Sleepwalker Shot in Self-Defense After Entering an Unlocked Home

Not all justified homicides are created equal. In this tragic case, a perfect storm of bad luck resulted in the death of 52-year-old Gregory Miller in Gainesville, Florida. Miller, who had suffered a serious head injury during an accident over 30 years ago, had subsequently experienced seizures and other neurological problems for many years.

“He would have seizures at night where he would get up after deep coma-like sleep and walk around and go through the motions of a daily routine,” said Miller’s sister, Angela Christian. “He would not be awake. His eyes would be closed or partially opened on and off. I witnessed this many times.”

Christian believes that Miller was suffering one of these episodes early Sunday morning. He walked across a lawn from his apartment to another residence occupied by 71-year-old John Edmund Barbour. According to a neighbor who asked to remain anonymous, Barbour is a well-liked man who uses a walker to get around and relies on caregivers.

Miller opened Barbour’s front door and walked in. Police spokesman Ben Tobias says Miller was then shot by the home owner.

Police found Miller lying inside the living room, Tobias said. There were no signs of forced entry, he said. The man’s door was unlocked.

After Miller entered the condo, Tobias said Barbour had enough time to retrieve his gun, load it and warn Miller several times to leave the home before he eventually shot him.

Miller died as a result.

Prior to this event, Miller had been living with his sister for some time. In July, after they made a mutual decision that he could try living on his own again, he moved into his own apartment.

“He was excited to be like everyone else,” said Christian. Sadly, he apparently wasn’t ready to be like everyone else. Christian acknowledged that, saying of the shooting:

“It’s not the man’s fault because he didn’t know [about Miller’s medical problems] and he was probably scared.”

Christian also said, “I just don’t know why the first thought is to shoot. I wish he would have called the police. [Miller] would’ve probably been still standing there when they got there.”

Christian also believes that if Barbour’s door had been locked, Miller would still be alive. These feelings are understandable following her tragic loss.

There’s plenty of “woulda-coulda-shoulda” to go around in this case, but legally, it appears to be well within justified self-defense territory. Barbour hasn’t been arrested and is not expected to face any charges.

comments

  1. avatar Bearpaw says:

    “I just don’t know why the first thought is to shoot.”

    Well, because gun life.

    1. avatar Ranger Rick says:

      Nope. Because a stranger entered someone’s dwelling at night, unannounced and unknown to the resident, that’s why

      1. avatar Danny Curtis says:

        What Ranger Rick said.

      2. avatar Anonymous says:

        Nope. Because a stranger entered someone’s dwelling at night, unannounced and unknown to the resident, that’s why

        ^
        | Here it is! LOL

      3. avatar Donkey Lips says:

        Sleepwalk into a sleeping bear’s den. See what happens next.

    2. avatar Alan Wayne Rose says:

      The first thought was to repeatedly yell at the mysterious intruder to leave, while acquiring and loading his gun. Seems reasonable.

      1. avatar little horn says:

        exactly

      2. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Sounds borderline suicidal to me, but you go ahead.

        1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

          Alan was correcting the sister about what Barbour’s first thoughts obviously were, not stating what he would have done.

      3. avatar neiowa says:

        WTF was his gun not already loaded.

    3. avatar anonymoose says:

      She would rather the police show up, issue some “verbal commands” and then blow her brother away.

      1. avatar Owen says:

        Exactly!

        The sleepwalker guy should have had extra locks on his door to prevent unconscious door opening. Kind of like child proofing your house.

    4. avatar BlazinTheAmazin says:

      During my last CCW class, it was essentially implied that you aren’t automatically justified in shooting someone who has mistakenly entered your residence. I verbally disagreed in class but the instructor was dead set that trespassing (intentional or not) did not AUTOMATICALLY elevate the situation to deadly force being justified.

      This is in AZ btw, not some pansy ass leftist state.

      1. avatar GS650G says:

        Ask the instructor if he welcomes strangers in his house at 2 am.

        1. avatar Ranger Rick says:

          With milk and cookies.

      2. avatar raptor jesus says:

        This is the case in NY. We have a duty to retreat/de-escalate and are only authorized to use deadly force if:

        1 – faced with imminent threat of grievous bodily harm
        2 – to prevent such harm to another (such as during the course of armed robbery, rape, kidnapping)

      3. avatar RT says:

        That isn’t how it is in TN. You’re justified as long as the person in your house isn’t supposed to be there. In other words, not a relative, social worker, etc. They don’t even have to know that you’re home.

  2. avatar Ragnarredbeard says:

    Why is this guy leaving his door unlocked?

    1. avatar Shane Hazlett says:

      That’s irrelevant.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        It’s perfectly relevant to the tragedy. He’s scared enough to shoot someone but not to lock his door?

        This could have all been avoided.

        1. avatar Timothy says:

          Are you saying that if a person forgets to lock the front door that they forfeit the right to self defense?!?! ARE YOU REALLY THAT STUPID?!?!?

          May you never in your life forget to lock your car or your house. And if you do forget, may you have the means to defend yourself if someone breaks in. And if you do have to defend yourself after discovering that you are not in fact perfect… may you never have to deal with anyone as ignorant as you.

        2. avatar former water walker says:

          I concur officer Hannibal. Lock your freakin’ door. Almost sounds like he was lying in wait(yeah that’s it). Oh and while you’re at it don’t leave your 5 year old in an unlocked running car…duh.

