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The vast majority of the defensive gun uses that occur every day in this country save innocent victims from people who would do them harm. And while there are certainly exceptions, police and prosecutors, by and large, tend to give defenders the benefit of the doubt, either based on the circumstances, common sense or because they’re bound by local laws (see: stand your ground and castle doctrine).

And while we like nothing better than to trumpet DGUs here, we tend to dispense one consistent bit of advice to anyone who’s put in the uncomfortable position of having to defend himself with a firearm: STFU. Don’t say anything to anyone until your lawyer gets there. Given the circumstances surrounding a Thanksgiving DGU outside a small central Minnesota town, all the yakking the shooter’s done after the fact probably couldn’t have made the situation much worse. But it sure hasn’t helped.

Byron Smith was in his basement Thursday when he heard a window break and then footsteps on the floor above him. Smith told police that he’d had a number of break-ins and was worried that his uninvited Thanksgiving Day guests were armed. So he grabbed his Mini 14 and waited until Nicholas Brady came down the stairs.

Smith said he fired when Brady came into view from the waist down.

After the teen fell down the stairs, Smith said he shot him in the face as he lay on the floor.

“I want him dead,” the complaint quoted Smith telling an investigator.

Smith said he dragged Brady’s body into his basement workshop, then sat down on his chair.

Brady’s partner in crime was his cousin, Haile Kifer. Haile was either hard of hearing or none too bright because after the shots fired at Brady, she came down the basement stairs, too.

(Smith) shot her as soon as her hips appeared, he said.

Though Kifer was “already hurting,” she let out a short laugh, Smith told investigators. He then pulled out his .22-caliber revolver and shot her several times in the chest, according to the complaint.

After shooting her with both the Mini 14 and the .22-caliber revolver, he dragged her next to Brady. With her still gasping for air, he fired a shot under her chin “up into the cranium,” the complaint says.

“Smith described it as ‘a good clean finishing shot,'” according to the complaint.

But even after all that, Byron didn’t bother to call the police until the next day. That’s when he asked a neighbor to recommend a good lawyer and call the cops for him. When asked why he delayed, he told police “he didn’t want to trouble (them) on a holiday.”

Smith’s now facing two charges of second degree murder. While he undoubtedly had cause to fear the burglars who’d broken into his home, could he have done anything to make what happened any worse?

Probably, but you’ll have to give us some time to come up with exactly how. No, the hash he made of the whole thing is pretty much an object lesson in what not to do both during and after a defensive gun use.

As Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said, “The law doesn’t permit you to execute somebody once a threat is gone.” Truer words….    [h/t Patrick C.]

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    • That my friend is the under statement of the century!!!!

      Wow are you sure his name wasn’t John Wayne Gasy???

    • This happened not too far from where I live. The local sources say Smith was involved in Boy Scouts, and I can’t find any criminal history for the youths.

      Something about it doesn’t add up yet, to me. I’m going to reserve judgement on the alleged ‘burglars’ until more information is available.

      • Yeah, there’s a good chance the true story is even worse than what is reported here. Were they kidnapped and then he cooked up the story?

      • Good point. Who’s to say they broke in at all? After all, they’re not alive to testify that maybe this psycho forced them inside and murdered them in cold blood.

        • According to what was in te newspaper early this morning his home had been broken into more than once and he was tired of it!!!
          Still does not come close to accounting for the sick f¥€%ing manner in which he handled the situation. Murder One x2 counts should fit perfectly!!
          Heck with a mug like that why didn’t he just look up at them and smile!! Would have made me run away very quickly and I ain’t even close to good looking!!!

        • Only murder one if he lured them there to kill them.

          Apparently the girl had a prescription pill problem, so her friends were not shocked that she broke into a house.

      • That’s a damn good point considering that the girl came downstairs after the shots were fired. She’d have to be deaf not to have heard it.

        Not to mention, claiming an injured girl still laughed at you after you shot her, then using the terminology ‘a good clean finishing shot’ in regards to shooting a teenage girl in the head is just too creepy.

