“Police said the husband and wife were in bed when they heard noises outside their exterior bedroom door at 3:30 a.m.,” dailycamera.comreports. “The screen door was closed but unlocked. In the darkness, they shouted to warn the intruder to leave and that they had a gun, but [Zoey] Ripple [above] continued walking through the bedroom, and [Timothy] Justice fired one shot . . . When the homeowners turned on the lights, they saw Ripple on the floor with a gunshot wound to her hip and called 911, police said. They said they did not recognize her as anyone they knew.” As well they mightn’t. Ms. Ripple was skunk drunk. And, now, lucky to be alive. And we’re lucky to have a story to illustrate three important points about armed home defense . . .

1. Be sure of your target and who it is

One of my favorite gun gurus told me “I don’t care who it is. If they’re in my house when they shouldn’t be I’m going to shoot them.” I respectfully disagree. There are plenty of drunk ass Zoeys in this world. Your child may let in a friend. A dinner party guest might come back at stupid o’clock to retrieve their handbag. A neighbor may . . . I don’t know . . . something. Shit happens.

Don’t get me wrong; I get it. One or both Justices shouted a warning before shooting Ms. Ripple. They gave her plenty of time to ID herself and/or leave. And yes, hesitation kills. If it WAS a bad guy, waiting might have been fatal. Point taken. But here’s an idea: put night lights throughout you house so you can see what’s going on. And then look before you shoot.

2. Lock your doors, alarm your house

Anytime a newbie asks me what gun they should buy I ask them: “Do you have an alarm system?” If no, the conversation stops there. If yes, I ask them if they use it. Panic buttons? Again, it’s either the beginning of a ballistic conversation or the end. Yes, it’s that important. A shrieking alarm can prevent an armed encounter with both friend and foe.


Of course, there’s nothing quite like a soft breeze on a warm summer night. Alarm systems can exclude certain doors or windows. Equally and at the same time, a situationally aware homeowner can choose from a wide selection of security screen doors and windows.


We can’t say it often enough. If you have any kind of home invasion or violent encounter, give the police just enough information to know where you are and what you need. Then hang up or, if you are in the middle of something and you want it recorded, set the phone down.

Do not admit to the 911 operator that you’ve brandished a weapon or, God forbid, shot someone. Again, hang up or leave the phone. As soon as the situation is stable and the cops are on their way call your lawyer. You do have one on speed dial, yes? [h/t Rick L]



  1. Yikes… #2 doesn’t sit so well with me. I’m not sure I even could put up an alarm system here, and I’m almost certain I wouldn’t want to spend the money – this place is a mobile home, and a (very temporary) rental at that – on something I’d have a hard time justifying to myself.

  2. “But here’s an idea: put night lights throughout you house so you can see what’s going on. And then look before you shoot.”

    And have a Surefire tactical flashlight next to your bed/handgun, so you can:
    (a) temporarily disorient the intruder, and (b) have a clear, well-lighted ID before you shoot.

    And lock your doors!

  3. I was at BigLots! the other day and found a pack of door/window alarms for $5. There were like six alarms in each pack. Pretty affordable home security option for most situations. Granted, if they broke a window or something it probably wouldn’t set the alarm off, but then you’d have the sound of breaking glass…

    • There are a couple of places in my condo where I have those cheapo alarms positioned so that if an intruder moves something the contact will fall away from the alarm causing it to go off. For example, there is one super glued to the base of my TV. The contact is just resting next to it. If my TV moves it goes off. You could probably come up with something similar for your windows.

  4. The couple who live in the 4,000 square foot home (selling for $2.7 million) are both therapists. You’d think that if they were concerned enough about crime to own a Glock they’d have locked their doors.

    Little Zoey the drunk (who is btw adorable) is a student majoring in speech, language and hearing sciences. I guess being drunk she wasn’t able to practice her field of study.

    This story is almost comical.

    • Zoey is pretty cute. A story posted about 20 minutes ago said the DA is filing charges of First Degree Criminal Trespass: A person commits the crime of first degree criminal trespass if such person knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in a dwelling of another or if such person enters any motor vehicle with intent to commit a crime therein. First degree criminal trespass is a class 5 felony.

      According to this chart, that carries a sentence of anywhere from 6 months to 3 years, and fines that start at a thousand bucks and reach to the sky. Ouch.

