Charles Sharp, 49, called 911 to report “intruders” on his property in Mantua Township, New Jersey back on September 14th. Despite his last name, he did just about everything wrong before and during his 911 call. His life ended as he traipsed towards police, in the dark, carrying a replica .45 pistol in his hand.
Sharp told dispatchers that he saw two men (and later a “girl”) prowling around in his back yard, one of which, he said, had a gun. What did Mr. Sharp do then? He told the dispatcher, and I quote, “I lit a quarter-stick to scare them away but they came back…”
Mr. Sharp described the suspects as a mid-60s white male with thinning hair, and a black guy and a “girl” behind the fence. They were allegedly messing with his shed. When he went to go out to confront them (after tossing that quarter stick to scare them away) he supposedly saw one of them trying to get into his truck in front of his house.
Wait. It gets better. A lot better.
As the police responded, he said that he believed he saw one of the prowlers in his truck. As the dispatcher communicates with the officers, Sharp says…
“I have something my grandfather passed down to me. I don’t know how legal it is… in a will…”
Later he elaborated, “My grandfather willed me a .45. I don’t know what I’m allowed to do with that. So I threw a couple of quarter sticks out. Maybe that’s not the professional thing to do, but…”
Incredibly, Mr. Sharp failed to tell dispatchers that he had exited the house. And that he was carrying the .45 pistol as the first officers rolled to a stop outside his house. You can hear the officers ordering him to put the gun down, but Sharp…didn’t.
Then they shot him. Mr. Sharp died of his injuries. The bodycam video begins at 4:52 in this video.
In a case like this, we can all learn some important lessons.
First off, if you detect prowlers on your property, call police right away. Try to stay concealed and observe and report. Do not leave your home until either responding police officers or the dispatcher tells you to, for your own safety. If you’re armed as police arrive, make sure your gun is holstered and well-concealed. And keep your hands clearly visible. What’s more, you will likely not realize police have arrived until they want you to know.
Tossing out a couple of “quarter-stick” explosives to “scare away” trespassers? That’s shows a severe cranial activity deficiency. But taking a replica handgun outside to confront potentially armed perps? That’s nuclear weapons-grade stupidity. Especially with the police responding to your “man with a gun” call.
Even if Mr. Sharp had armed himself with a real gun, that would have been very foolish. Was he going to shoot (or threaten to shoot) someone for stealing his 40-year-old Craftsman lawnmower? Or maybe escalate a confrontation over yard tools into a gun battle? Again, for what? A crappy mower and a rusty rake?
Not only that, but going out to confront thieves could result in an exchange of gunfire. Again, for what? Some junk in a shed?
Lastly, if you’re ever on the phone with a 911 dispatcher and police are coming, give them your description. Let the dispatcher know what you are doing and your location. If the dispatcher advises you do something, like, oh, to put down your gun before approaching the officers, you’d be wise to follow those recommendations.
What could possibly go wrong with not using common sense in a burglary call? Mr. Sharp found out.
For those looking to hear the family’s response, CBS3 in Philly has additional information in a story.