Octogenarian Shot Dead With His Own Gun After Confronting a Burglar on His Patio

Full length of burglar with flashlight and crowbar in office corridor

As John Boch recently discussed, it’s not a good idea to go outside to confront a suspicious person in your yard. Around 3:30 a.m. this past Monday morning in Las Vegas, an elderly homeowner in his eighties lost his life in a struggle with a stranger on his patio.

That stranger was Sheldon Thomas, age 34. Based on reports, it appears that police were already searching for a prowler in the west Las Vegas neighborhood in response to a call: Someone had been breaking fences in an attempt to get into residents’ backyards. When officers arrived at one home, however, they found an elderly victim suffering from a gunshot wound on his enclosed patio. Shortly afterward, still at the scene, medical personnel pronounced him dead.

It’s not clear whether the gentleman himself had called the police, but we do know that he walked out of his home and onto the patio with a gun to confront Thomas. When he did, a fight over the gun ensued, and Thomas won the fight.

Thomas was arrested while walking away from that house and is now facing one charge of murder with a deadly weapon.

Sheldon Thomas

The difference between us pro-2A people and anti-gun people in a situation like this is that we neither blame the gun itself nor believe that the homeowner shouldn’t have had one. Indeed, only a few hours later in Cleveland, a woman defended herself and three children by returning fire at two home invaders who burst through her door and started shooting. She was shot in the stomach and transported to the hospital shortly afterwards, but she was able to save at least three (hopefully four) lives because she was armed.

Deadly force is only as good as its user. Practice good judgment by using it only in the gravest extreme, avoiding a gunfight if at all possible.

comments

  1. avatar jwm says:

    80’s is not the time to be John Wayneing it. Let the bad guy come to you in a time and place of your choosing. Then keep shooting til he bursts into flames or changes shape.

    Does Nevada have the death penalty?

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      JWM,

      Then keep shooting til he bursts into flames or changes shape.

      I don’t know how you do it! (I am still laughing out loud.)

    2. avatar RA-15 says:

      I sure hope so , I agree the older gentlemen should have waited until the scumbag entered his home , made sure he had the distance , and advantage. Then fired his weapon. One less bad guy would be a better ending , than an innocent senior gent losing his life to a thug. So like JWM I hope the needle is an option , this piece of s… Deserves to loose his life. What kind of lowlife kills a Sr citizen after disarming him ? He could have taken the gun & run.

    3. avatar Kroglikepie says:

      Yes, they do. However, all the Commiefornians are trying their damndest to change Vegas into East California so who knows if it will ever be applied again. Hell, that POS Sisolak may very well win the Governorship, and he shouldn’t even be elected as dog catcher!

    4. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

      Tanker by any chance?

      1. avatar jwm says:

        No. But my time in service put me close to armor a few times. Mostly 113’s. But the occasional m60 as well.

        1. avatar GluteusMaximus says:

          Oh you must be older than me. Ha ha Just kidding

        2. avatar frank speak says:

          sleeping under the track always made those guys very popular….

  2. avatar Yarbles says:

    Criminal Baboon hunting at 85 not advisable.

    1. avatar RA-15 says:

      Totally agree !!

  3. avatar Fudds McKenzie, the Party Fudd says:

    Unfortunate.

    Outside of LE, being shot by assailent with own gun is rare. Antis believe it common. They believe the Kellerman paper which is crap to start. Then depending on how you say it, glazing over the distinction of suicides and negligent injuries, it sounds like it means people are more likely to get disarmed and shot than have a successful DGU.

  4. avatar Rocketman says:

    I believe that Marion Carl, WW2 MOH winner who was in his 80’s at the time was killed by a burglar while protecting his wife. When your that old NEVER let the bad guy get close enough to grab your gun! Empty it into him first!

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      I would hope that all righteous defenders can shoot at least once before their attacker is able to grab at their handgun.

      This reminds us of the value to practice shooting as fast as possible when your attacker is within a few feet of you. In such a scenario you won’t have to spend time on carefully aimed shots. Rather, you should pulling the trigger as fast as you can.

      1. avatar jakee308 says:

        When at the range, practice shooting one handed. A study was done and found that most all shooters at perps used one hand to shot with. Hardly anyone took a stance and used a two handed grip.