        We’ll have to wait and see what else rolls in on this story.

  1. While the shooting (part of it anyway) may have been legit;
    the antis will make this guy a poster child as an insane gun
    owner. If the everything the guy said is true, I don’t think
    I’d argue with that title. His actions are going to get him
    a lengthy prison term. I think waiting a day to call police
    is what’s really going to deep 6 him.

    His comments maybe completely out of context and he was
    in more danger than it seems. Or he could just be a bit of
    a nutjob. Either way, the details will be an interesting read
    when they are made public.

    • Actually, the media is NOT making a big deal of this idiot – because he does not “fit the narrative”.

      From an AP ( story on 4/29: “Before retiring from the U.S. State Department, Smith worked on technical security issues for American embassies, such as building layout and alarms.”

      Hey, the guy was a State Dept. employee – a good gummint employee who worked in the SD when it was run by Hilary Clinton. That fact is already edited out of most news reports on this murderer, and I am sure his story will soon disappear.

  2. Sorry, I just can’t defend this guy. In any way shape or form. This is the kind of wakko that gives the grabbers all the ammunition they want. I just can’t imagine what he was thinking, its as if he was hoping to have an opportunity to murder someone. His actions and idiotic statements afterwards make me wonder if he was even feeling threatened or in danger at all. I can only hope he is properly prosecuted. Its not often I feel bad for the kids that broke in.

  3. We shoot b/c it’s the only way to prevent a heinous crime at that time. We shoot to stop, not kill. As Ayoob says,”If we were authorized to shoot to kill,we could(as this bloodthirsty,vengeful idiot did) shoot the wounded!”

    What’s scary is that when you read comments on non-gun enthusiast sites, you find that this Bozo has many like-minded ignoramii in his tribe.
    One of the many reasons I’m a fan of TTAG is the readers/commentors are a thoughtful, law-abiding, ethical bunch-unlike the murderer in this story.

  4. This should not be a DGU of the day. It should be an IGOTD.

    This man murdered these kids, plain and simple. The first shots? No problem. If they died from the initial shots or falling down the stairs, this would be a DGU. Dragging the body into a workshop and executing a girl who poses no threat to you? MURDER.

    Let alone the fact that he shot the girl, who was incapacitated, with a 22 revolver that he had to leave to go get, showing she posed NO threat to him.

    This man is sick, and gives a bad name to all gun owners.

      • Kinda seems like a gross understatement.

        Fact is, some very small % of the legal gun owning community will innevitably be murderous scumbags. But as long as that % is the same or less than the % of murderous scumbags in the general population (and it’s way less), it’s still not an argument for tighter gun laws.

  5. Egads!

    Sounds like the shooter is a loon. Still it does lend truth to the classic advice: “Don’t be a crook, you’ll come to a bad end.”

  6. What the fk? Sounds less like DGU than an execution.

    We need no association with this criminal. Because that’s what he is.

  7. Even if the guy did STFU and wait for his lawyer, his lawyer would have a hard time explaining away the autopsy and crime scene reports to a jury when it comes back that he fired at close range while they were on the floor and that he shot one under the chin and straight up.

  8. The guy appears to be a world class asshole but breaking into someone’s home can result in you leaving in the horizontal position. Nobody is a winner here and two people did not have to die but again you run that risk breaking into other people’s homes.

  9. I’d go as far to say that , at least in the case of the girl, he committed 1st degree murder being that he had to leave the room to get a second weapon to shoot the girl after the threat was gone. To me that implies a premeditated intent to kill.

  10. These kids were complete and utter idiots doing something incredibly stupid. After he shot the boy and he came tumbling down the stairs that should’ve been the end of it. Everything that happened past that is downright criminal and sick.