        3. avatar bobinmi says:

          I don’t think he said that at all. I do find it fascinating that so many people of the gun (of which I consider myself to be a member) don’t take precautions to lock their doors and reinforce entry points. It should be common sense, but the same people tend to fall into the FWG category and think of the gun as their only means of defense.

        4. avatar Anonymous says:

          It’s perfectly relevant to the tragedy. He’s scared enough to shoot someone but not to lock his door?

          This could have all been avoided.

          LOL!!!!!!

          Doesn’t matter that it “could have been avoided.” Everything that ever happened ever – could have been avoided.

          We don’t do gun control, or mandatory door locks to avoid the universe’s possibilities.

        5. avatar neiowa says:

          I live in among the lowest crime rural areas you’ll find in the US. If you:

          Leave the doors of your residence unlocked when not home or at night – here’s your sign.
          If you operate your motor vehicle and don’t have the doors locked – here’s your sign
          If you fail to lock the doors of your motor vehicle at night or when parked off of your property – here’s your sign.
          If you don’t have (at least one) loaded fire immediately accessible in your residence – here’s your sign

          Your sign says – Moron

        6. avatar Timothy says:

          There’s a lot of holier than thou on this site. I’ve forgotten to lock my door. I’ve locked my keys in the house before too. People make mistakes and they forget things. I’m willing to bet that every person on this thread has forgotten to lock their doors at least once in their life. Even the guy claiming that oversight turns someone into a moron.

          I only lock my door when it’s bedtime. When I put my daughters to bed, I walk past the front door and lock it then. You can call me a moron if you’d like, but I wouldn’t recommend breaking into my house before bedtime. Cause no matter how many people on here will judge me for not having my door locked 100% of the time… I’ll still shoot anyone who breaks in. And if that has negative mental, legal, or social consequences…. so be it.

        7. avatar Chad says:

          neiowa, I live in a similar low crime rural area and fit many of your “moron” signs… 😉 I have 4 exterior doors that we use all throughout the day, I don’t lock them all at night and I never lock my vehicle doors. I DO have a central alarm that arms all the door sensors at night, have an alert dog with crazy bark, and have loaded guns near my bed. What the heck is a doorknob lock going to do??? Not going to stop any redneck with an intent on getting in! Very funny note though, my mother in law doesn’t like guns at all or that I own them, but whenever she visits she goes throughout the house locking all the doors!!! haha

        8. avatar Westward Ho says:

          Barbour should be charged with felony murder, or at least manslaughter. He should have foreseen that a sleepwalker might enter his home and get shot. And his failure to lock his door was an overt act contributing to the killing of the intruder.

          Also, women who dress like that are totally asking to be raped, and they should similarly be charged with being an accessory to their own rape.

          In other words, you’re an idiot.

    2. avatar Alan Wayne Rose says:

      What difference does it make.

      Maybe he hadn’t gone to bed yet

      Maybe “Things like this don’t happen around here.”

      Maybe he just carried in a load of groceries.

      Maybe his lock was broken.

      Maybe he forgot.

      It’s not illegal to leave your door unlocked.

      1. avatar Sian says:

        “It’s not illegal to leave your door unlocked.”

        Nope, but it is colossally stupid.

        Being stupid is also not illegal.

        1. avatar American Patriot says:

          Why would it be stupid to leave your door unlocked while your awake & still moving around? I mean it’s his house! Are you saying it’s OK to enter someones else’s home if the door is open….Don’t be stupid. We’re talking about a 71 year old man in a walker how else is he going to protect his home. I didn’t see a time mentioned in the article.
          If anyone knows the Tueller rule then you know a man in a 21′ radius can reach you with a knife in 1.5 seconds.
          It was the intruders & his familys responsibility to handle his problem & make others aware of his issues. It tragic but blaming the victim for not locking the door is just F**king stupid.

        2. avatar Sian says:

          Ever heard the phrase “Good locks make good neighbors”?

          A locked door would have prevented this tragedy.

          These days if your door’s unlocked a cop might walk into your house and shoot you dead.

          Especially with his limited mobility, even a determined attacker would be slowed down and provide warning by a locked door.

        3. avatar Ardent says:

          Patriot said the important overlooked part here…the guy was on a walker, slow getting to the door, neighbors drop by to help him…he likely leaves it unlocked so that when someone knocks he can just call them in without getting up. This person failed to knock, let himself in, wouldnt leave or explain himself when confronted with lethal force, and got killed for it.
          One of these people is an idiot…its the one who knew he sometimes left his home at night and wondered around unconscious and unaware. He needed to take precautions to prevent himself getting hurt, he failed to do so, thus he is responsible for his own death just as if he had walked out in front of a bus or driven into a lake. There is only one victim here, it’s the poor fellow who had to shoot this moron. Society cannot be expected to accommodate every possible unexpected scenario, that is up to the individual who can anticipate his particular special needs. I’d say it’s quite fortunate the fellow was killed then and there before he “accidentally” caused someone else’s death while wondering around unconscious in the world. The level of irresponsibility if this individual is staggering, and luckily we aren’t talking about a bus load of dead school kids he plowed into or caused to run off the road to avoid running him over. To think for a moment that anyone is responsible for his death but him is without grounding in either evidence or logic.