        And that makes sense because if you’re looking to shoot quick you don’t have time to set up. Even the cops do it when things get hairy fast.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Jake and Uncommon. Folks here at ttag rib and josh one another quite a bit. Caliber wars. Auto vs. revolver.

          If you find yourself at grappling range a j frame revolver has less to grab onto for the bad guy trying to disarm you and it will not go out of battery if you’re wrestling with him and have to make a contact shot. Or 5.

          I swear by the j frame.

        2. avatar John in AK says:

          There’s a caveat to that.
          Although a DA revolver will not ‘go out of battery’ if its muzzle is pressed firmly into the soft underbelly of a thug, it WILL cease to function if it is grabbed around the cylinder tightly enough so that the cylinder will not turn. Contrarily, a semi-auto will work just FINE for the first shot if its slide is grasped equally tightly–because it doesn’t HAVE to move to fire the first shot, unlike a DA revolver that has not been cocked beforehand. Frankly, the likelihood of a semi-auto’s muzzle being pressed back sufficiently to engage the disconnect feature is fairly small.
          The lesson here, of course, is to remember that handguns are intended to be ‘distance’ weapons, and don’t NEED to be brought within arm’s length, or even contact distance, to function.

        3. avatar jwtaylor says:

          John in AK,
          :the likelihood of a semi-auto’s muzzle being pressed back sufficiently to engage the disconnect feature is fairly small.”
          I happens fairly often, and before retention practices changed, it happened a lot more. It’s happened even in my tiny department.

        4. avatar John in AK says:

          Oh, I’m sorry, is this a five-minute argument, or the full half hour?

          Anyway, you’re wrong, although I’m not allowed to argue unless you’ve paid, which you haven’t, no matter what you say.

          Unless one shoves the muzzle forcefully into a yielding, conforming surface, the movement of the slide on the frame is minimal. Don’t shove, and the gun works just fine.

          One anectodal incident does not an axiom make.

          That’ll be another five pounds, please.

        5. avatar jwtaylor says:

          John in AK,
          That’s just not my experience at all. Especially on some common service pistols, like the 92FS. In general, if the slide is easy to rack, it’s easy to push out of battery.

        6. avatar Tom says:

          Jmw…. j frame revolver has less to grab onto for the bad guy trying to disarm you and it will not go out of battery if you’re wrestling with him ******* so you can stick right into the shithead and not only fill his guts with hot lead, but hot expanding gas too!

    2. avatar FI says:

      Survived WW2, gets killed at home by a thug. What a sad society.

      1. avatar Justice Bane says:

        Another fucking negro.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Another fucking idiot.

        2. avatar Andy Buckmichael says:

          They are everywhere. Worse than roaches.

        3. avatar jwm says:

          Yes. Idiots are everywhere, andy, and they’re worse than roaches. Glad you agree.

    3. avatar ViperDriver says:

      Roketman, Marion E. Carl did not receive the MOH as you posted.

  5. avatar Widdler says:

    God i hope so, no wasting tax money on this. No room and board, no meals, lets make it quick. Slam the gavel, walk him out back and put him down. Next!

    1. avatar RA-15 says:

      And don’t waste a bullet. Trash like this guy aren’t worth the cost of a single round. We should use the French method of execution in the US , the Guillotine ! I guarantee if it were an option for punishing murderers , these dirtbags might just think twice before acting.

    2. avatar JJF says:

      Do you understand how the criminal justice system works? Apparently, nope.

      1. avatar John in AK says:

        Oh, I think that he knows very well how the criminal justice system works. . . or, rather, how it DOESN’T.

        1. avatar F says:

          Why do we keep seeing the same b.s here? Shoot him, hang him high, I would pay for the bullet….

          It’s 2018, where are we still hanging people or putting against a wall looking at the wrong side of a rifle?

        2. avatar LarryinTX says:

          When I left Saudi in 1991, their method was still beheading with a damn sword, in public, normally the first Friday after the offence was committed. I’ve had people who were not there tell me I’m mistaken. We had a guy machine gun a bus used to carry U.S. personnel from quarters to work. Only passenger was uninjured, Saudi driver wounded. It was on a Thursday, they couldn’t get him processed by the next day, but 8 days later his head was removed with a sword, in public. They also cut off the left hand for theft, though the actual amputation was done in a hospital. I seriously doubt anything has changed in that regard.