      • Zoey was found with a high alcohol content in her body. The door was unlocked. She did not have burglary tools, etc. I’m not sure how they plan on successfully charging her even if she did have one prior shoplifting charge. Then again, I’m not an attorney so what do I know? Perhaps Zoey told the police she ‘knew’ it wasn’t her home?

        • Proving trespass generally requires proving the person knew that she was entering the property, not that she knew she was trespassing, or anything else. Voluntary intoxication does not generally vitiate the knowledge element of a crime, especially when the crime focuses on the conduct, not the intent to bring about a result. As long as she entered the property of her own volition and it was her fault that she was intoxicated, they probably have her cold.

  5. “As soon as the situation is stable and the cops are on their way call your lawyer. You do have one on speed dial, yes?”

    Robert, please post Ralph’s cell phone number so we can ALL place him on speed dial. Thanks.

    • Yep. I had a guy who was “drunk off his bicycle” (the words of the sherrif that responded) try and get in my house one night while the wife and I sat on the couch watching television.

      Turns out the guy was so smashed he thought he was at another house and could not even tell them how he got to mine.

      Ultimately no charges were filed and he got a free ride home courtesy the Po Po.

    • I blame alcohol abuse for what has happened here.

      Are you referring to the situation in the article, or to TTAG generally?

  6. If you live in a non-urbanized area (ie, where no one is going to respond to some silly noisemaker), you’re much better off getting a hard dog. Real dogs (ie, those that are larger than 26″ at the shoulder and 90lbs in weight) are much better than any alarm system.

  7. Primeter lighting (even accent lighting on the house, with those that also activate becasue of motion) Followed by a dog or dogs. I have a 70lb chow. He is very protective of my girls.

  8. Don’t take legal advice from journalists who have a blog.

    Not everyone can afford an alarm system and no one is required to have one before they defend themselves. You’re not required to lock your doors. Some people don’t have air conditioning and they must leave doors and windows open for their comfort. This does not erase their rights to defend themselves.

    Yes, you should be certain of your target, but it seems to me that just because she’s a cute blonde chick doesn’t mean she wasn’t out to rob them of something for drug money. You don’t know if she is a desperate meth head with a gun who happens to still be cute and blonde.

    It’s a bit presumptive to second guess this family.

    Even cute blonde chicks have a responsibility to not enter someone’s home uninvited and even if she were just drunk and didn’t have the mens rea to rob them or hurt them, she had no reasonable expectation that the family would know that.

        • Skyler, there is a point about the legal bit which is worth others considering in this, and that is “what exactly does your state Castle and/or SYG law say?” I think that actually is missed by the alarm advice but absolutely provides a motivation to have a light in your hand. The Colorado statute in this case does not provide cover to the couple involved unless some further act or expression of intent can be convincingly described beyond mere accidental entry to the house. [My state is otherwise.] There is every reason to lock your doors just before you turn out your interior lights if you intend armed defense of your home, and every reason to have a light if you have a gun…and have them together in an otherwise dark house. Support for the merely secondary value of an alarm is this: If these people didn’t even lock their doors….what’s the f’g chance they would have turned on their alarm? But without having light they could easily have tagged an 85 year old mostly-deaf Alzheimer’s patient…without a clue what they were shooting at. That would garner even more sympathy for the shootee than being a cute co-ed. Screw the alarm, but people should lock the doors before the lights go off, and have light with their gun….for their own legal protection, not to mention shooting enhancement if shooting is required.

    • “You’re not required to lock your doors”.

      When I studied insurance we heard about a case study when the homeowner was found at fault when a thief fell through a skylight. Not locking doors might be considered an ‘invitation’ of sorts to walk in. I agree it is insane yet the laws are often not ones of common sense and the courts not places of justice.

      • In Canada leaving a door unlocked or the keys in a car actually incriminate the person breaking in/stealing the car AND you!

        A great point of note is that if you left your doors unlocked and as burglers were cleaning you out one of them slipped on a loose step… guess who is liable? HAH!

  9. My sister always insists that her house is always locked up as tight as Fort Knox. I showed her how I could get in through every single entry point in less than a minute, maybe two minutes for the top floor. She now wants an alarm and video system.

