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Far be it from us to suggest that a homeowner shouldn’t have the right to defend himself and his family. If you can’t use every means available to you – up to and including deadly force – against an intruder, you might as well be living in the UK. But part of that right is also inextricably wrapped up with the responsibility to use that level of force responsibly. That’s something that appears to have been lost on one San Antonio homeowner . . .


The homeowner, in his 60s, grabbed his handgun around 8 a.m. and took several shots a man he claims was stealing a potted plant and other items from his yard at 708 Shadwell, said Sgt. Chris Benavides, a spokesman for the San Antonio Police Department.

The suspect retreated back to his van where he was shot through the windshield and grazed in the head.

One neighbor found herself in the middle of the gunfire and says at first she didn’t think it was real until she smelled the gunpowder. “He had a stance as if he was Dirty Harry.   Like come back here or I’m going to shoot you again,” said Andrea Lebron.

According to the report, the San Antonio homeowner probably won’t be charged. “At this point he is protected because he was trying to prevent theft on his property,” according to Sgt. Chris Benavides. We’ll see if that holds true when the local prosecutor reviews the facts of the case – such as shooting at someone who’s trying to get away.

You’ve read it here a hundred times: when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. But if you glance out your window and see someone loading your favorite ficus into his van, jotting down the license plate number and a quick call to 911 seems preferable to spraying the neighborhood with lead. If the plant pilferer approaches your house or looks like he has other, darker intents, that may well be another story entirely. Just sayin’.


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  1. If a crook is dumb enough to risk his life by trespassing on private property,so be it.If you kick a tiger,its always best to have a plan for dealing with its teeth.

    • That’s ridiculous, ST. You don’t shoot someone for stealing a minor item from you when you’re in no danger, not unless you’re such a fanatic that you can’t distinguish between a legitimate reason to shoot and an excuse to do so, which a guy like you will always justify afterwards.

      • I… I… think I have to agree with mike here.

        Damn. Never thought I’d say that…

        Anyway, a potted plant is not worth jail time, or the possibility of killing someone with no criminal intent.

  2. Power = Responsibility

    Killing a man over a plant = Ridiculous

    Defending your property = Legal, and shouldn’t change

  3. “One neighbor found herself in the middle of the gunfire…”

    This might be something if the shooter endangered the woman or indirectly others.

  4. “We’ll see if that holds true when the local prosecutor reviews the facts of the case – such as shooting at someone who’s trying to get away.”

    Shooting at someone who is trying to get away from a burglary is legal in Texas. I’ve parsed 9.42 of the Penal Code below.

    “A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property . . . when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary . . . to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property . . . and he reasonably believes that . . . the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means.

    • “and he reasonably believes that . . . the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means.”

      That’s the stickler. I’m not lawyer but I think that the local police department would count as “other means”

  5. Thanks Ralph you saved me some trouble. Potted plant one night, your daughter the next. Any Ahole stealing Anything from my residence at night will break out in holes if caught. Sometimes it’s good to be a Texan ya’ll.

    • It’s rarely not good to be a Texan, even a naturalized one like me. 🙂

      Still don’t think I’ll be unlimbering the artillery over a plant, at a fleeing suspect.

        • Why do you always assume you know the full extent of the intentions of the invader? A decision to willfully trespass on someone’s property when they are asleep in their home with their family is a mighty loaded decision. A homeowner has no way of knowing what an invader’s “limit” is as far as what they are going to do, and any assumption has to be based on the first known action of the invader. You can not go into someone’s house where their kids are sleeping without knowing that you look like a hyena approaching their cubs.

          • I’ve been meaning to raise another point about this. The word “invasion,” is being overused to the point of making it sound normal. Think about what an “invasion” really is. You’ve got your Genghis Khan, Attila, guys like that. You’ve got hordes of whatever you imagine overwhelming the defenses. That’s “invasion.”

            But for you spin doctors, a simple break-in or any burglary becomes a “home invasion.” Now, Jake is even talking about the “invaders.”

            You guys really give me a good laugh sometimes. And aren’t you glad you’ve got me around here to question these things? Left to your own devices there’s no limit to what you might arrive to.

            • Homie you basically just said almost nothing. Zero substance. “That’s a bad word for the person with unknown intentions coming into your house”. Explanation? What should i call them? And furthermore how can you read all their minds to determine they want to give me surprise hugs or whatever it is you think these people do?

  6. “But part of that right is also inextricably wrapped up with the responsibility to use that level of force responsibly. That’s something that appears to have been lost on one San Antonio homeowner ”

    It isn’t a perfect world and we are not perfect creatures. That said, I personally don’t believe that taking someone’s life over a potted plant, no matter what the value of the plant, is a particularly good idea. Perspective.

  7. Texas was generally poor, sparsely populated, agricultural, and full of violence in its early days (which werent that long ago). A family could slip into abject poverty if its farming tools or seed were stolen. It’s still true today, moderated only by some federal programs. Rich folks say “it’s only stuff, that’s what insurance is for.” Very poor rural folks think, “no insurance, no savings, and the b’d’s just stolen my plow.” Different worlds.

    • Ropingdown, even if the poor folks did have insurance, most have high deductibles ($500.00 or $1000.00), so it would come out of their pockets anyway! So, I also could see why any property would be considered worth protecting.

  8. IF I remember correctly – shooting when someone is stealing your property is ok in Texas only if it is something you cannot [easily] replace. In most cases, I think I can replace my plants. However, we have some plants that were our parents – heirloom plants. If someone were to come on my property and start destroying those I might, and might not, shoot. While I can get another of the same kind of plant, I cannot get another of the plant that had been my mother-in-law’s, or my mother’s, was cared for by them and brings memories of them.

    I’m pretty sure that a lot would depend upon my estimation of the purpose of the vandal.

    I’m not sure I’d show the restraint of Marcus Luttrell – the Navy SEAL who lives in the same county as I do – when vandals shot his dog given him to help him recover from his experiences in Afghanistan. (cf. Lone Survivor) Luttrell just chased them down. They’re due to be sentenced in March. For that I think I’da shot them.

    But I’m not a SEAL.

  9. I wonder if the plants were worth more than we are thinking. Maybe it was some sort of exotic herb that when smoked makes you feel wonderful?

  10. When some one is stealing from your house you have no idea what their limitations are, they have enough courage,stupidity, or drugs to enter your property and take something, it’s not your reponsibility to check what they took, if they are coming back, if they are armed. Seriously, this is not a homeowners responsibility to look out for the crook, he gambled his life for a plant, too bad for him. Play stupid games win stupid prizes

    • +1
      Why are we tolerating criminality? Theft is theft, period. As such, it is a declaration of disregard for the humanity of others. Those who declare such a disregard for others forfeit their own lives.

      • Anthony, I think you must be lost in “The Pillars of the Earth.” People should forfeit their lives for theft? If it’s petty enough I guess only a hand, right?

        • you’re completely missing the point. Self-defense isn’t punitive, nor is it used as retribution.

          What you fail to consider is that when bad people come into your house, they do bad things. Those bad things might be taking your jewelry or they might be kidnapping you and taking you to the bank while your wife and daughters are raped.

          Also, we’re not talking about a guy stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. This isn’t Aladdin either.

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