When Gareth Long heard a window break at his Cedar Hill, Texas home on Christmas Eve night, he had no way of knowing whether he would meet a poorly-dressed Santa Claus, a strangely pale Grinch or a latter-day Charles Manson. So he secured his family and armed himself to investigate. Robber Joshua Slaven (above) may have been desperate, mentally ill or under the influence of drugs when he broke into the Long family home, but he still still had plenty of warnings that he was likely to encounter an armed and uncooperative homeowner. This was Texas, after all . . .
But Slaven ignored those warnings, and when he also ignored the homeowner’s repeated warnings to leave, the homeowner shot him dead. According to dallasnews.com, paramedics bagged and tagged him at 11:59 p.m. on December 24th.
Slaven turned out to be the stepson of Cedar Hill Mayor Rob Franke, who lives a few blocks down the same street. This wasn’t Slaven’s first run-in with the law: he was arrested for assaulting his stepfather after Franke confronted him about his drug problem. He was later charged with violating an emergency protective order, meant to keep him away from Franke and his family.
Homeowner Long is exceedingly unlikely to face any criminal or civil charges arising from the shooting. Texas law encourages the defense of self, home and property, and Long reportedly gave Slaven every opportunity to flee before shooting him. Long’s attorney Chris Knox released the following statement about the incident:
“Mr. Long gave repeated warnings that he had a firearm and continuously demanded the intruder exit the home. Ignoring the warnings, the intruder advanced further into the home and Mr. Long reacted with force, as allowed by law, in order to defend himself, his wife and his home.”
As with almost every lethal DGU, there are no winners here. The shooting has devastated both the Long and Franke families, and it will surely turn future Christmases into an anniversary of grief and horror. The only person who can be said to be ‘at peace’ after this tragedy is the man who caused it all, Slaven himself. But he is dead.