    3. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I haven’t locked my door in 25 years. I would not advise you to walk in during the day, never mind at night. For the smartasses in the group, my house is mostly glass, there’s rocks right outside the door, why have the costs of a new door added to any theft costs? And eat your heart out if you cannot even imagine what it’s like to leave your door open without worry.
      To be fair, in my life I have lived in areas where every home looked exactly the same. Of course you lock your door, to prevent simple mistakes. My house is one of a kind, no one can claim he thought it was one which he owned.

      1. avatar Ing says:

        If you have a door and *never* lock it, you’re a fool. I wish you health and safety, but you are a fool.

        1. avatar Shallnot BeInfringed says:

          Disagree. It depends entirely on where you live and who your neighbors are.

          I grew up on a dairy farm. One time in the early ’70s we were leaving for a week or more on an out-of-state vacation. Looked around for hours, but we couldn’t find the house key… let me reiterate, THE key! Nobody remembered seeing it anywhere for at least a couple years.

          Granted, that was a long time ago – but places like that DO still exist, despite the fact that you’re not aware of any. I’m sure there are many places in Texas where strangers wouldn’t dare go anywhere near unlocked doors.

        2. avatar Ing says:

          My parents live in one of those places, and I grew up in one. There hasn’t been a home burglary or a violent crime there in my lifetime, or maybe ever. There have been a few incidents of tools getting stolen from isolated outbuildings (unlocked of course) in recent years, but that’s it.

          But they still lock the door at night and when they’re not home, and they usually (but not always) lock the car. Because they’re not foolish. It’s easy to do, and it can’t make you *less* secure. It’s the prudent thing to do no matter where you are.

        3. avatar Chad says:

          Guess I’m a fool… I don’t even know where my house keys are! Bought the house and have never used them…

      2. avatar Ardent says:

        I understand…my home is secluded on 14 wooded acres from which no neighbor can be seen. I lock my doors when I leave, shower, or go to bed, but I’m under no illusions; my home is so secluded that when my wife and I aren’t home one could use anything from a rock to an antitank missile to gain entry without drawing any attention. When we are home obviously we would notice someone smashing their way inside…but at over 3000 sqft spread out over two stories and partially built into a hill, there are places where one could break glass and enter that might go unnoticed by the occupants of the house.
        When not at home, the gate which bars the driveway well before my house can be seen certainly provides more protection than locked doors ever could, since an intruder could pound away with a sledge hammer or open the walls with a chainsaw without being noticed at all…and could certainly make entrance by prying or breaking a window. My home security when I am away is partially the gate, which is locked and is in view of my nearest neighbor, with whom I’m friendly enough that he would and has asked questions of those stopped at the gate, and which absolutely bars vehicular access to my house, forcing a 300 yard hike up and down hills to access my house while locked. The remainder is the fact that my house is invisible from anywhere outside the gate/fence/property boundary, and partially incidental to the relatively low incidence of burglary in my area.

        While at home the gate is usually open, and the doors of the home locked. However, the design of my home (I didn’t design it) is such that entry via ground floor windows in the front (accessing the living room and front entry way) would be vanishingly easy…toss in a paving stone from the flower bed, unlock window and open, step through open window. The situation is such that a person who disregards the danger of being cut (or prepares for same) leaping through a broken window could enter my living room in seconds from the first indication of trouble (in this case, the sound of breaking glass).

        Also worthy of consideration is the simple fact that most knob locks on most external residential doors can be instantaneously defeated by a strong man throwing himself into them, or else a normal strength man giving them a strong kick at about door handle level. This takes seconds at most, and generally grants access within a second or so of the first alarm (in this case the sound of the door being kicked or forced). Deadbolts, especially in combination with knob locks, provide considerably more resistance. I have dead bolts on every door, and use them. However, between 1 and 3 strikes from a 3 to 10 pound hammer will open a common residential door secured by a combination of knob and dead bolt locks. This takes less than 5 seconds and can be accomplished by any man of normal ability. This still grants only a few seconds from first alarm (the sound if the door being struck) to the intruder accessing the home.

        I realize this post is going on forever, but the constant, ignorant presumptions and assertions of people who clearly know little about the topic requires a detailed rebuttal.
        The simple fact is that the vast majority of homes are vulnerable to penetration in under 5 seconds by a man of normal ability wielding commonly available tools. Yes, a locked door will dissuade sleep walkers, children and casual intruders, but are useless against even a mediocre burglar except as an alarm. Read that again, and note I did not say they delayed a burglar, because they practically don’t. Locked doors tell honest people to go away, and prevent casual attempts at entry, but are merely noise makers where a determined burglar is attempting entry.

        Given all this, and with the understanding that home defense is important to me, what’s to be done?
        First, I carry a pistol, all the time, in my pajamas, in my bed, in the bathroom, while I shower and while I cook.
        Second, larger, more effective pistols are strategically seeded throughout my home. They are out of sight and casual discovery, but readily available to my wife and I in every room in the house.
        Third there are shotguns and carbines seeded in strategic places throughout the house. I’d seldom need to take more than a few steps to replace my little house pistol, or G19 primary EDC with another full size handgun, and in any 20 steps inside the house I could arm myself with either a rifle or shotgun.

        Looking to the military, obstacles are only considered obstacles when they are under observation and have fires available to cover them. This is because there is no obstacle man can create that other men cannot overcome given time and opportunity. More and better locks are at best slight delaying obstacles unless you are observing them and prepared to put fire on them. At worst, they are louder, longer alarms to warn you to prepare to defend your home.

