It Should Have Been a Defensive Gun Use: Family, Housekeeper Murdered in DC

The District of Columbia’s regime of civilian disarmament helped claim more victims last month. Savaas Savopoulous, his wife Amy, his son Phillip, and the family’s housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa were all murdered after being beaten, stabbed, and left for dead inside the Savopoulous’ $4.5 million home, which was subsequently set ablaze, just a short distance from Number One Observatory Circle, the official residence of the U.S. Vice President, Joseph Biden. The Washington Post reports that . . .

the murders allegedly came about as a result of a hostage/ransom plot. Daron Dylon Wint, a former employee of Mr. Savopoulous’ at American Iron Works, was arrested last week for the murder of Savaas. The Post goes on to report that the motive appears to have been ransom: $40,000.00. Strangely low considering the Savopoulous’ apparent wealth.

Philip Savopoulous(R) (photo credit: Jay Howard, via

There’s a slightly more bizarre twist to the story. Fox News interviewed Natalia Guitierrez, another of the Savopoulous’ housekeepers, who was apparently told to stay at home while the hostage drama unfolded. She revealed that the couple apparently had taken some half-hearted security measures:

Guitierrez told the couple had a gun they hid inside a closet in the master bedroom and said they sometimes moved it underneath the bed so “Philip wouldn’t find it.” She also said the family seldom turned on their security system and often left open their garage, where Guitierrez said she believes the killer or killers entered.

“They never really had it on, especially because the house was so close to the vice president,” Guitierrez said of the alarm system.

A gun unloaded and locked away in a closet (as D.C. laws required for so many years,) is almost of no value during an attack at home, as was seen in this situation. I also have no idea what to make of the comment that the alarm system was kept off because “the house was so close to the vice president.”

I’ve seen no indication that Ms. Figueroa, or any members of the Savopoulous family had a firearm or a licence to carry firearms from the District of Columbia — unsurprising given that the ruling striking down the highly restrictive clause of the D.C. code requiring applicants to show “good reason” why they need a license was struck down four days after the murders took place. It would be easy to aver that if only the Savopoulouses had licenses to carry firearms that this would’ve gone down differently. Yes, it might have. Yes, having a gun and knowing how to use it might have saved at least one life in this scenario. Yes, the worst-case scenario if a victim had been able to open fire on the perpetrator(s) here really couldn’t have gotten much worse than what actually played out.

That might, have required a completely different mindset on the part of the victims, unfortunately. The late Col. Jeff Cooper was fond of saying that having a gun and thinking you are armed is like having a piano and thinking you’re a musician; and forty years of repressive laws that violate the letter and spirit of the Bill of Rights can certainly take its toll on a citizenry conditioned to live under them.

A few weeks ago, I asked whether the most important value of the Second Amendment was really in the mindset it encouraged in the citizens. To disarm a population and to get them to accept that disarmament as being in their best interests requires them not just to give up their arms, but also to surrender a piece of their soul. It requires getting rid of the idea that one should take responsibility for one’s own physical security, replacing it instead with the idea that physical security is something that civilian law enforcement, military, or other hirelings should do for you.  The passivity in the face of an upturned fist that D.C.’s repressive regime of firearms laws has encouraged in its citizenry since before I was born, in my mind, makes the whole repressive gun control regime an un-indicted co-conspirator in this brutal murder case. And many others.     [Hat tip: TTAG commentor Bryan Veis]


DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.


  1. avatar Danny Griffin says:

    The criminals used knives so it is okay. (CSGV, Moms Demand, etc.)

    1. avatar Another Robert says:

      Roger that. In fact I expect charges to be dropped against the ex-employee since the putative victim is not really dead at all. The mainstream news outlets will confirm that by not reporting the so-called murders after a few days.

  2. avatar Gordon Wagner says:

    Did you see a photo of the perp? I’d risk the wrath of DC’s gun laws rather than be unarmed at home. Buy a decent set of locks and find yourself a big dog. Stack the deck in your favor. This story was awful.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      “This story was awful.”


      As is every murder story.

  3. avatar the ruester says:

    Not only was there a gun in the house, but it wasn’t used against the family, dissolving another narrative. And since I’ve skinny dipped into wild speculation; if they had showed the kid where it was, and taught him how to use it, his sneaky ass might have… but no, I actually feel shame for thinking like that. I’ll leave the bloody shirts where they are, Shannon and Josh can have them.

    1. avatar Grindstone says:

      A few months ago, a local mother was getting attacked and stabbed by her ex. Her 11yo daughter retrieved the mom’s pistol and shot the ex. Your hypothetical situation isn’t that far-fetched at all.

    2. avatar vv ind says:

      I read in another paper that there was evidence that the boy was being tortured in front of the parents. Not sure if it was true or not. But he’s probably not sneaking away. Also the dad was supposed to be some what of a martial arts expert. There’ll be more facts unfolding eventually I’m sure.

  4. avatar dwb says:

    Probably not, unfortunately: Police are looking at the guy who delivered the $40k for lying multiple times, and the guy arrested also had a connection. This seems to have been an inside job. The family did not even regularly turn their surveillance or alarm system on. But even if they had, this seems to have been perpetrated by people they are likely to have let in anyway.

    No matter how many firearms you have by the bedside table, they are not a substitute for trusting the wrong people.

    1. avatar miforest says:

      but it does help with dealing with those who betray your trust. I think this sounds like more of an issue of complacency. They thought that living in a nice neighborhood is a gaurentee of safety. didn’t work out that way for the pettits either.