  11. If I read that right, he shot the first teen seeing only his legs on the stairs. How did he know if the invader was armed or not, and is immediate deadly force always appropriate if you are confronted with a potentially unarmed home invader in that scenario? A baseball bat or shovel might have been a more defensible tool than a Mini 14 (a least from the POV of explaining your actions to a LEO). He sounds unbalanced enough to have wanted to do this right from the git-go, and I am in no way excusing two teenagers who broke into a house.

    • You don’t know if they’re unarmed or not most of the time. But if they’re down and defenseless after you’ve stopped the threat, call the cops and the EMTs.

    • In castle doctrine parts of the country, the mere presence of an intruder in your home is enough to justify deadly force. You are presumed by law to be in reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm in such circumstance, which is just as it should be. You don’t need to see a weapon and they don’t need to be armed.

      If they’re in your dwelling, deadly force is authorized. Whether you use it or not is up to your discretion. But once the threat is down, “finishing shots” are not defensive (or legally defensible).

    • Obviously, circumstances differ. If someone is chasing you through the house and charging down the stairs, then shooting them in the legs makes sense. But if they’re just coming down the stairs, and don’t even know you’re in the room, they can’t see you? At the point there isn’t necessarily a threat.

      Are strangers in your house? Yes. But intent isn’t clear yet. I mean, I’m not sure if you have a valid shoot scenario if you’re locked in your bedroom while hoodlums are gutting your living room of fine electronics. This is a property crime until they head for your bedroom. Most of the time, if the intruder discovers inhabitants, they either flee or attack, and the shoot/no shoot decision point clarifies quickly. But if they ignore you?

      “Get out of my house!” “Yea, just getting the TV and we’ll be on our way.” I dunno. At least, outside of Texas.

      But lying in wait, unannounced? No warning? I know of Castle Doctrines, and Threshold limits, but I don’t think they necessarily justify lying is wait, quietly, without special circumstances. There should be some effort to let the intruder know what’s waiting for them should they open that door. Most home invasions are not assassinations in progress. Most of the time there’s little reason to lay quietly and hope they’ll pass you by. Especially if you’re as prepared as this guy apparently was.

      Unarmed, alone, whispering in to the 911 phone call, that’s different. If they’re fast moving, that’s different. But those are also different than a quiet prowler in a quiet house.

      Castle doctrines may allows the occupant to stand their ground, but I don’t know if they have a requirement to give the intruder an informed chance to walk away.

      • There is no moral obligation to announce yourself to an intruder in your home. Additionally, it would negate your tactical advantage. Anyone who forcibly enters another’s property without permission I would assume expects resistance and I would therefore consider them lethally threatening.

      • “Obviously, circumstances differ. If someone is chasing you through the house and charging down the stairs, then shooting them in the legs makes sense. But if they’re just coming down the stairs, and don’t even know you’re in the room, they can’t see you? At the point there isn’t necessarily a threat.”

        Circumstances do not differ. Under castle doctrine, if someone has intruded into your home then they are a threat. You are in the right to use any force necessary to stop that threat.

        • As a lawyer, I can assure you that your understanding of the castle doctrine is wrong. Just because someone is in your house without invite does not make them a threat. Thinking otherwise could land you a very long prison term.

          Consider this not-so-hypothetical hypothetical: Police officer lives in a neighborhood where all the houses look pretty much the same in terms of shape, layout, etc (though paint color varies from house to house). Police officer drives home piss ass drunk after spending a few hours after work in a bar. Policeman is so drunk that he mistakes his neighbor’s house for his own, and enters home (which is unlocked). Neighbor – who was asleep – wakes up and is scared out of his mind when he hears an “intruder” in his house. Neighbor confronts intruder with a gun – in low light situation. Drunk officer – who thinks he is in his own house, considers the neighbor to be an intruder. Officer attempts to pull out his service revolver to defend himself, but is too drunk to deploy pistol out of his holster. At some point, neighbor realizes that the “intruder” is really his next door neighbor, and calls out to the police officer by his name. Drunk officer suddenly has an epiphany, realizes what is going on, and stands down. All ends well. Police officer checks into rehab clinic the next day.