        Not locking your doors isn’t really sensible, but the very idea that locked doors provide some sort of effective protection in and of themselves is naive and foolish. Any home which cannot be breached in under 30 seconds with a common framing hammer is properly called a fortress, and is likely to resemble such. If your home is a spec suburban dwelling, the walls themselves will not resist attempts at entry by ax, hatchet or sledgehammer for more than 30-40 seconds. Even a brick home with steel doors generally has windows that allow very rapid ingress to anyone who can throw a brick or paving stone. Even steel residential doors set into brick exterior walls will open in seconds to an ordinary man wielding an 8lb hammer…
        Your home gives you concealment and alarm, not cover and protection. You must defend it, since unless you’ve built a proper fortress, it cannot possibly defend you. Don’t allow yourself the false security of thinking your home can somehow repel an intruder, odds are it can barely slow them down.

        Reference the OP: the occupant defended the home, not the other way around. That’s not only the way it worked, it’s the only way it can work.

    4. avatar Mark N. says:

      Maybe, just maybe, because “he uses a walker to get around and relied on caregivers.” He may not be able to get to the door to let people in when needed, or in an emergency. My wife uses a walker and relies on a caregiver (me). She cannot get to the front door except in extremis (e.g., the house is on fire).

    5. avatar GS650G says:

      People with medical conditions leave their doors unlocked quite often. Doesn’t mean sleepwalkers can come in

  3. avatar jwm says:

    There’s so much tragedy here. A true no win situation.

  4. avatar American Patriot says:

    Yeah….it’s the shooters fault for not locking the door…..Just like it’s American’s fault for all the illegals in the country for not locking our door.
    Another euphuism to say build the F**king wall, to stop sh*t from happening.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      It’s not about “fault” it’s about avoiding a tragedy. Why can’t you stop being so defensive and take a moment to look past the trees to see the forest?

      1. avatar American Patriot says:

        No you’re right it’s not about fault as some are making it out to be, it’s a tragedy that this even happen. But if someone entered my house the same thing would happen, since we have entered a society where lawlessness is becoming the norm (thank a Lib) there is no longer trust of an unknown especially unlawfully entering your home. So my first response is to protect me & my own FIRST because if you wait to find out you & yours could be laying on the floor bleeding out……That will be the new norm!

        1. avatar Ardent says:

          You bring up good points and made me think. I discussed this with my wife, and she determined that given an intruder in our home at night who was not obeying verbal commands to leave or surrender, she would shoot. She has a CCW and EDCs a SIG P938 with a spare mag. Her skill level is intermidiate: she can draw and deliver effectively accurate fire at inside the house distances, but would struggle to report 3 hits per second at 15 feet or to ensure reliable head shots at 10. I concur with her decision, given her skills and armament, I too would shoot such an intruder. I tend to carry a G19, 16 rounds of 9 in a more shootsble platform, and a total of 56 rounds between my spare mags and BUG. I can deliver 3 hits per second at 15 feet on a human torso, and can reliably select head shots at that range with say 50 to 75% accuracy…at the rate of 3 per second. I’m also male, and fairly confident in my ability to run, grapple and otherwise fight effectively against an unarmed and non aggressive intruder.
          I determined I likely would not shoot, content to monitor the intruder and report via 911 while awaiting police assistance. This is largely due to my perception and belief that I could rapidly and reliably incapacitate the intruder with my handgun in the event he became aggressive.
          Neither is right or wrong absolutely, but rather each is right based on our abilities and perception of the threat involved. I too would have shot such an intruder if I lacked either the mobility and physical ability to resist effectively and/or the advanced handgun skills to rapidly and reliably incapacitate the intruder at will. Of course either of us could be wrong…she may not need to shoot, and I may suffer for not having immediately shot such an intruder, but such things are judgement calls.
          The important takeaway is that the judgement to shoot or not ought to be with the lawful occupant experiencing an intrusion, and not with police, prosecutors, grand juries, judges, trial juries and the like.
          As an aside, I fell in the shower last night injuring my left knee, right foot, left elbow and right hand as well as my lower back, which has problemed me for years. If I awake tonight to an intruder, my reduced mobility and ability to resist effectively either physically or ballistically is likely to alter my judgement on whether or not to shoot. More generally, my decision on when shooting is necessary is driven by a variety of highly variable factors across different people and within the same person over time. That is, only the person facing the intruder has the information necessary to determine whether or not shooting is justified and or necessary, and nothing should take that decision away from the individual.

      2. avatar LarryinTX says:

        How are you going to see either from behind a locked door?

      3. avatar Defens says:

        As Hannibal is attempting to point out, there’s a difference between being legally within your rights, and averting a sad situation by simply exercising some judgement. I would have no qualms in defending my family and home if someone breaks in. At the same time, even as a 60+, non-burly guy, if a neighbor entered my house unannounced, my first impulse would not be to shoot him or her.

        I try to prevent that situation by locking my door – which is appropriate for where I live in a very rural neighborhood, where we all live on acreage. But, my home also has a lot of glass, and would be relatively to enter even if locked. A sober neighbor wouldn’t be breaking my windows, though.

  5. avatar Alan Wayne Rose says:

    He used a walker to get around but apparently didn’t need one when he was sleep walking. And NOBODY can prove he was sleepwalking when he was shot. Maybe he wanted to “explore” his new neighborhood.

    1. avatar Jr says:

      You got them mixed up. The old guy uses the walker

    2. avatar HoundDogDave says:

      The shooter was the one who needed to use a walker, not the sleepwalker.

