Courtesy CNBC and Alexander Reben
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Courtesy CNBC and Alexander Reben

Van Buren, Maine is a small town in the extreme northeast corner of the state, hard against the St. John River which forms the US-Canada border in that part of the continent. Van Buren is — was — the home of Ronald Cyr who was concerned enough about the security of his residence that he rigged it with a variety of home-made “security devices.”

One of those contraptions involved a handgun that was set to fire if anyone opened the front door (not pictured above). Perhaps forgetting about the booby trap, Cyr himself opened that door Thursday night.

The door device worked exactly as designed and shot Cyr when he opened it. According to WAGM TV after the 65-year-old Cyr dialed 911 . . .

Officer Chandler Madore and the Van Buren Ambulance Service arrived on scene, assisted by the US Border Patrol, and provided emergency medical assistance…

Unfortunately, Cyr later died at a local hospital.

The place was equipped with enough additional traps that the local PD called in the state bomb squad the make the place safe.

According to the BBC, booby trapping your home is a bad idea for all kinds of reasons.

It is illegal to set up devices in your home to protect it from intruders, if those devices can cause harm.

The legal argument is that life is more valued than property and that the devices have no means of preventing accidental harm or distinguishing between targets.

Even if the trap targets a criminal, the trap-setter, though having the right to protect their home, has no right to determine the punishment.

Injury can lead to lawsuits. In the 1971 case of Katko v. Briney, in Iowa, two homeowners were held liable for injuries caused by their spring-loaded shotgun to a trespasser intent on stealing from a vacant property.

The court ruled the deadly force was not reasonable and awarded the plaintiff $30,000 (£23,000) in damages.

We’ve seen this movie before. Last year Edwin Smith, a North Carolina man, much like Mr. Cyr in Maine, was shot when he opened his own booby trapped door. That one was rigged with a shotgun.

Unlike Cyr, Mr. Smith survived his mistake.

Don’t try this at home, kids.

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  1. Well, I would have never believe it, but stupid contary to my thinking can be fixed. Mr. Cyr did a banged-up job of it.

  2. Oops!
    Reminds me of the guy who stole his neighbors toolbox that was rigged to kill the (same) neighbor’s wife. The thief took it to his own house, opened it, died. He might have been a candidate for the Darwin Award that year.

    • I’m not sure he’s Darwin Award eligible. The idea of that award is to celebrate idiots who preempt their ability to spread stupidiy through the gene pool by suffering fatally by their own stupid hand. At age 65, this guy has most likely already done his damage and isn’t likely to do more.

  3. Geez man, I live in Maine precisely because I love the low population density & cheap land. I’m pretty sure there are very, very few people in Van Buren. Why anyone would need to set a booby trap is beyond me.

    • Tim,

      Maybe the deceased heard voices in his head? Schizophrenia is a thing.

      (Disclaimer: I am not claiming that the deceased heard voices in his head nor had schizophrenia. I am simply explaining the possibility.)

    • I’m also a Mainer. The only reason I can think of that he might need a deadly booby trap would be if he was in the business of drugs. But we would have heard about that by now.

    • I can see 3 reasons to booby-trap the property.

      1) He’s paranoid, maybe Parkinson’s or some other thing older people get.
      2) Is meth a problem up there? Maybe he was protecting his property from meth heads.
      3) Canadians illegally crossing the border to steal maple syrup?

      I lean towards #1. Lots of crazy people live in out of the way places.

  4. “Unfortunately, Cyr later died at a local hospital.”

    I’m missing the part where anything “unfortunate” happened in this story.

    I mean unless maybe he has kids. If he reproduced then that was unfortunate.

    • Here’s another unfortunate accidental discharge:

      “A 19-year-old Indiana woman — described by her pastor as a “bubbly young lady who had a bright future” — was fatally shot when a 22-year-old friend riding in the backseat of her car accidentally discharged an AR-15 style assault rifle, according to police.

      Annalysa McMillan, who graduated from high school in June, was killed just five days after she celebrated her birthday.”

      • Over the thanksgiving holiday my daughter lost a young female co worker to a single car roll over accident. Cars are deadly. We should ban them. For the kids.

      • This wasn’t an accidental discharge. It was a guy, to get all literary about it, being “hoist with his own petard”.

        Hamlet couldn’t have planned this guy’s demise better.

  5. Truly an accident or a Golgo 13 style suicide for people who cannot afford an international hitman?

  6. These paranoiacs are somehow much better at imagining intruders than picturing the hapless firefighters or other first-responders breaking in to suppress a fire.

  7. In another article they linked a story of a similar incident, where a guy rigged a round hot tub to roll down a flight of stairs, Raiders of the lost ark style. I at least give that one some props for being creative.