          Now, to protect the guilty, I’m not going to say anything more about the “who-what-where-when” of this… um… “hypothetical.” But let’s assume that the neighbor had actually had shot and killed the police officer. How far do you think the “castle doctrine” would have gotten him?

        • I’ll tell you Joe Grine, I wouldn’t hire you for a lawyer.

          Here’s the law where I live. Shooting the intruder in the scenario you described would be justified, but unfortunate.

          12.1-05-07.1. Use of deadly force – Presumption of fear of death or serious bodily

          1. An individual is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or
          serious bodily injury to that individual or another when using deadly force if:

          a. The individual against whom the deadly force was used was in the process of
          unlawfully and forcibly entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered and
          remains within a dwelling, place of work, or occupied motor home or travel trailer
          as defined in section 39-01-01, or if the individual had removed or was attempting
          to remove another against that individual’s will from the dwelling, place of work, or
          occupied motor home or travel trailer

        • I must agree with AK here. Drunk guy in house – middle of the night – uninvited – trying to deploy his weapon! I can’t think of a much more severe circumstance that would justify the homeowner believing his life was at risk.

        • Joe, the Castle Doctrine would apply in your hypothetical. Unfortunate if it had to be applied, but unauthorized entry in the middle of the night, with or without a gun…I would bet on the homeowner.

          AK, there is a limit to the force that can be applied. You have to fear for the safety of yourself or others. Someone on the floor from a rifle wound to the pelvis is arguably still a threat. Emptying a 9-shot .22 into their chest while supine…if they’re still armed, yes, maybe.

          Shooting them in the head after that? Never, ever justified. You don’t get to reenact the Saw movies just because someone breaks into your house.

        • The scenario that Grine makes is an almost exact scenario that the officer that did my concealed class made. Though in our example the drunk nieghbor was not a cop and was not trying to pull a gun.

          At least in our drunk nieghbor scenario we don’t have an armed drunk, but I believe with the castle doctrine we are justified in standing our ground (i’m in Florida). In this cop scenario I have a drunk guy, in the dark, attempting to pull a gun, why wouldn’t I be allowed to shoot?

        • Darren, agreed. That’s why I said “any force necessary to stop that threat.”

          Once the threat is gone, the justification for deadly force is gone.

  12. I just have to join-in and say this guy is a “monster with a gun”. I cannot even imagine what was going through his head. His quoted statements make him sound totally “matter-of-fact” about the killings, which makes his actions all the more chilling and creepy.
    While those two youngsters had no damned business breaking into his house, they did not deserve to be coldly murdered for it.

  13. It sounds like 2nd degree murder is the appropriate charge. Waiting to until the next day to report the shooting is exceedingly suspicious. Shoot to stop the threat, not to execute. The most creative lawyers are going to have a hand time with the under the chin “self defense” shot.

  14. “F” what he said! If he was a mute he should get no less than 2 life terms for this. The NRA should get involved in pressing for this loon’s prosecution to the fullest. We need to let our voices be heard when such thing are done. We have to make clear that we view such incidents as crimes not DGU. Oh and along with everything else Mr. Smith is a sadistic Pr!ck, and I’m not buying the break in story either.

  15. Its a mix he should get a Darwin award from us gun owners doing exactly what idiots on the news say. he exicuted a piece of tash but that what anti-gunners think all of us do.

    On the other side the criminal deserved it. So lock him up and give him a $50 dollar reward or a 1000 cigarets to trade in jail. He did rid society of that trash?????

    • As a retired LEO, current security supervisor, licensed concealed carrier, firearms instructor, and human being, I think that you’re a real piece of work. NObody, and certainly not a rational armed citizen, ‘executes a piece of trash,’ without going beyond the pale of civilized behaviour. We use lethal force to stop a lethal threat, not to ensure the death of another human being. We accept that death may result, but it’s never the desired ending. Anyone that kills a helpless adversary posing no imminent deadly threat is a murderer.