    3. avatar Alan Wayne Rose says:

      Oops! Well that changes a lot. Disabled man shoots to protect himself. Thanks for pointing that out!

    4. avatar Ardent says:

      As others pointed out, you’re confusing facts about the shooter and shootee. That aside, you raise a question no one else seems to have addressed but which stands out to me: Is there any evidence that the intruder was in fact sleep walking at the time of his death? I don’t know one way or the other, but it seems to me that this sleep walking thing may either be a cover for a habit of committing burglary, or a device being used by the family to either develop sympathy for their lost family member, deflect shame due to his criminal acts, or lay the ground work for a civil case against the man who shot him.
      It may be that he was actually sleepwalking and unaware of his intrusion, but lacking evidence outside the assertions of the deceased man’s sister, it seems unfair and unreasonable to concmudebthat the intruder was sleep walking. That’s an assertion without evidence and yet is central to debate.
      Personally whether or not the intruder was sleep walking is irrelevant, since the lawful occupant who shot him had no reason to know this nor would it be, to my mind, an important distinction: There is no doubt that the deceedant unlawfully intruded on the lawful occupant, who was and ought to be within his rights to defend himself and his home by lethal means. Regardless of how the man came to be there, he legally met the standard for a lethal force intervention.

  6. avatar Alan Wayne Rose says:

    Christian also said, “I just don’t know why the first thought is to shoot. I wish he would have called the police. [Miller] would’ve probably been still standing there when they got there.”

    Nope. Not calling the police when Mysterious Stranger is wandering around in my house in the dead of night, in the dark. High potential they’ll get there just in time to chalk my body as it assumes room temperature.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Well, to be fair the homeowner’s first thought was NOT to shoot. Rather, the homeowner’s first thought was to yell at the intruder to get out and allow the intruder to leave of his on volition! When that failed, the homeowner then resorted to ballistic persuasion.

      And there is no way that a homeowner should “wait for police” when an intruder is standing in your home and ignoring your orders to leave the premises. That could easily prove fatal for the homeowner.

      1. avatar Ardent says:

        Not only could it prove lethal, there are important self defense and property rights issues at question. Do I, as homeowner, have a duty to assess the intent of an intruder in my home? The law and common sense agree here, no such duty exists.
        Second is the question of the rights one has as homeowner or lawful occupant: Do you have the right to expel an intruder by any means up to and including lethal force, or must you mitigate your response based in the perceived viability of awaiting assistance from police? Again, law and common sense agree that the lawful occupant has the right to use any necessary force to expel or incapacitate the intruder, including lethal force.
        I submit that the way it is happens to be the way it ought to be: A lawful occupant has the right to use any force up to and including lethal force to expel or incapacitate an unlawful intruder, with no duty to first determine either the intent of the intruder nor to asses the viability of withholding use of force until police may intervene. The sole duty here is that of the intruder not to unlawfully enter upon the premises of another. If the lawful occupant determines that the intruder does not present a threat, or that such threat as may be presented in his determination can await the arrival of police, then the occupant may well either allow the intruder to remain, or await the arrival of police while still determined that the intruder must leave. However, the occupant does not and should not have any duty to the intruder to make or abide by any such determinations. That is, the sole arbiter of whether lethal force is justified on the part of the occupant regarding the unlawful intruder is the occupant, without reservation or second guessing by outside entities (ie prosecutors and the like).
        Simply put, one has the right but not the duty to shoot an intruder, while likewise one has the right but not the duty to not shoot an intruder. This is as it should be.

  7. avatar Hannibal says:

    Lock. Your. Door. All of this could have been so easily avoided. Why are you scared enough to shoot someone but not scared enough to flip a lock?

    “WAHHHH it’s not illegal to leave your door unlocked!”

    Who gives a shit. It’s not “illegal” for a young lady to walk down dark alleys in Chicago in her underwear, but she’s a dumbass if she does it and others should learn from that mistake to avoid making it. Someone is now dead; that someone posed no real threat to the gun owner. It’s true that it was a legitimate perceived threat, and thus not a ‘bad shoot’ but that’s only one part of this tragedy.

    By leaving his door unlocked, he severely limited his own options to a binary choice: shoot or don’t shoot. Both of them were potentially deadly outcomes. Both of them were much, much worse options than those he could have taken if he heard someone just jiggling his door knob. Don’t limit yourself to a couple of bad options because you’re complacent.

    1. avatar Binder says:

      How about this. A young lady to walk down dark alleys in Chicago in her underwear, and shoots the guy who tried to rape her.

      If you are going to use lethal force to defend something, you should take basic steps to secure it. Otherwise you start getting into the realm of man-traps. Unlocked door at night with lethal force is a gray area man-trap.

      1. avatar Ing says:

        Er…no. If you had a doormat that said “Don’t bother knocking, come on in!” and left the door open, then maybe. And even that’s a stretch.

        The very existence of a door lets everyone on the outside know that what’s inside is someone else’s private space. Leaving a door unlocked may be foolish, but that’s all it is. It’s not an invitation or a trap.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      So you guys know all about the requirements and abilities of an elderly disabled man, enough to criticize his life choices and offer commands, or advice, whatever? Jeez, this is disgusting.

      1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

        Gotta agree.

        He might have needed EMS or his caregiver to have a way in without breaking down the door.

        just sayin because I’ve not locked mine when I was recovering from surgery..