  10. I’ll second-guess them. With somewhere between 300K and 800K a year in income, they were too cheap to say “yes” when the gun-store clerk asked “will there be gun lights with that order, ma’am?” In a town like Boulder locking doors should be automatic as there are more than a few Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers wandering around occasionally, not to mention Philosophy professors. They are psychiatrists, and they have professional knowledge of this. But hey, since they skipped the flashlight bit, we can’t say they knew they were shooting a drunk unarmed college kid. Legally liable? Probably not, although there is nothing indicating she was intending any further crime beyond entering the house. Negligent in fact? Yes.

    • Isn’t this a nonsequitor? Liability follows hot on the heals of negligence–so if there is no legal liability (and there is no immunity) then they could not have been negligent. So how could they have been “negligent in fact”? If you mean that they were perhaps foolish in not being better prepared, I can go along with that, but “negligent”? That is a legal concept, a concept that requires that they have a duty to put in an alarm, lock their doors and windows, or buy weapons lights. I think you would agree that no matter how appropriate such behavior might have been, they had no duty to do so.

      • Mark: I did say “legally liable? Probably not” but “negligent in fact. Yes.” Negligent was a word in general use before it gained additional technical legal meanings. Here is the first definition, from the full Oxford English Dictionary or OED:
        .A adj. 1. a.A.1.a Of persons: Inattentive to duty; not attending to, or doing, what ought to be done; neglectful.
        That is exactly what I meant, “not…doing…what ought to be done.” They clearly did not do some of the simple things that ought to be done. I understand your objection though, as people are so used to “negligent” having legal consequences. Not in this case, probably. And to convey my personal reaction aside from technicalities, it is this: I could take the unlocked doors, but using a light….or locked doors and no flashlight or gunlight. In a fairly dense residential area, though, it strikes me as, well, negligent to do neither, seems like a failure “to do what…ought to be done.” Have a good Memorial Day weekend and, laugh, please lock your doors before you turn out the lights even if the law does not punish your failure to do so.

  11. ” Anytime a newbie ask me what gun they should buy I ask them: “Do you have an alarm system?” If no, the conversation stops there.”
    What does having an alarm system (or not ) have to do with selecting a gun?
    Why does not having an alarm preclude having a gun?
    How does an alarm system protect you when you are away from home?

    I do agree that an alarm and a dog are great ideas.
    But instead of ” Get back to me after you get an alarm and I’ll try to help you”,
    I suggest that after you answere their gun related questions, you end the conversation with a sentence such as ” Oh! Buy the way do you have an alarm?”
    Then go from there.

    • I believe that every American has the right to keep and bear arms. And that the government is prohibited from infringing that right. Full stop. Nothing I say to them, or write here, affects that right.

      I also believe that a gun is only part of personal self-defense. If someone isn’t willing to consider the totality of their personal defense (especially at home), then I, personally, am not comfortable guiding them towards armed self-defense. YMMV.

      • I agree that a gun is only part of personal defense.
        I have both alarm and dog.
        Also perimeter lighting, monitors and trauma kits.

        Still, I believe the FIRST rule of self defense and the first rule of a gun fight are the same.
        You can have every early warning device known to man, but without a gun you can only call for help and prey it arrives, in time.

        • “You can have every early warning device known to man, but without a gun you can only call for help and prey it arrives, in time”

          You are absolutely right.. and when seconds count, the police are minutes away.

    • The problem with alarm systems is that it gives the reason plenty of cause to search your home in the event of a false alarm. If you value your privacy, or have trigger happy cops, this could be a problem. A small dog however…

      • You don’t have to get a monitored system. You can get an alarm system solely for the early warning it would give you so you have more time to react.

      • Small, or any size dogs, are great, but they need to be poison-proofed. If your dog is part of your perimeter defense system, you owe it to them to try to keep them safe, too.

  12. Capt. Renault to Rick Blaine: “How extravagant you are, throwing away women like that. Some day they may be scarce.”

    A few more shootings like this and Renault will be considered a prophet.

    • I’m with those who think the fact that a woman was shot, not a man, is of no special interest. The fact that in this day and age they couldn’t see what they were shooting is beyond belief, almost. If they’d shot Ingrid Bergman even with a light…ah, but they wouldn’t have!

