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By Rich E.

“Rich, someone’s trying to break in the front door.”  At 3:00 AM on a New Mexico summer morning, this was my wife, shaking me awake after a long day on second shift and a couple beers when I got home. My initial response was something to the affect that “there’s no one trying to break in, go back to sleep.”  Then I heard it.  And felt it.  Someone was indeed trying to break down our front door . . .

Two nights before this incident I came home from work to find a girl sitting on my front porch steps crying. I recognized her as one of my wife’s coworkers and walked inside to tell my wife “This one’s for you.”  I don’t deal well with crying women.

Turns out that the young lady on my porch arrived home from work to find that her new husband had a girlfriend in the house, and when she showed up he threw her out (the wife) and told her to not come home. The young girl was fairly new in town and didn’t know many people, and she lived a few blocks from us.  Without a car or money, she walked to our house and sat down on the porch and cried because she didn’t know what to do or say, and had no idea or way to do anything herself.

I’ll shorten this a bit by saying that we told her she could stay with us until her Mom could send her a bus ticket to return to Nebraska.

Now back to the door. I quickly grabbed my Beretta M9 that was always on my nightstand and ran to the front door in time to put my foot at the bottom of the door to hold it as the person outside hit it one last time, hard enough to shatter the dead bolt and break the chain lock. I told him I had a gun and would shoot him if he managed to get in the house, but it slowed him down not at all.

When he backed up again to rush the door, I took my foot off the door and let him hit it.  This time he was greeted with the barrel of my Beretta punching him dead center of the forehead. I DID NOT SHOOT.  But, it scared him so bad that he did a back flip off my porch and landed face first, ass in the air, in the front yard. I yelled for my wife to call 911 and tell them I have a gun and might just shoot someone.

By the way, the entire time this is going on I’m in my bright red Fruit of the Looms, deciding that the situation warranted an immediate response without a wardrobe change.

The intruder started to run toward a pickup truck parked on the street, but by this point I was fairly pissed, so I ran him down and tackled him. Probably not the smartest thing to do, because once a bad guy starts to run away it’s a good idea to let him. However, I was PISSED, and it was a good tackle. I picked him up slamming him against the hood of his truck with my Beretta securely forced against the back of his head, directly behind his right ear.  I told him that if he moved or tried to fight I would indeed shoot him.

This was all taking place in a small town in New Mexico, and I was there as a contractor to the Air Force installing F-111 simulators on the base. It was soon after I had the guy on the hood of his truck that sirens started to sound all over town, and it only took only five minutes for all six police cars to arrive.

As the first one came to a stop, I stepped back from the intruder and held my gun above my head, walking backward until I got to my porch and laid the gun down beside the steps. Still in my bright red underwear.

All six cops had their guns drawn, some pointed at me, and some pointed at the bad guy. The first cop took one look at me and said “I think we know who the homeowner is.”

As my wife and I explained what had happened (she brought a pair of jeans outside for me), a couple of the other cops were talking to the guy I tackled, now in handcuffs.

It turns out that this guy was a friend of the husband of the girl who was still asleep in our spare bedroom, and he came over, drunk as a skunk, to “talk some sense into her.” About what is beyond me. Hell, she just wanted to go home.

The lead cop arrested the guy for DUI, criminal trespass and breaking & entering. He also had a .22 rifle in the back of his truck but didn’t threaten to use it so there were no charges filed concerning his gun. This is New Mexico. Lots of folks have guns in their trucks. He also had a great big goose egg in the middle of his forehead where I hit him with the barrel of my gun.

The cop told him that he was a lucky man, because had he tried the same thing at the cop’s house, he would be a corpse right now. The cop congratulated me for my restraint and asked where I learned to handle a weapon. I told him I was a former Security Policeman in the Air Force and they taught me everything I know.

There’s no moral to this story. I was well within my rights to kill this guy, but my gut told me that he wasn’t as big a threat as he thought he was.