    3. avatar Dev says:

      Or you could be less condescending (or stupid, your choice) and realize that a 71 year old man with illnesses requiring caregivers may forget to lock the door once in a while?

    4. avatar Chip in Florida says:

      “…but not scared enough to flip a lock?”

      You, sir, are a grade a wanker.

      I have a relative who recently spent time in hospice and they were instructed to leave one of their doors unlocked. Yes, I said instructed, as in they were told to keep it unlocked. The hospice staff needed to be able to get in to take care of whatever needed taking care of even when the patient might not be lucid enough to let them in.

      And the elderly man in the story is old enough to potentially be in the same situation.

      Or he simply forgot.

      Doesn’t matter why the door was unlocked because it was his house and a stranger was in his house.

      So you can take your wahhhh and shove it up …… Expletive deleted.

      The elderly guy was justified in shooting. Sucks for you if you don’t like that but it’s a good shoot.

    5. avatar Timothy says:

      “Why are you scared enough to shoot someone, but not scared enough to lock your door?”

      When I get home from work, I’m thinking about being off from work. When someone breaks into my house, I’m thinking about the fact that someone just broke into my house. Different circumstances have different levels of fear. Apologies if that’s too complicated for you.

      I lock my door at bedtime, but I wouldn’t recommend breaking into my house around dinner. I’ve also forgotten to lock my door at night. Believe it or not, very few people are mistake free like you apparently are. But I wouldn’t recommend breaking into my house, even if I forget to lock my door.

  8. avatar strych9 says:

    Well that sucks for everyone involved.

  9. avatar The Rookie says:

    Sad story. 🙁

  10. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    The only fault in this case lies with the deceased and/or the deceased’s caretakers. If you are a known sleepwalker of this magnitude, then you and your caretakers need to lock your home in such a way that you cannot get out while sleepwalking.

    The deceased could just as easily have stepped in front of a car on the street and died from the resulting injuries. Would the person driving that car share any responsibility for a sleepwalker who suddenly steps in front of their car? NO! Neither does a homeowner have any responsibility for stepping up to ballistic intervention after the sleepwalker (unknown to the homeowner to be sleepwalking) repeated refuses verbal commands to vacate.

    For that matter the sleepwalker could also have stepped into a vehicle and drove away — killing all the occupants of another vehicle. Again, this is squarely on the sleepwalker and his caretakers.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Similar problem: my mother has Alzheimer’s disease and we are preparing for the day when she will wander away from home. And that preparation will consist of audible alarms on the doors as well as deadbolt locks with a key that only family and caretakers can access.

    2. avatar Binder says:

      Defending unsecured property with lethal force is the issue. Not someone sleepwalking.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Bullshit. When I walk down a public street I am not “secured”, and I will kill you if you attack me. Stop making up stupid crimes which aren’t.

    3. avatar strych9 says:

      “…lock your home in such a way that you cannot get out while sleepwalking.”

      Effectively impossible without locking it from the outside which is almost certainly illegal.

      1. avatar rt66paul says:

        People have been known to dress for work, drive a vehicle to get there and then awaken. This can happen because of drugs, but can also happen to someone who sleepwalks. People seem to be able to “see”, but their subconscious takes over and they have no conscious.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          People have been known to dress for work, drive a vehicle to get there and then awaken. … can also happen to someone who sleepwalks.

          I have a family friend who did exactly that.

      2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        strych9,

        As we have said on this site before, some people require custodians. This sleepwalker was quite likely one such person.

        By the way, a possible alternative is a VERY loud alarm — loud enough to awaken the sleepwalker — on the main entry door. The sleepwalker could enable that alarm before going to bed and disable it when awake. (I doubt the sleepwalker would have the where-with-all to disable that alarm while sleepwalking.) Or it could be on a timer and automatically arm/disarm at appropriate times of day.

        Another possible alternative: an electronic lock on the door that requires a complex and changing procedure to unlock. For example the lock could display a simple number (that changes every 10 minutes) and requires the person to enter that number divided by two to disengage the lock.

        However you slice it up, it was the sleepwalker’s responsibility to ensure that he did NOT walk into someone else’s home while sleepwalking.

  11. avatar HoundDogDave says:

    I had a similar encounter with a sleepwalker entering my unlocked door after dark. The Culprit was only 10 years old and was awfully luck my dogs only growled at him. I was startled and shouted at him “WTF do you think you’re doing?” All I got back was a dead blank stare and a “huh?” as he continued to walk toward the hallway. I recognized him as the new neighbor’s oldest boy. I gently directed him out the door and across the street. The neighbor had just returned home with his kids in the car, all asleep. He had picked up the 3-year-old and was putting her to bed before gathering the 2 boys, 8 and 10. The older boy was a known sleepwalker so it was no big surprise to Dad. We had a good laugh over it, but I think we both felt fairly uneasy that it happened.

  12. avatar Gregolas says:

    I assume the victim’s door was not locked b/c he was disabled and didn’t want cops or EMT’s to have break in should he have a life threatening emergency. Not a good idea to leave you door unlocked, but some do under those conditions. He certainly should have called 911, since the intruder was clearly no threat.
    Here in AL, the homeowner could have been charged with murder. Mere illegal entry of another’s home, without more, is First Degree Trespass, a misdemeanor property crime. AL law forbids the use of deadly force merely to protect property. Check/study/know your state statutes. They may say you cannot blow away a nonviolent sleepwalker, mentally retarded person, or drunk who just walks in your house.
    Plus, even if your state allows you to kill an intruder who is non-threatening, do you really want to live with that act, owning it for the rest of your life, simply b/c you “had a legal right” to ? Not me.

