise more than anything else (not such a good job!).

    • Unfortunately, we hold our police to standards far beyond what is reasonable.
      If the LEO doesn’t announce himself several times, a prosecutor may well make mincemeat out of him for violating the rights of that poor, underprivileged felon.
      Luckily, I never was a LEO, so if I show up in my house with my 12 gauge pointed at a felon in the act, I don’t need to warn him; the barrel pointed at him is warning enough.
      In self defense, anything short of brutal is not enough.

      • “Unfortunately, we hold our police to standards far beyond what is reasonable.”

        Tell that to Kathryn Johnston…

  11. I think this falls squarely under “play stupid games, win stupid prizes”. The guy in the house obviously heard the police, because he was hiding from them. I don’t understand why every piece of shit thinks that an order from a police officer is a multiple choice question. I am a huge believer in police being professional at their job and not abusing the power of said job, but at the same time, I can’t imagine what they have to put up with in the modern iteration of their job. Especially with groups like BLM saying all police are out to kill minorities all the time, wouldn’t a rational, intelligent person want to do everything possible to keep from being shot? If the cops overstep to their bounds, sue them. Better to be alive and in court, then dead because you thought you would be cute and try to fight them. And I am obviously not talking about every day, law abiding citizens, before someone screams that from their safe space, I am talking about human detritus career criminals and wannabes.

  12. I think saying things that make you seem like a bloodthirsty psycho to a home invader seems like a good idea.

    “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!”. “YOU DONE F#$%ED UP NOW!”.

  13. Holy Gaston Glock batman.

    “Show me your han(BANG!!!)

    This is the problem with women and wimps becoming police. They fear any kind of personal contact and are much more trigger happy. I’ve got two friends who are cops with significant unarmed fighting experience. One was a prison guard, the other is HUGE and is a jujitsu instructor.

    Both have said to me that women and men with no actual fighting experience are much much more likely to discharge their weapons.

    I don’t know if it was a ND or not, but it appears that she fired intentionally.

    Don

  14. Please, may we maintain some measure of decorum on these august pages? It lowers the tone and tenor of the otherwise excellent advice on TTAG when terms like “sh*t happens” are employed. May I suggest that henceforth we apply “excrement transpires” instead?

  15. I’m not sure why this video accompanies this article. This was nothing close to what anyone of us would encounter in a home invasion.
    This was a search and aprehend mission by a team of officers. Claiming the commands were not loud enough seems to be false because the man was hiding. He knew where the cops were and that they were coming for him. He hid inside the house to evade capture.
    What went wrong here was poor trigger control and panic. Save this video for that article.

      • Now thats right. We are talking of a breakin while you are at home. Its not your brother, son or anything like that! We are talking about invasion of our castle. Leo’s have to belch out who they are, if not Bang. I’m not breaking any laws. So breaking in my home, my glock or whatever goes bang. I have been in training for 50 years plus, and still train in defensive classes monthly. Someone breaks in, it goes bang, then 911. I’m sorry officer, I thought they were going to kill me and had to shoot. I’m 76 years old and can’t run or fight anymore, thats why I have a ccw and stay in my home most of the time. I would like to call my lawyer now and will give you a statement when he is with me……..

  16. To my way of thinking, the BG has two big advantages: stealth/element of surprise and being the aggressor. Yelling at him goes a long way toward eliminating the first. Yelling that you are armed goes part way toward eliminating his confidence in the second.

  17. If you have family members that were not home when you locked up, and someone unexpectedly enters that night, do not call out a real name. You don’t want to give the guy a chance to to claim an identity. If he says “yeah, it’s me” then you know you have a scoundrel in your home.

  18. I see police investigating a complaint of drug use and trespassing
    I see them shooting someone with no warning for no reason
    His crime was trespassing and not answering the police commands
    Neither of which is justification for a shoot

    • Maybe so. OTOH, if truth and justice were to prevail, would not hiding from police officers you know are searching for you, be cause for them to shoot you? Because I think so.

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