  6. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    That was very sad and tragic.

    I wonder if the homeowner was one of those types who know that they cannot pull the trigger and are counting on their firearm to “scare off” an intruder. If the homeowner was in that camp, this event illustrates the downside to that approach.

  7. avatar jakee308 says:

    Let them enter first. Then you can blast away. I’m 72 and that’s my plan.

    It’s probably scary to listen to someone breaking in especially if they’re stupid and they’re literally ‘breaking’ in.

    But you can’t shoot them if they’re outside. Call the cops and wait. You can shout out and tell them you’re armed that may stop them but they’re usually high or otherwise they wouldn’t be doing this. Real burglars like peace and quiet they mostly don’t smash things up and make noise during their break ins.

    Too bad.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      There are many cases of justified shootings where a homeowner shot someone as they broke in, rather than waiting until they got all the way in. If you can safely do so, it’s a good idea. Note that when I say ‘breaking’ in I don’t mean wiggling the door knob- I mean breaking a window, knocking down a door, etc.

  8. avatar former water walker says:

    Oh man…Scum is winning. I voted today in Cook County,IL. I’ve been angry all day. This POS needs to die.

  9. avatar Ed Rogers says:

    While it sucks the homeowner didn’t come out on top – he died with his boots on. He made his decision and fate gave him the ol’ fickle finger.

    Better than lingering in a hospital bed crapping yourself.

    Let’s hope the POS isn’t able to plea bargain his way out of a life sentence or the death penalty.

  10. avatar Kendahl says:

    At any age, the best tactic is to stay inside, behind locked doors, and wait for the bad guy to come to you. That he broke in will support your claim of self defense. If you are lucky, he will try someplace else or the cops will catch him first.

    1. avatar JS says:

      “At any age”, very true. Best comment. And going outside is not only a matter of possibly losing the tactical advantage, but also as you wrote a possible justification of SD issue.

  11. avatar Gralnok says:

    This is a sad reminder that experience, training, and most importantly owning a firearm, doesn’t mean you will win. it drastically increases your chances, but it doesn’t guarantee you will come out on top.

  12. avatar Michael says:

    Depending on local and state law an attached, fenced patio may be considered “curtilage”. It can open up an entirely different bag of self-defense snakes. This is why it is so important to retain, consult and listen to an experienced, defense attorney with a good track record and reputation. Don’t win it on the street only to lose it in the Court. -30-

  13. avatar Andy Buckmichael says:

    Shit happens.

  14. avatar zerofoo says:

    Agreed here – no need to move toward the threat when you are in your 80s.

    Stay on high ground and take a defensive position.

    1. avatar JS says:

      No need when you are 30 either. If everybody is inside, just wait…

      Imagine you go out and you shoot your good neighbor who saw/heard something and decided to go check before waking you up. Many other things can go wrong.

  15. avatar DerryM says:

    Even in California the State’s Castle Law gives the homeowner/resident the benefit of the doubt (as long as he/she stays inside the building) by allowing the dweller the presumption of a “fear” for his/her life from an unknown intruder who forcibly enters the dwelling place. If the resident/dweller goes outside the exterior walls of the building, or shoots an intruder half-in/half-out, that advantage can be forfeit. Know your State’s Laws and use them to your advantage.

  16. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Please folks, remember this the next time you hear “nobody needs firearms training” or “thugs run away as soon as someone pulls a gun”.

  17. avatar Dev says:

    So no one has ever gone outside when they heard s noise? It’s one thing if you know for sure someone is in your yard and quite another if you think it’s just your gate got open and is banging in the wind. Seems everyone is rushing to judge the victim without knowing all the facts.

    1. avatar RidgeRunner says:

      Totally have tooled up and gone outside when something went bump in the night. I guess I coulda sent my wife.

  18. avatar possum says:

    The only time anyone should be outside after twilight is looking for dead and rotten stuff to eat. If confronted scurry away as fast as you can, climb a tree if possumble. If caught bare your teeth, posture sideways and hiss. If that doesn’t work void your bowels and play dead.

  19. avatar Lawman .45 says:

    Even a 1 in 1,000,000 chance dors occur.

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      when you’re old 911 is your friend…but I always carry when I take out the garbage…those guys always seem to come at some ungodly hour…..

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