    1. avatar rt66paul says:

      It would be down to how threatening the sleepwalker looked, if a breakin had happened locally and the circumstances in that neighborhood. What could be non-threatening to one person could just scare another person because of his non-communicative attitude.

      Many people are scared of the unknown, different races, sizes or ages. It is very hard to say what is in another person’s mind at the time of the incident.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Gregolas,

      He certainly should have called 911, since the intruder was clearly no threat.

      How could the homeowner have known that? A stranger walks into your home and refuses to leave when you yell at him to leave. All the while, the intruder is giving you the “thousand yard stare”. Then the intruder starts walking toward you. That behavior is totally consistent with someone who is a deranged psychopath, high on LSD, or even demon-possessed if you believe in that sort of thing. Hesitating to incapacitate such an intruder could result in your untimely demise. Unfortunately, that leaves no room for second guessing.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        And we have not even talked about the possibility of an intruder who could have dementia, become confused, and become extremely combative.

        Regardless of the cause, when purposefully proper behavior no longer controls a person, that person is a serious threat to everyone around them.

        1. avatar Ardent says:

          Indeed: If confronted in one’s home, how much triage and diagnosis is require on the part of the occupant regarding the intruder? Currently the law indicates that none is required. Specifically, castle doctrine indicates that an intruder into an occupied dwelling may be assumed to have lethal intentions, and justifies a lethal force response. The whole point of castle doctrine and the concept behind it is to remove the lawful occupant of a dwelling from second guessing or any duty to attempt to determine the nature and intent of the intrusion. It is presumed the intruder has a lethally nefarious intent. This isn’t occurring in a vacuum. An intruder may be presumed to be aware of the fact that intruding into an occupied dwelling is assumed to have nefarious and lethal intent. Thus a potential intruder is able, and must be presumed, to have considered the fact that his intrusion will be taken for a nefarious and lethal attack. Such intruder, so informed, who persists in intruding may then doubly be supposed to mean lethal attack, since such intrusion has a foregone social and legal conclusion. That is; regardless of an intruders actual intent, the very fact that it is common knowledge that an intrusion into an occupied dwelling may be and generally is assumed to demonstrate lethal intent further proves the intruders nefarious and lethal intent.
          Persons who suffer from dementia may find themselves in violation of the law in any number of ways. However, rarely are these infractions of any serious nature. The willingness to persist in intruding into an occupied dwelling, against the vociferous and armed objection of the legal occupant, expresses a level of threat three times the normal threshold for lethal response: 1. The intruder knows that intruding into an occupied dwelling is socially and legal considered a lethal threat. 2. The reaction of the occupant indicates a serious conflict rapidly progressing to a lethal conflict…3. The failure to deescalate in the face of two indications of the lethal nature of the encounter actually demonstrate lethal intent on the part of the intruder.

          The takeaway is that normal dementia patients don’t go into others homes by force, those who do generally desist on being confronted with the prospect of lethal force, and those who don’t present a real threat of lethal intent . That is; anyone who isn’t running for their lives after forcing entry into a dwelling and being confronted with the threat of lethal force defacto presents a threat of lethal force and can justifiably be shot.

          Every situation has it’s own nuances, but I would never wish to introduce some duty to determine the intent of an intruder into an occupied dwelling as a condition of using lethal force to stop said intrusion. If, in fact, that occasionally kills a few dementia patients or brain damages individuals, responsibility for their deaths rests soley on the shoulders of those persons, their families and their caregivers, not the homeowner who has to confront their unwanted and unexpected intrusion in the night. If one party must risk death in such circumstances, let it be them who has the issues which caused them to undertake the intrusion, not the unknowing and innocent dweller if the place being intruded upon.
          All that said however, the incidents of unintentional intrusion, against the threat of lethal force, by those of diminished capacity is vanishingly rare. Further, being killed while intruding into an occupied dwelling is only a small risk within the multitude of lethal outcomes possible by allowing a person of such diminished capacity to roam freely that is hardly bares a conversation. A person unable to keep themself out of others homes should in no way be free to intrude into anothers home, requires considerably more attention and physical barriers to such roaming, not only for their own safety, but for that of the general public to be free from the real threat they pose, and the real problems created by their so roaming. Put another way, regardless of the reason for their intruding into anothers home, being stopped from it by lethal intervention is still the appropriate response. It is not ok to intrude into anothers home, period. If someone isn’t able to stop themselves doing so, we have homes, facilities, hospitals and prisons readily available to house them based on the cause of their inability. For the lawful occupant of a home being intruded upon, there should be no duty but that of defending the dwelling. Any duty to the intruder is rightfully someone elses.

  13. avatar Icabod says:

    The news article noted that Miller and his sister had agreed to let him try living on his own “again.” It would seem Miller had made at least one prior attempt that did not work out.
    Miller had a known condition that resulted in “bizarre behavior.” No doubt his sister had taken precautions to protect him. An obvious one would be to secure the doors so he wouldn’t would remain inside (be it a keyed exit, passcode or alarm). Another would be to inform the neighbors. HoundDogDave recognized it was his neighbor’s child. Certainly, if a neighbor saw Miller, they would have know who he was and what his condition was.
    Last! I’ve care and travelled with people that used walkers. The things are big, clumsy and get caught on everything. Barbour, faced with someone walking at him, had little chance to retreat.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I hesitate to put too much on the sister, I’m sure she has done her best, and cared. But I agree here, probably the best answer would have been for her to visit all neighbors, with her brother, and explained the situation. If the shooter had recognized him, the problem would have been over.