  16. Murder 1 for the girl, murder 2 for the boy and the receiving end of copious prison rape for a long, long time for the sheer sickness of what he did.

  17. And before you say it mikeyb, this man was never one of us. Only in your twisted mind are we all just 1 moment away from committing these acts.

    As I’ve said it many times before here, you only fire when there’s no other option. I don’t care if you live in Ca. or Texas or Florida. What seperates us from the badguys like Mr. smith is that we don’t look forward to killing. We will do what’s needed to protect us and ours but we will maintain our humanity at all times.

    This man did murder. The fact that he waited till the next day was probably due to the fact that he was trying to come up with a way to dispose of the bodies so no one would know it was his crime. Failing that he tried some sorry self defense claim.

  18. I freely admit that this disgusting crime has truly shaken me; The degree of callousness, coldness, brutality and senselessness shown by this human beast shocks to the core.
    Early in the article, there was an advisement to ‘STFU until your lawyer gets there.’ I give this advice to my students more than once in class. However, if one of my students did something like this, I’d pray that he was as stupid about blurting out his heinous acts to the police as he was stupid and cruel enough to commit them.
    There’s another thing that I tell my students: Once the last shot is fired, and your adversary is down and no longer a threat, call 911! Do CPR! Do what you can to stop the bleeding, anything it takes. Why? First, it’s the right thing to DO. Second, juries will remember.
    This monster’s jury will remember what he did, and didn’t do, too.
    It’s small comfort, but it’ll have to do.

  19. Murder?

    They knew the risks and took them anyway. Too bad but stupid people die quick under the wrong circumstances.

    Sounds to me like he did a pretty good job. Who knows how many future lives he saved by taking these two out. Not a tear for them and I’m surprised at some of the responses here. The way in which the left wins is that their lawyers succeed in defining normal defensive actions as criminal, normal every day activities as anti-social and criminal and then the media pushes to make every American believe it.

    Makes me want to invest in Huggies but since we re-elected the Marxist in chief (the election was stolen) that wouldn’t be prudent.

    I wonder if this guy was a combat vet. Kinda sounds like some of the people I’ve known over the years and yes they are a cold bunch because that’s how you stay alive.

    • Let me see if I can put this so you can see my viewpoint, and that of those who apparently agree with me and not you.
      During my time as a police officer, I had the occasion to shoot but not instantly kill, at very close range, two adversaries who fired on me. Each had tried to kill me or my partner at my elbow, and failed. I did not ‘execute the trash,’ but instead then summoned medical help and did what I could to keep them alive for TRIAL.
      I must repeat: You may use a firearm to stop a valid or reasonably-believed lethal threat. When the threat ends, you don’t get to dispatch your wounded adversary like a run-over dog. If you do, it’s no longer self-defense, but murder.
      If you can’t see that, you have no business owning a firearm. You’re just not morally or ethically fitted to wield that kind of power.
      Your reference to ‘combat vets’ is striking. Perhaps you’re not familiar with the term ‘war criminal’? Many a soldier has been prosecuted, and convicted, for killing a defenseless wounded foe. That’s not how you ‘stay alive.’ That’s how you become a criminal.
      Finally, politics has no place in this. It’s a moral compass question; Yours is pointing in the wrong direction.

  20. Go to fox 9 facebook page scroll down to nick and haile memorial fund and help defend these two! Their are bad people out there and they trash talk these kids and there familys so please they need supporters like you badly