Afterward I sat and thought about the entire incident. It boils down to being drunk and doing something really stupid.  I’ve been there before. If I got shot every time I did something stupid while I was drunk in my late teens and twenties, I’d look like Swiss Cheese. I’m happy it turned out the way it did, and I’m fairly sure that guy won’t be doing the same thing again.  If he does, someone else might not be as “reasonable” to deal with as I was, but I have no ghosts to deal with the rest of my life.

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    • >But, it scared him so bad that he did a back flip off my porch and landed face first, ass in the air, in the front yard. I yelled for my wife to call 911 and tell them I have a gun and might just shoot someone.

      That’s what tripped my detector.

      • The “back flip” was caused by the guy jumping backward into the rail on my porch and going over it backward. He wasn’t doing gymnastics.

    • Big time! Be ware of made up stories on TTAG…..sorry, but this one REAKS! It would be laughable but TTAG has some credibility….still…

      • So what if it is BS?
        Well written story of DGU.
        You have no evidence other than your BS posts.

        • My dad came of age at height of Great Depression. Was in AF for 24 years, served in WWII, stationed in post war Japan.
          Retired to Texas Hill Country, cattle ranched, First Manager of Lady Bird Johnson Park, went on to serve as County JP for 4 terms.
          Since he left home at 17 and did not marry until 29 had a lot of great stories to tell, Used to tell people “if you can’t believe me, just sit back and try to enjoy them”
          Don’t know if I believe story in this article or not, but sure did enjoy it!


    • Don’t be that guy. Rich E., great story. I was laughing for most of it. Unfortunately for me I sleep in the buff so the cops and bad guy would be seeing a lot more of me than they cared to. One question I have is whether they were briefs or boxer briefs. I love my trusty fruit of the loom boxer briefs. Though the others make for a funnier visual.

  1. Well what about the unhappy sobbing young wife? Damn, finish the story. It doesn’t end with a cuff and stuff!

    • Yeah, what happened to the poor little girl and can I get her mom’s number in Nebraska? Man, the power women have over some dude’s is nutz. I can’t sleep at night cause I’m afraid she is still crying on that really busy porch.

    • The beauty lies in the fact that sometimes they don’t work out so well for the crook. So this was in Lincoln County somewhere?

  2. I have seen words to this effect several times in the past week or two, “I was well within my rights to kill this guy…” No, you were not. Shoot him as many times as it takes for him to no longer be aggressive or a threat, no question. If he dies because of those shots, so be it. Never, EVER, express the willingness to kill someone. Your words could come back to haunt you.

    And to clarify, if he had broken down my door and my gun barrel had left an impression on his forehead, about 0.04 seconds later he would receive a second contact even less to his liking. If that didn’t stop the THREAT, more would follow.

  3. This ended well for everyone, but I’m afraid I’ve got two Monday-morning quarterbacking points to make:

    1. The biggest benefit to having a gun for defense is that you don’t have to close to melee range to use it. Getting close enough to put the gun right in his face also means you’re close enough to be disarmed, or wounded even if you manage to shoot.
    2. Chasing a man down the street after breaking in is really, really, unbelievably stupid. Not only are you exposing yourself to even more danger, you’re also leaving your home unprotected, and you’re actually escalating the situation. If end up shooting in that situation, it’s actually somewhat ambiguous whether it’s still self-defense.

    I know, hindsight is 20/20, but that’s why we discuss these scenarios before we find ourselves in them. The author made a good decision in not shooting, but a series of awful ones as well. Finally, I’m a lot less sympathetic to the assailant for being ‘drunk and stupid’. I’ve been drunk and stupid plenty of times, but all of those incidents involved hurting myself, not others. The guy was ‘not a threat’ because only a good man with a gun was there to stop him.

  4. Heh, yeah. F-111 sims and ftl briefs make mtg place this story sometime before the millennium, right? These days its all about drone trainers and boxer shorts.