    2. avatar Ardent says:

      This makes a certain sense. My wife and I thought of an alarmed front door that has a math problem to disable. Such are available, and working even basic math problems ensures higher cognitive function that absent seizures or slepnwalking would account for.
      We even discussed the value is his wearing a tee shirt to bed that clearly read something like “CHRONIC SLEEPWAKER. NOT A THREAT. PLEASE CALL 911 FOR ME.”
      I can imagine many people would never see the shirt, or read it, or buy into it…then again, if a flyer had advised you of an adult sleepwalker in the area and indicated he’d be wearing such a shirt…potentially lifesaving while both cheap and easy.
      The point is that there were effective and available means to mitigate this sort of tragedy. One could argue that this man, the sleepwalker, owed a certain due dilligance to ensure he didn’t cause all sorts of mayhem wondering the streets in his diminished state. I’d imagine if he had a history of these types of episodes that having failed to take even token measures to prevent his nocturnal wondering, he could well find himself civilly and criminally liable for whatever may take place while in such a state.
      I said all of that to say this; the incident makes an interesting microcosmic examination of progressive versus conservative thought. Where as a progressive insists that if no one had a gun, and the homeowner had had merely called the police and retreated from the intruder, the unfortunate intruder would still be alive and if the homeowner had only locked his door (requiring both a purchase and an overt act that affects the usage of his property), this would never have happened.
      A conservative sees this and thinks that poor man (the homeowner), he had to be frightened out of bed and terrified into shooting this deranged individual, who owed a due diligence to his neighbor and society to ensure his aberrant behavior didn’t result in problems for the rest of society, and certainly that he didn’t end up invading his neighbors home. Of course the homeowner, confronted with an intruder acting bizzzarly, was within his rights (and prudence) to shoot this fellow. The homeowners decision or oversight in not locking his door is obviously irrelevant, since the homeowner lacked a duty to even have a lock, let alone utilize it, and furthermore no duty to install nor employ physical barriers to prevent his neighbors unwanted, unannounced and unlawful intrusion. This follows from the notion a person ought to be inviolate within his home, and has a positive right to be left alone within, while his intruder ignored a positive duty to remain without.

      Black and white, two vary different views. One of which extolls the virtues of individual liberty while asserting the individual duties incumbent upon such liberty and comprises the pinnacle of western democratic though and philosophy.

      The other is logically flawed and asserts duties upon others that cannot be justified within a free society, while being dependant upon flawed assertions that cannot be made to work in an open society. Further, it denies the inherent rights of ownership and privacy while relegating the natural right of self defense as secondary to one’s duty toward unknown and unpredictable others, regardless of their attention either to their own duties or limits to their liberties.

      This second philosophy suffers from always requiring the compliant, the law abiding and the conciencious to be subservient to, responsible to and at the mercy of those who will not, cannot or otherwise do not obey the mutually agreed upon rules of conduct. It subjugated the rights of some to the lack of duty of others and rewards only those who disregard their duties and others liberties in favor of exceeding their own and capitalizing on that of their fellows.
      This twisted design is precisely what psychopaths would foist upon those they would have be their victims, and what the would be tyrant would attempt to enact on those over whom he would rule.
      That in our present debate this latter is considered by so many to be the moral high ground is a testament to the pervasiveness of progressive propaganda as much as it’s effectiveness. However, given its logical inconsistencies and rather obvious failings both morally and practically, it can and should be rejected where ever it is encountered.

  14. avatar el Possum Guapo Herr Standartenfuher" they think we're making pizza's" Oberst von Burn says:

    I’ve slept walk twice that I know of, then I joined the Army. ,, ,. // However on sleep walking, first time was Mom found me in the kitchen with a knife banging a pan, I dreamt I was cutting string, weird huh. The next Dad found me in the yard digging a hole, was dreaming I was digging a hole, however I was barefooted and had cut my foot a little stepping on the shovel what’s strange is in my sleep I never felt it. So I reckon if you get shot dead in your sleep you probably don’t feel it?

  15. avatar American Patriot says:

    I’m sure relieved to know that when your dead you don’t feel it, I’ll definitely remember that! Thanks

    1. avatar el Possum Guapo Herr Standartenfuher "they think we're making pizza's" Oberst von Burn says:

      I’ve heard it hurts worse when it’s cold. I wonder about during an ore gasm?

  16. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    What a messed up situation.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      The shooting or the comments?

      1. avatar Ing says:

        I’d say both. As usual.

  17. avatar Southern Cross says:

    There is a myth the shock of waking a sleepwalker may kill them. It is a myth because sleepwalkers are likely to kill themselves walking into traffic or onto train tracks. Or into someone else’s home at night.

    And a sleepwalker may show the same signs as someone who has taken drugs (unresponsive, disoriented, etc) so it is a difficult call to make.

    So wake up the sleepwalker for their own benefit.

    1. avatar American Patriot says:

      That’s apparently thats what the home owner tried to do with the sound of the blast. But the home owner just didn’t know what a good shoot he still was!

  18. avatar TFred says:

    As the theme goes:

    “This door is locked for YOUR protection, not mine.”

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