  21. I will shed some ligh on this because I am part of the family of the boy he was my nephew.. He was wrong in his actions to be in somones home to do whatever it was. so i AM IN NO WAY DEFENDING MY NEPHEWS WRONG. however byron smith did know nick Brady..Nick Cleaned byrons yard for him and they knew eachother.. besides the point..on to byron he had camaras up and audio up all the time so him being robed that many times impossible. he parked his car at a friends house on thanksgiving day so it would look like he was not home. he saw the kids outside for 7 mn he could have picked up the phone and called instead he layed out a tarp at the end of the stairs he unscrewed the light bulbs above the stairs exsept one so he could see were to shoot he hid on a chair in between two book shelfs and waited for them to brake in. he had a loaded riffle and a gun straped to him. nick came to the stairs and he fired the gun and it took him 18 seconds to drag his body down the steps knowing they were not armed according to the video..Hailey was outside waiting for nick now being young and you hear something your going to check on it right just because it is human nature that is what she did.. she waited a long time I believe adio tape said another ten fifteen min after he shot nick.. he knew she was not armed. she was on tape calling nicks name out no answer so what would anyone do you would look around. she got to the top pf the step and he fierd.. he shot her she fell saying omg as he shot her his gun jamed he said oh, sorry about that and shot her again then drug her down the steps keep in mind she was gasping for Air he layed her by nick and cused at her then he heard her saw aww in pain and decided to finish her off. byron smith has also been known to shoot peoples pets he hates dogs! the people around his home said he fires his gun all the time and some of them are scared of him. I believe in defending your home because you never know however if you have security and you clearly see the people out there call the cops he let them brake in to justifie what he was planning to do. guns dont kill people do.. and Hailey was not on drugs she had a issue one time like we all have and we all have tryed things and her parents stoped it befor it got worse she may not have been perfect but no one is same gos for nick Believe me I was not at that age were you? thats the thing alot of people feel sorry for him but alot of people don’t know he let them enter his home… the kids should be in jail not six feet under..and byron should be in jail not running around

  22. Good riddance. No sympathy for scumbag ju nkies who invade elderly peoples homes. They knew the risk and they rolled the dice. And if your kid is invading someone’s home on Thanksgiving……YOU failed as a parent.

  23. To Raven…. Your dead friend had NOT fixed her drug problem as she had stolen drugs in her car when she was killed. These people were brazen in there quest to damage peoples lives and thanks to Mr. Smith they have robbed their last home. Also…he did not let them in, they broke a window.. stop coddling these dead scumbags. 1 plus 1 equals 2, next?

  24. Ok, Raven, you`re trying to say that his security system proves that he was not frequently robbed. That`s stupid. He go the security system BECAUSE he was frequently robbed. And did he have a monitor hooked up to those cameras so he could view it in real time, or was it just recording? I won`t say that Smith is a hero, or even did the right thing. He definitely has a screw loose. He definitely should have ridden the cops harder to help him, but the fact is that stolen property is rarely recovered, even when the burglar is cought. And a lot of his missing stuff had value far beyond the monetary.

    Put under the same pressure that he was, I can see myself making the same decision that Smith did. He had been living in fear for months, being terrorized by these “Kids.” That`s another thing. Everyone keeps calling these criminals “Kids,” showing their smiling yearbook pictures, even pictures from when they were toddlers. One of these “Kids” was 18, legally old enough to smoke, pay taxes, or join the military. The other one was still a minor, but was a wrestler and weight-lifter, a noted athlete, a potentially physically dangerous individual.

    The real red flag against Smith are his follow-on shots to finish the burglars off. The prosecution`s argument that the finishing shots crossed the line into murder because at that point the burglars were no longer a threat is a valid one, but there is another perspective….

    I know Smith spent time in the Air Force. I don`t know what his firearms training from the military was like, but MY training (from the Marine Corps) taught me that the threat is eliminated when you see “Spine or brains.” In those words. I was taught the “Dead Check” of a fallen enemy, which is either a thumb in the eye, or a “Just-to-be-safe” head-shot. I would probably deliver those follow-on shots out of ingrained habit.

    The matter of when the attackers are no longer a threat is very ambiguous. There is only one time that you know for sure your attackers are no longer a threat; When they are dead. This especially holds true if, as you say, the home-owner knew the attacker. Smith is a 65 year old man. He can`t afford to take chances with a strong, athletic young man like Brady.

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