  5. I guess TTAG was the only publisher who agreed to print this work of pure fiction, huh?

  6. The F 111 was retired in 1998, they were flown out of Cannon AFB, near Clovis, NM, which is small (40,000 ish) town in NM.

  7. “I’ve been there before. If I got shot every time I did something stupid while I was drunk in my late teens and twenties, I’d look like Swiss Cheese.” I’ve been drunk plenty of times in my 50+ years on this planet. I’ve been blind drunk several times as well. Never in that same amount of time was I ever drunk and or stupid enough to try and break in someone’s house for any reason. Call it upbringing. Call it innate sense of right and wrong. Call it self control. Call it whatever you want to but making excuses for that drunken dumb ass (who the homeowner had no way of knowing was drunk or terminally stupid) and hesitating to put him down permanently is almost as irresponsible as getting drunk and trying to break into an occupied house.

  8. I am the author. Not bullshit at all. Happened just the way I described it, but that’s for you to believe or not as you see fit. Lot’s of Monday morning quarterbacking I see. I’ll let you tell your story when you get in a situation such as this, and I’ll tell mine as it happened. Did I make mistakes? Sure, I’m not perfect and at 3 AM, you won’t be either. I lived, my wife lived, and the dumbass lived. That’s all I cared about.

    And BTW – I sat in his commanders office the following Monday (he was a young flightline GI), as the commander tried to decide what to do with him. He took all his stripes and let him retain his career. Fine by me.

    As for the young lady, she was on a bus three days later and went back to Nebraska to live with her mother. That’s the last we heard of her.

    This took place in 1988 at Clovis New Mexico.

    And I did not leave my wife unprotected as I chased in in my driveway (not down the street). She was armed as well, with her Colt King Cobra.

    • let him retain his career? he should have done time and then been dishonorably discharged.

    • Don’t let the bastards get you down as they say. Good write up, great read. A great many of the ‘kill them on the spot’ guys have never been in a situation like that and most of the rest are sociopaths. You knew you were incurring additional risks by not shooting him and chose to accept it. It was your choice to make and the facts bore you out, you didn’t have to shoot him and nothing bad came from not shooting him, bravo. Of course if you’d shot him I’d say the same thing, you assessed the risks and decided shooting was the optimal response.

      These sorts of critical situations are so varied, so dynamic and fluid that there is no ‘right’ choice, like it was some sort of absolute. They are always a series of risk assessments and split second decisions based on vague impressions. Of course, had you been killed under the same circumstances we would be critiquing what you did wrong too, but I think you know that.

      You trusted your own judgment, and it worked, that’s all that matters here. That no one was seriously hurt or killed is just a huge plus. Anytime you can end a DGU that way it’s a good thing, and all the shoot first and ask questions later types may come to see it that way too if they ever find themselves where you were.

  9. I don’t know rich! The story might very well be true, I just can’t get past the “bright red” Fruit of the looms.
    I mean, wouldn’t you rather have had the guy bang your door down, run over the top of you, threaten your wife, shoot your dog, steal all your China, rather to be seen by practically everybody in the city, in those undies?

    • I would have been naked. And having thought about these situations in the past I can honestly say I get a laugh from the thought of a bad guy getting held at gunpoint by a dude in his birthday suit. So it could have been worse, I suppose.

  10. One thing I am not sure I would have done is talk to the police, because if they’re not decent cops, it could really get you into some trouble. Be polite, but respectfully exercise your right to remain silent. And don’t let your temper get you and chase after the guy!

    This post actually reminded me of Hillary Clinton’s campaign ad from back in 2008 😀

  11. I like it. It’s well told and there are lessons to be learned. My big disagreement comes at the end, when the author implies that the home invader was guilty of, more or less, just drunken Tomfoolery. Come on, man. He was busting down a stranger’s door at 3 in the morning to strong arm a young lady asleep inside. He clearly meant to plow right through anyone who tried to stop him. I applaud your spirit of forgiveness and all, but I think you’re badly underestimating this dude’s pathology.