  8. You would think this kind of booby trap would be legal if it was clearly signed so the thief had a choice and couldn’t claim ignorance of the device. However, knowing our courts and judges, I doubt it. In this case he would have seen his own sign if he had posted one. His memory problems (if he had them) won’t get any worse.

    • I agree with the no booby trap laws. I have experienced a person with altzheimers walking into a residence he wasn’t supposed to be at. A booby trap would have killed him without thought or question.

      I’m uncomfortable with removing the human from the ‘shoot/don’t shoot’ equation.

    • Think about your comment.

      Really? We have to notify thieves about deadly consequences. They obviously know that breaking into people’s houses. It goes with the territory.

      If I were on a jury, I would never convict anyone of killing a thief with such a device. One less crook in the world is a good thing. It’s not for everyone, but whose house is it?

      • Excellent idea, no need for the pesky judge or jury, no need for evidence collection or forensic examination.

        And if the occasional confused elderly individual or young child or Dazed accident victim comes looking for help and gets blown away, it’s survival of the fittest, right?


        • You really are easily fascinated, miner. Is there anything you disagree with that does not fascinate you?

      • The reason for making such traps illegal is not only for the thief but for others. What happens when you have pass out, a neighbor sees you through a window and calls 911? The fire department comes and has to kick down your door and one of them gets a bullet in the chest in response?

  9. I would never do this. I can never even remember where I put down my car keys. I’d definitely forget about the booby trap.

  10. Well this one worked out perfectly and in a very fortunate way. He demonstrated that he was too stupid to live and in the process alerted the public to the dangerous stupid gadgets he left about his place that could have harmed some unsuspecting normal person.

    So, it’s all good.

  11. To all you veterans, when you leave the service, bring a few ‘bouncing betty’s’ with you to keep the dogs off your lawn

  12. From the story ” It is illegal to set up devices in your home to protect it from intruders, if those devices can cause harm ” . Guess I am going to have to take the gators back to the swamp and back fill the mote……

      • “…pet, with benefits.”

        Whoa buddy, let’s not give people any ideas here.

        Seriously, these people are already weird enough.

        • Yes. I realized I could have phrased that a little better after I posted it. I figured either you or Geoff would be all over it.

          I even had an Archer moment, ‘phrasing’, but it was too late by then.

        • Yeah, but Geoff isn’t going to leave you an *awesome* furry video now is he?

          He’s all educated, cultured, polite with like, morals and stuff. With me you’re lucky I didn’t drop some links to necrofur art. (In reality I wouldn’t do that. I’d probably get banned and, free speech be damned, I’d deserve it. That shit is twisted.)

        • “Yeah, but Geoff isn’t going to leave you an *awesome* furry video now is he?

          He’s all educated, cultured, polite with like, morals and stuff.”

          Strych, I *barely* graduated high school. Got a nice chunk of college, but no degree. What I have learned is mostly through osmosis, and hanging around folks a whole lot smarter than I ever will be. (Some here in TTAG are among those).

          Now, as for the “cultured, polite with like, morals and stuff”, thing, if one goes to and searches for ‘Furry Porn” they will be, er, rewarded, I suppose.

          Just how do they clean those fur suits after the ‘festivities’, anyways? Yeeech!

          *snicker*… 😉

        • See Geo, this is what I’m talking about. Pornhub is for erudite, cultured gentlemen with a touch of class. Someone like yourself.

          “Softpaw” OTOH. Well, don’t go look that up. Long story short: It’s furry pedo porn and it’s legal. This is shit you cannot unsee.

          It’s the kind of thing you hear about and figure it can’t be real. Then you find out is actually is real. Then you find out that it’s popular enough to have spinoffs, fucking spinoffs of cub porn. And… at that point you kinda don’t want to be on this planet any more.

          And then you realize that it only gets worse from there. Col. Kurtz had nightmares about a snail crawling along a straight razor and surviving. That was his nightmare. Yeah, because he didn’t have the internet.

  13. “It is illegal to set up devices in your home to protect it from intruders, if those devices can cause harm.”

    Think about the above statements for a minute. Who’s house is it, your’s or the government’s? As long as no one breaks into your house, they will be perfectly unaffected. If they break in, they get what they get. Apparently we are more worried about the lives of criminals than the rights of property owners.

    • You don’t own your house. You “rent” it from the government. If you don’t pay your taxes, they take it. And there’s lots of “renter’s” rules, ordinances, HOA’s, easements, covenants etc.

      • Victoria, here in Florida, we have a “Homestead exemption” on property taxes for the first $50,000 of assessed value.

        50K is a very modest home down here, but it can be done. Your home would then be tax-free…

    • The law is meant to protect emergency responders like firemen.
      They might have to enter your house in an emergency when you are not there.
      Can’t have them getting shot by a booby trap.