    2. avatar TT says:

      Bingo! This was no home invasion. Torturing and then murdering four people, including a child and an unrelated housekeeper, coupled with a delivery of $40,000 cash while it was going on, sounds like organized crime score-settling to me.

  5. avatar Joe R. says:

    I still blame gun owners. If people didn’t have guns, or if there were no guns there’s no way the perpetrators would have been able to get the knives, and the cops would have been at the scene instantaneously, and China (and our other enemies) wouldn’t be as close as they are to invasion, and ISIS would be fully in-check (“degradaded”), and our President would love his country and be from here.

    1. avatar dwb says:

      Also, we would all have cute little puppies and a chicken in every pot.

      1. avatar Ing says:

        I prefer to think we would all have cute little pet chickens and a puppy in every pot.

        1. avatar Hoplopfheil says:

          Chinese infiltrator!

          (that was in poor taste, but I had to)

  6. avatar Danny Griffin says: — I can’t get any crime data, even for Detroit!

  7. avatar Out_Fang_Thief says:

    As angry as I am over the tragic, senseless murders, I’m equally angry at the husbands shocking inability to provide, what we are now learning, the bare minimum of security to protect his home family. What sort of man entrusts the responsibility of protecting and defending his castle, to unknown others? Did he believe the Leftist, anti-gun agitators who shout and protest that we’re all safer without guns?

    1. avatar Danny Griffin says:

      Did he believe the Leftist, anti-gun agitators who shout and protest that we’re all safer without guns?

      Maybe he was a Leftist himself.

  8. avatar Richard says:

    “To disarm a population and to get them to accept that disarmament as being in their best interests requires them not just to give up their arms, but also to surrender a piece of their soul. It requires getting rid of the idea that one should take responsibility for one’s own physical security, replacing it instead with the idea that physical security is something that civilian law enforcement, military, or other hirelings should do for you.”
    The victim families of Sandy Hook allege the manufacturer, distributor, and point of sale store are culpable for the sale of a wholesale dangerous weapon and should be held accountable. Why not then the government of Washington D.C.? If the policies of civilian disarmament not only inhibit (if not outright prevent) an effective defense then they too should be held accountable. Standing would be the issue at hand. A relative of a victim would have to be willing to work with, say the SAF, to bring the suit. But I think it would have far better chances of success than suing gun manufacturers.

  9. avatar Roscoe says:

    This “mindset” creating an absence of S/A and dependence on the “authorities” to keep oneself and loved ones safe because of the false sense of security it encourages is not often delved into and should be amplified more often.

    This case is a perfect example, but there are many, many more.

    Anyone you know in the bad habit of leaving a back or side door to the garage open, or a similar door to the basement where basements are prevalent? That’s a clear demonstration of a false sense of security.

    The good ol’ misleading ‘I FEEL safe’ mentality has nothing at all to do with preventing the oft randomness of predatory reality. You’ll almost NEVER know in advance when you’re going to be targeted. All you can do is reduce the odds. FEELING safe doesn’t cut it.

    1. avatar Roscoe says:

      Furthermore, this article addresses the crux the antis’ deceptive rhetoric.

      That is of the MINDSET the antis would have Americans embrace, that law abiding citizens should get “rid of the idea that one should take responsibility for one’s own physical security, replacing it instead with the idea that physical security is something that civilian law enforcement, military, or other hirelings should do for you.”

      That false logic should be exposed at every opportunity!

  10. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    Ron Paul is right: we are in an era of neo-fascism. In order to inculcate a pervasive sense of collective helplessness, the state needs a steady supply of victims. Gun-free zones, restrictive gun-control laws, anti-gun agitprop are simply practical examples of the state doing it job to create more situations where victimization is possible.

  11. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Yep it shoulda’ been…sometimes rich folks with servants are way too arrogant for their own good…

  12. avatar Jack Clancy says:

    When the BIG brown Bullmastiff says “no” he means it. We have never been burglarized with dogs. I carry, ALLWAYS! Sleep with guns. With that kind of wealth how could you not be a target. This story is as bad as the doctor from Connecticut and his family.

    When I ride my Harley I assume no one sees me and everyone wants to hit me. I carry a gun on me always. I assume everyone wants to do me harm. And I’m not wealthy. With all these home invasions a dog and a gun seem like basic home security. I trust the dog more than an alarm.

    With these j frame air weights what’s the excuse for not having on in your pocket. I’m in love with my S&W M&P 340 (No internal lock). I carry the Gold Dot 38 special + P 135 grain for the short barrel. Always at least a reload on me.

  13. avatar Aaron says:

    Savo wasn’t much of a martial artist, was he.

    Never, ever let yourself be tied up by BGs. Better to go down taking a stand than to let yourself become helpless.

    1. avatar JWM says:

      Martial arts training is the same as the operator operating operationally training being foisted off on the gullible public. No matter what the instructors did in a past life they are now business men. BUSINESS. They cannot afford to injure or piss of their clients. Or their lawyers and insurance people.

      So yeah, the aerobic dance class being foisted off as martial arts has little real value against street level experience and even crude weapons like blunt objects, etc.

      And anybody that can afford to live near shotgun joe is likely to not have ever been in any “street” arts training.

      1. avatar Jack Clancy says:

        Really change’s your prescriptive after a good butt whipping.

  14. avatar Jus Bill says:

    DC is filled to the brim with professional victims. UNARMED professional victims. By design.

    Even under the current “Maybe Will Kinda Issue” law the victims lived too close to the VP’s mansion to be permitted to possess a gun in their home.

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