  12. The story happened in 1988. Things have changed a lot since then guys; critique the events and what you would have done then versus now, and your actions would be different.

    • Entirely correct Clay. Not only does the time period matter, the context does too. While it might not be ‘tactically sound’, my willingness to shoot is going to be altered based on where we are and the totality of events, not just on whether or not I’m legally justified in doing so. It seems to me that the OP was not entirely in fear for his life once he had initiated contact with the threat, thus after that shooting him wasn’t the right answer.

      The again, there are an awful lot of commenters who either prefer to call the OP a liar based on exactly nothing at all, or else are eager to assert that you should always shoot anyone as soon as you can legally justify it. I’ve no idea what drives the former, but the latter I suspect simply haven’t ever been in a situation like that and don’t understand the nuances of such a violent encounter or the internal injunction against shooting anyone unless there just isn’t any other way. The lucky ones will never know.

  13. The appetite of American public for fiction cannot ever be satiated.

    if there is really “a sucker born every minute”, where do the rest of them come from?!?!

  14. Another White Knight story. This contest is now nothing but a (not very) Creative Writing contest.

  15. I find it surprising the number of commenters on these posts who find it difficult to believe that there would be a few people at TTAG who have experienced a DGU. Here we have a collection of gun owners and often gun carriers, perhaps the largest communicating group of them anywhere. What would be surprising is if none of us had ever had a DGU.

    I’ve had several, but choose not to post them. I’m much more comfortable sorting out the lessons learned from them and offering those, rather than offering the incidents themselves. It would probably be more instructive if I offered the incidents, but there is a tendency here for some to disparage everything about another commenters DGU experiences. Everything from outright calling them a liar to criticizing their every move to being incapable of forgiving them for their mistakes even when they admit they were mistakes from the outset. This small cabal of ignorant, rude, narrow minded and self important people is preventing others from sharing their experiences, experiences that would not only be hugely valuable to the POTG, but which in many cases are beneficial to the person who experienced them.

    Talking about such experiences, what you did right and what you did wrong is educational and cathartic. No matter how much someone seems to have brushed it off, there is usually at least a grain of fear or of anger or remorse or some other pent up emotion or trauma left over after experiences like these, grains that often the person isn’t even aware are still with them. When you ridicule them, call them liars and fools, you accomplish two things: You cut them off from getting to ‘get it off their chest’ and feel better about the thing they experienced or from learning anything from their mistakes and successes, and you ensure that fewer people will post their experiences. It doesn’t make you look smart, or edgy. It doesn’t make you look superior to them. It makes you look immature, inexperienced and ignorant. When experience speaks to ignorance, education is taking place. When ignorance won’t shut up and learn what they can from experience, stupidity is on display.

  16. Wow, lots of obnoxious monday morning quarterbacking in the comments.

    This is one article in which the article itself is definitely far more enlightening than the comments.

    The F-111 was retired a long time ago, and times were different back then. I don’t blame Rich one bit for tackling the guy in circumstances of being highly pissed off and adrenalized, and I’m glad he survived it.

    I wonder how many of the monday morning quarterbacks ever had a DGU of their own?

    I had one in the 90’s, too, and I didn’t have to shoot anybody either.

  17. Bolstering your cynical contempt for anyone who is not you by calling them a liar or a fraud? Weak! Isn’t it amazing how many all-seeing, all-knowing, talking monkeys we have within our ranks when posting anonymous opinions? If you are going to call B.S. on someone, get some facts before you start a shit fight. Oh, that’s right, it might require doing some WORK! But then, why bother working when it’s so much easier to act superior? With that in mind, I think I’ll just keep my 2 DGU’s to myself.

    Those who know, don’t talk – those who talk, don’t know.

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