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In February, a Minneapolis homeowner heard an intruder walking on her patio and trying her back door. After finding the gate to the yard locked the would be burglar had hopped the fence. The homeowner retrieved a gun and, by the time she checked again, the burgalr was in her garage. She tried to warn him off, but Martin Lee Johnson didn’t leave.

As reports, the homeowner and her son repeatedly warned the burglar to leave . . .

“Get the (expletive) out of my garage, now!” she screamed in between [warning] gunshots.

On the surveillance video, you can hear the homeowner’s son’s voice as he joins her in yelling at the intruder.

“Get the (expletive) out,” they both yell as Johnson walks out of the garage door.

Johnson appears to look toward the fence momentarily before walking toward the mother and son. The surveillance camera is positioned right above the sliding door where they stood, pointed right at Johnson.

“No, go the other way,” the woman yelled.

Johnson didn’t.

After two more warning shoots, the homeowner’s son fired at Johnson, killing him. The shooting has been ruled justified by prosecutors.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office declined charges in the case — calling it valid self-defense — despite protests from Johnson’s family and friends. 

The warning shots in this case were a very bad idea. While the homeowners’ attorney cited them as proof they tried to convince Johnson to leave, his clients could have been prosecuted for launching four rounds into the air in a suburban neighborhood. In fact, if Johnson had left, chances are good that the homeowners would have been prosecuted for discharging a firearm in city limits, reckless endangerment, assault…any number of possible offenses.

The video shows that the homeowners were clearly justified in using force to stop Johnson’s approach. They can be heard warning him off, giving him every opportunity to leave. When he continued to approach them and reportedly reached for his waistband, force was justified to stop the threat. They’re just very fortunate that the prosecutor decided not to pursue charges for the warning shots.

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  1. That was a well earned Darwin Award.

    We are rapidly approaching the point where every home in America has a gun in it.

    • Let’s go for six or more – one for Mom, one for Dad, one for each of the kids old enough to handle them. And, six is no limit, that’s just a starter point. If Mom wants 10 or more of her own, and Dad wants 7 of his own, and each kid wants 2 or more apiece, that’s all cool!

    • quote————–That was a well earned Darwin Award.——-quote

      Jethro you get the Moron of the year award. Clearly the man who broke in wanted to commit suicide similar to suicide by cop but what would a high school drop out know about psychology.

        • jwm, what amazes me is that he could diagnose the suspect and deduce his intentions from a short article. (I presume the suspect and the dunce have never met.) Maybe Duncian counts clairvoyance among his few talents.

    • jwm,

      We are rapidly approaching the point where every home in America has a gun in it.

      I respectfully disagree. There are plenty of people (most people?) on the Far Left political spectrum who do not have any firearms in their homes.

      My neighbors across the street are one such example. Another neighbor is an avid hunter and everyone in our neighborhood knows that. My neighbors across the street were talking to him a few years back. They were shocked to learn that he kept his hunting rifle at his home–and expressed disapproval over having a firearm in the home. Of course they were still convinced that their decision to not own firearms was a good decision that everyone should follow.

      I know other such people in my community as well.

      The explanation is simple. Emotions and impulses (but I repeat myself) typically reign supreme in the minds of people on the Far Left political spectrum. If they experience an emotional revulsion over something, they reject it and, if pressed, will vomit words to justify their rejection and suppress dissent. Firearm ownership is totally subject to the same “mental” process.

      • Actually Uncommon Sense your neighbors were not all wrong as most people injured or killed by a firearm are shot by someone they know, not a stranger on the street and not in a break in. Many, many studied done over the many, many years all confirm this beyond all doubt. And if you have children the risk goes even higher of them being accidentally killed by a loaded firearm left unattended in the home.

  2. NO such thing as a “Warning Shot”.
    A “burglar” in your garage and you’re firing “warning shots”?!? GMAB!!!
    They have been watching too much TV.

    If you fire a “warning shot” in FL, you have committed a FELONY.

    • In Minneapolis you can bet they were following Biden’s advice, except they didn’t have a double-barreled shotgun and didn’t shoot through the screen.

    • Yes, if the prosecutor wants to make the case, the simple fact that you chose to fire a warning show PROVES that you did not really think you were in any immediate danger..