        • Are they then allowed to stand there, pin you down for your own safety and, let you watch your family burn alive?

          Maybe beat your ass if you resist? Kill you if you go to far with resisting and become a threat to them?

        • Irrelevant. FD is legally obligated to take appropriate action to protect your property (which is expected is insured) from damage AND to keep your problem from spreading to your neighbor’s property. Note that this is 180degrees opposite of the popo. The FD can access and confiscate anything they need to complete this mission and in do so does NOT work for or report to the popo. (at least in most/normal states, who knows in Ca/NY/NJ etc)

          When a house is burning their is no time to sort out the niceties of what you want. “Reasonable man” applies – normal people don’t want their house or that of their neighbor destroyed.

        • “FD is legally obligated to take appropriate action to protect your property…”

          Serious question:

          Is this why they’re allowed to damage and even destroy cars that are legally parked when they run their hoses and stuff? You’re not supposed to park in front of hydrants and they’ll bust your windows if they need to in that situation but they also sometimes do things like this when the car isn’t in front of a hydrant and AFAIK it’s legal for them to do so during an emergency.

  14. I am blown away at TTAG quoting the BBC (that is the British Broadcasting Corporation) for several paragraphs about booby trapping including superficial legal advice even though I agree with most.

  15. I agree.

    As long as it is set up in such a way a reasonable person could not accidentally or unknowingly activate it there should be no legal problem with traps. Maybe throw in some protections against unnecessary cruelty in the taps because I’mma humanitarian.

  16. A man dies by tragic accident, and almost every single comment is a sick joke at his expense.
    Now what exactly does that say about the folks in the gun-community?

    • It’s not an accident. An accident is he trips, falls down and gets impaled on a pitchfork or something.

      This idiot intentionally set up a lethal device that doesn’t discriminate and then, like the moron he was, walked into it. Well, it didn’t discriminate, it was lethal, it functioned properly and now he’s dead.

      Good. Fuck ’em. Play Wile E. Coyote and you’re asking for trouble.

      But, since you mention it, here’s a joke since this dipshit deserves it:

      Mr. Cyr put the “boom” in “boomer”.

    • That we are human with all that entails? Or are you saying that only gun owners would have made fun of this guy?

      • I’m also a gun guy- heck on Friday I drew from concealment, racked the slide and put three rounds on target (one in the two cm bulls eye) at 10 meters- all in 2.62 seconds. I’m also a human but would never crack jokes about a guy dying on his way to feed squirrels. And if you think such tragic events are funny, believe me -posting your sarcastic sentiments on a post in public does nothing to convince the public that gun folks are descent people with high morals.

        • Bingo.

          Their need to satisfy their ego with a smug, sarcastic, ‘witty’ remark about foolish people causing their own death far outweighs any rational consideration or expression of basic humanity.

          Another shining example of the POTG and their worth as a member of our society.

        • We did not coin the phrase ‘ Darwin Awards’. We are no different from the rest of ‘humanity’. Except that miner, like a good nazi, is latching onto perceived differences that really don’t exist, to mark us with a yellow star. He believes we have no worth in society. Next step is the cattle cars.

          Same fascist tyranny, different decade.

        • @Steve Sherridon:

          “And if you think such tragic events are funny, believe me -posting your sarcastic sentiments on a post in public does nothing to convince the public that gun folks are descent people with high morals.”

          Plus one to that, Steve. Some of the comments herein are pretty calloused, and some people like to let it all hang out in public. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

        • “…posting your sarcastic sentiments on a post in public does nothing to convince the public that gun folks are descent people with high morals.”

          Is this some sort of hamhanded troll attempt?

          The country is sliding towards supporting serious gun control but they’re gonna support some asshole setting up lethal booby traps that kill indiscriminately (as evidenced by this dude’s demise) made from the very guns that they think should be banned or restricted? Really?

          No. This guy is the poster child for gun control. Fuck him.

    • I think it would look far worse for the pro gun community if we all tried to defend this dangerous idiot.

      • This guy’s popularity with the general public probably hovers slightly above where you’d be if you set up a Twitch stream of someone drowning puppies at the same time they touched the no-nos of physically retrained choir boys while dressed as a hot fox.

  17. BTw that 2.62 seconds was done with an M and P Compact, DPM recoil spring (stiff option), Apex Tactical Forward Faced Flat Trigger at 3lb’s, Shield RMSw Red Dot 3 moa, Crimson Trace Railmaster Green, using S and B gold box 114grn fmj. I had activated the Railmaster in the same motion as racking the slide (only Israeli carry for me) and didn’t actually use the red dot- as I fired the shots before even bringing the gun to eye height using the Railmaster…….

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