  13. I would have added a few more specifics in the last paragraph Robert. A description of myself as the home owner and that you are armed. Additionally, that an ambulance and Paramedics need to be dispatched as an Intruder has been shot. Then is a good time to go quiet and call your attorney. It is also advisable to set the stage for when the police get there, “My wife and I heard someone come into the house, We both called out to them and gave them a chance to leave and they did not.” Clamming up completely may truly not be the right thing.
    Mossad Ayoob:
    “Failure to Communicate
    I’ve been an expert witness for the courts in shootings and other use-of-force cases for 29 years now. I’ve literally lost count of the number of good people I’ve seen get in trouble because they didn’t communicate with authorities in the immediate aftermath of a DGU (defensive gun usage).
    Done Right
    In Case Four, a clergyman in an Eastern city was aware of violent street crime in his neighborhood, and he was licensed to carry the Glock 27 pistol that was with him on the night in question. He was confronted by an armed robber who pointed a revolver at him. The padre drew and fired in self-defense, his single shot dropped the offender. The criminal survived, though seriously wounded. He turned out to have been armed with a starter pistol that resembled a real revolver.

    Aftermath? Zip! He told the cops what happened. Their investigation quickly determined that the wounded man was a dangerous career criminal, and the shooter was the quintessential Good Guy. Learning from the shooter in the beginning what had happened, set the stage for an investigation that turned out to be the impartial fact-finding an investigation is supposed to be.”

    It is all in how it is presented to Law Enforcement when they arrive. If bare facts are given, “someone entered our home, we warned them to leave or be shot, they did not leave and I shot them, here they are! Done.

  14. If the drunk intruder who got shot was an unattractive middle-age fat bald guy I wonder if people would judge and comment any differently?

  15. I grew up in The People’s Republic Of Boulder, and drunken student violence and stupidity is not at all uncommon. The Boulder police have yet to demonstrate their competency at anything more challenging than ticket-writing, underage drinking enforcement (remember JonBenet Ramsay?) and rousting aggressive panhandlers.

    In a city so hysterically liberal and Politically Correct as Boulder, I won’t be surprised if felony charges are filed against the homeowner. How DARE he shoot such a cute, defenseless little creature?

  16. Dang all this leads me to think it could have gone from a shooting to having her wake up the next day wondering what she had done and a giant smile on Tim’s face..

  17. It’s not always a cute drunk girl who wanders in. Big news here from a few years back, a kid got black out drunk downtown on his 21st, kicked down the door to a random apartment, and proceeded to beat an elderly man to death. Got off with something like three years in jail. I agree that you should know your target, but after stories like the one I just told, I don’t know how much leeway you should give any intruder.


  18. Dogs are a great warning system. Jaques would come unglued and aggresively pee on any intruder and hump their leg.

  19. Years ago I read that something like 80% to 90% of all homicide victims were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they died. I don’t remember the context of the figure, but it could be anything from what environment they were in, to their ability to recognize a threat, or even to defend themselves. At any rate, you can seriously cut your odds of being killed just by staying sober.

    Zoey knows this now.

  20. No reply available to Tom’s 5/25/ reply @21:55, so I will respond here.
    Guess there is at least one gremlin still in the mix.

    Tom, I deliberately used the spelling “prey” instead of “pray” to convay the message of both” praying” and ” being prey”within the context of the sentence.
    I do things like this often.
    I also thought of using the spelling “preay” but I wanted to see who would notice and what response I would get and thought this spelling might be too noticeable.
    This is also why I did not emphasize the word or use “pray/prey”.
    I kind of expected Robert, Ropingdown, Aharon or Ralph to catch the meaning.

    I was originally going to use the word “hope” and changed it to “prey” for the reasons mentioned.

    Now that space between gun and fight was a mistake.
    One that I make often.

  21. They told her to get out & that they have a gun, as well as willing to use the firearm. I don’t see a need at that point to use a light before ventilating the intruder.

    Also after finding out the moron had a blood alcohol level of over 0.2 I think that make it even more the morons fault for getting so drunk all she could talk to was someone on a cell phone instead of the people telling her to stop what she was doing.

  22. Here’s another wrinkle from today’s Daily Camera.

    According to a 1999 online article in Psychiatric News, Orion was stalked for at least a decade by a schizophrenic woman she treated briefly at an Arizona hospital. The article said the woman even followed her to Colorado and moved into the same Boulder neighborhood.

  23. I believe little Ms. Drunken Idjit doesn’t need to catch a felony for this. One would think that getting shot is punishment enough.


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