      Much the same could equally be said of all those touted instances of a supposed “Defensive Gun Use” where there were “no shots fired” — after all, if you honestly believed you were in immediate imminent danger, why didn’t you shoot? And if you weren’t in immediate imminent danger why did you draw your gun at all?

      • Simple solution, shoot them in the chest.

        “I fired a warning shot”
        “But he’s got a GSW center mass”
        “Yeah, I suck at shooting”.

      • X L: As to your last paragraph, the simple introduction of a firearm by the intended victim often de-escalates a mortal danger situation by its mere presence. Imminent danger is often averted in this manner by civilians and LEOs.

        If an intended attacker then retreats and you shoot him/her/it in the back, or are caught on one of the hundreds of thousands of cameras turning defense into assault, you will likely regret your choice of further action even though you are probably cheered here. But I wouldn’t want to stand in your way or live your life for you.

    • Whity, I don’t advocate warning shots, but we had a citizen that loved them. Anytime she thought someone was trespassing on her property she’d step outside and fire a couple of shots. I think her name was Jill. Then she’d call us. We never arrested her. Never found any evidence of a tresspasser. Fortunately, she owned acreage. No immediate neighbors. I think she just liked the attention. As far as the article. The homeowner’s story should have been, “Officer, that man was trying to break into my home. I was afraid for my, and my son’s, life. I shot at him a couple of times and missed. Then I remembered my training. I took a deep breath then concentrated on the front sight and my trigger control. You see the results. He should have ran away when I missed.”

    • Wow. What a silly response from the Anti-Self Defense crowd and the perps family! They claim he was seeking help and /or shelter (in someone elses home!?!?) !? He certainly didn’t articulate this to the homeowner and her son…He DIDN’T say, ” hey! I need HELP! Call the police! I’m close and CAN’T find my way back home!!!” That’s NOT what the perps did…He stayed and continued to advance in a hostile manner against an ARMED homeowner and her son…

  3. Trying to find shelter by entering someones home? He’d be alive today if wasn’t out trying to enter peoples houses. He’d be alive today if like MOST people when someone says get lost and fires warning shots…HE GOT THE F—– OUT OF THERE! If you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.

    His prize wasn’t particularly desirable.

  4. Warning shots are a terrible combination of uninformed instinct (the firearm-equipped human equivalent of a rattlesnake rattle) and Hollywood. Really glad they weren’t charged, regardless. Not their fault they were put in that harrowing situation.

    • Rattlesnake rattles make sense because of the amount of energy the snake requires to make venom.

      Warning shots are just a waste of money and asking for criminal charges.

  5. Other than shoplifting at a gun store I can’t think of anything stupider then walking back towards someone while being threatening who’s already got a gun in their hand.

    • Very true but we see videos of it all the time. Someone has a gun and the other guy is acting like he’s superman and gets shot. Not too terribly bright.

    • Officer Bill,

      I can’t think of anything stupider then walking back towards someone … who’s already got a gun in their hand.

      That dynamic is not a result of stupidity. Rather, it is a result of a depraved mind. The criminal who has no regard for the possessions (and by extension the time it took to earn or make those possessions) or physical well-being of another person is depraved. Their “thinking” processes no longer function the same way as rational and decent people.

  6. If a gun comes out of hiding at our house the decision has already been made to use it until the threat is gone. No wasted ammo

  7. Aside from the firing of warning shots, there is another element to this scenario: why are you standing there with the door open against someone you consider a threat?

    The situation is scary enough that you’re firing “warning shots” and then using deadly force but not scary enough to keep the door closed or to close it once you decide the guy is a threat?

    I’m not making a determination on the legality of this shooting. However, how much do you think this process has cost the family? How much was that lawyer’s retainer? What if the prosecutor had decided differently? What about the almost inevitable civil lawsuit? Even if you win such a thing, you lose.

    If the choice is between a coffin and a courtroom, I’ll choose the courtroom. If there is a third option, however, that may avoid both outcomes, it would seem to be the wise choice.

    • Hannibal,

      …why are you standing there with the door open against someone you consider a threat?

      There are three dimensions to this.

      First of all, we have a right to fight to keep our possessions. This family was fighting for their possessions and ordering the burglar to leave–and leave their possessions behind.

      Second, hiding in your home and allowing a criminal to operate unopposed is ceding the public to criminals. It is in everyone’s interest to oppose criminals. There are countless examples where good people failed to oppose criminals who then went on to seriously victimize others.

      Third, we could argue that the criminal was not a serious/imminent threat to the homeowner until the criminal turned and started advancing on the homeowner. Prior to that, the homeowners were not necessarily acting foolishly in opening their door and verbally challenging the criminal.

    • Hannibal,

      There is no question that a righteous defender could face serious financial and legal risk after using deadly force to defend him or herself. We refer to this general risk when we talk about how a criminal victimizes you the first time and then our criminal justice system victimizes you a second time. That prospect is awful.

      An equally (if not more) awful prospect in my mind: I hide in my safe room, refuse to challenge a criminal, and then find out that said criminal later went on to rape or murder someone.

      On a similar vein, imagine learning that a neighbor refused to challenge a criminal which enabled that criminal to then rape your daughter. Would you give that neighbor a high-five for being prudent and minimizing his/her financial and legal risk? Or would you be angry at your neighbor’s inaction?

  8. Being as the perp ignored verbal warnings with warning shots the kill shot was the only option. Had the warning shots been taken to trial it wouldn’t go anywhere as it showed restraint and when the jury sees the video they would mostly likely concur…Case closed, Let’s roll Earl.

    I know all of this stuff because I’ve watched the 2011 movie The Lincoln Lawyer 4 times:)

  9. Darwin winner, went looking for trouble, found it. No loss to society, in fact, he did society a favor, nobody has to support him for 60+ years, or be his victim(s).

  10. Unfortunately in most places if you fired warning shots you would be in trouble for reckless endangerment since you are responsible for where those bullets wind up. However, they lucked out, but for anyone reading this you must know the rules of engagement in your own state. In Colorado, unless you are in immediate danger and/or the person has two feet inside your home you really couldn’t do what they did and get away with it. They had options like keeping the house door locked and calling the police. I don’t know the laws in Minnesota so I am not making a judgement based on that but only warning those who don’t live there that if you did what they did in your state you could be in trouble.

  11. I dont know about all that sht. But I can tell you what’s pissing me off. Its all these gawd damn felons using the I cant do this and I cant do that ” cause I’m a felon” it’s an excuse to sit on your lazy ass and use the ” system fucked me,” card
    Yes you can get a job, dont go crying your jail house blues. Jesus HChrist now a felony puts a person on the government tit for the rest of their life,,,, Felon Disability checks, pass em around.
    Fellas, the America we knew is going bye bye.
    Lead us through the darkness Democrats. Yah sons a bitches

  12. Who said to walk out on your balcony and fire two blasts from your double barrel shotgun to scare off intruders/s. And something about nobody needing an assault weapon and/or ‘high capacity magazines’.

  13. Warning shots are fired at center mass of the threat until the threat is over. Anyone else who would attempt to attack you has been warned.

    • Yup! It’s like that old cartoon meme with the two military guys.

      “Fire a warning shot”
      “You shot him in the head!!!”
      “Yep, and now his buddies have been warned”

      • And you’re now down a round or two, which could be a problem. Especially if it’s cold and the bad guy has on heavy, multiple layers, or he’s hopped up on something like meth or PCP.

  14. I’ve honestly never understood the concept of a “warning shot”. You’re going to show someone how serious you are about shooting them by very deliberately not shooting them? What?

    Aside from the legal and ethical risks, I feel like if anything this would embolden an assailant by demonstrating that you’re hesitant to actually hurt them

  15. Gold Level Darwin Award, how clueless can a guy be? He ignored multiple commands to leave even after it was demonstrated that the gun backing up those commands was a loaded and functioning firearm. I think warning shots are a really dumb idea and this video clearly gives weight to not using them, since if they are ignoring a command to leave by a clearly armed person they are likely goi8ng to ignore a warning shot or four of them in this case. That lady would have been in trouble if her son hadn’t been there since she fired four of the five rounds that revolver likely contained.

  16. Anytime a criminal displays the willingness to enter an occupied home, that is a life threatening situation.

    Warning shots are stupid, obviously. But once made it becomes very clear that the intruder wasn’t behaving like a normal, reasonable person. The residents there have ZERO obligation to solve the intruder’s problems. The resident’s obligation is to protect themselves from a clear and obvious threat.

  17. A defensive display would have been more appropriate. Warning shots are dangerous and usually illegal. I feel they should have backed into their house and close the door. If he breaks inside, fire away. He was shot in the yard. They’re fortunate that they weren’t charged with a crime.


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