Arkansas Homeowner Shoots Burglar Shotgun Warning Shot Todd Byrnes Defensive Gun Use DGU
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Forty-seven-year-old Todd Burns is alive, though recovering from emergency surgery, because the person whose garage he broke into was kind (or foolish) enough to fire a warning shot.

Around 3:00am on Thursday morning, Burns and a female companion were driving through a quiet Arkansas neighborhood looking for (according to the woman) “free camping” in the area. Running low on gas, Burns got out of the truck and decided to sneak into a stranger’s garage, saying, “I’m going to go steal some gas from one of these farmers.”

Here’s the “farmhouse” he picked:

Arkansas Homeowner Shoots Burglar Shotgun Warning Shot Todd Byrnes

Considering the prevalence of gun ownership in rural Arkansas, it’s mildly interesting that Burns didn’t seem concerned about getting shot.

Upon hearing his garage alarm, the home owner investigated, shotgun in hand. Burns was still there when he arrived. The two men fought before the home owner broke free and fired a warning shot, giving Burns a chance to retreat relatively peacefully.

At that point, Burns began running, but it wasn’t clear where he was going – the home owner thought he was heading toward the front door of the house. That’s when he fired a second shot, this one in Burns’ direction.

Bleeding from the head, Burns ran back to his truck, but again, the tank was almost empty. The pair stopped less than a mile from the site of the home invasion and the woman called 9-1-1, saying she was with a man who had just been shot in the head. When police arrived, Burns was rushed to a hospital. Three loaded guns, as well as a knife, were found in the truck.

Burns was released from the hospital straight into the Crawford County Detention Center, where he’s now being held. The woman he was with has been questioned but has not been arrested or charged with any crime.


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    • The homeowner must have loaded the shotgun with birdshot. The home invader probably wouldn’t have fared so well with buckshot in his head. Hopefully life lessons were learned.
      1. Thou shall not steal
      2. Home invasion is a bad idea
      3. Buckshot not buckshot for defense

      • I think the old “load your shotgun with birdshot” line for home defense was possibly the single dumbest trend among the gun world back in the day. Thank God that old trope has for the most part been killed off. Note to any new shooters reading this: birdshot is for the birds. Period.

  1. Warning shots are NEVER a good idea. If you believe your life is in danger (the only time you are allowed to shoot someone), you should shoot to kill. Warning shots are effectively stating that you do NOT believe your life is in danger and you are just warning someone. My warning shot will be aimed squarely at the perpetrator.

    • Red,

      Friendly reminder:

      If you believe your life is in danger (the only time you are allowed to shoot someone), you should shoot to stop the threat (the only reason you are allowed to shoot someone).

      Many prosecutors will pursue criminal charges against a defender whose intent was “shoot to kill”.

      • Mere semantics, but yes… we never say “I shot to kill” in a defensive scenario.
        The better phrase is, “I shot to stop him” or “I was in fear for my life” or something similar.
        And for heaven’s sake, if you DO drop him, wherever he lands, inside the house or not – DO NOT TOUCH THE BODY. So help me, I still get ignoramuses in my shop giving such bad “advice” to other customers… thus forcing me to wait for the twit to get bored and leave so I can set the unwitting recipient of bad legal advice straight.

      • Absolutely, you always, “ALWAYS” shoot to stop the threat. Should the threat assume room temp, or become DRT, too damn bad, but you have “stopped” the threat.

    • What are you talking about? This was a text book home defense shotgun use….. Just ask Joe Biden. /sarc/

    • No warning shots: Be tried by 12 then carried by 6 early is not just something we say. Farmer is blessed he’s alive. Intruder had loaded firearms in his ride. Farmer gave warning shot, bad idea. Not all intruders will be as dumb as this one was. Most anymore are armed. You gonna have a shotgun for home defense, don’t close distance with an intruder to struggle with them. If they are in garage like this one stop, listen first. Don’t go opening door to garage think your not gonna get tackled with your firearm in hand. All situations are different when it comes to criminals. When they say only buy one firearm, we say buy 2 there’s a reason for it. Shotgun & hand gun because of situation like this one. Don’t take chances struggling with an intruder.

  2. And all this time I thought shotguns were devastating and their wounds always non-survivable.

    Of course if you have a cylinder choke, #7 birdshot loads, and shoot the attacker 20 yards away, those tiny pellets in that huge pattern will rarely (if ever) prove fatal to a reasonably fit adult male.

    • Thats a favorite line of Homiced Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda who is fun to watch because he does not pull any punches.

      His advice on how not to be murdred;
      1) do not take drugs, sell drugs or associate with those who do.

      2) Do not be coming out of bars at closing time because nothing good happens after midnight.

      3) Do not marry a pyscopath.

      That’ is how you avoid being murdered.

      And although the producers of his TV series like shootings they’re dramatic he says most murders do not feature gun, most shootings are suicudes and he has seen people murderef with everything you can think of except nuclear weapons.

  3. He had three guns in his vehicle. Was he a Prohibited Person? Why was his getaway driver not also charged?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    • I was wondering that myself. About the gal in the ride. When he said he was going to go steal gas from a farmer & she knew what he was up too. Camping? Really, with what if had to steal gas from a farmer. Camping ain’t cheap or free anymore. Sounds like these 2 were up to no good to begin with. Makes me wonder how many other folks in farmers & others places they might have stole from on the road to their camping trip. If those loaded firearms are actually his in that ride, let alone anything else in the ride. He broke into someone house, the garage is attached that’s part of the house. She knew & should be charged as an accessory to the crime. You ride with trouble, expect trouble.

  4. How is it that the ‘chick’/getaway driver is *never* charged with anything? Was she not an accessory to this criminal dumpster fire?

    Did she whip-out the Magic Jedi Ta-Tas?

    • Females are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. They don’t do bad things unless some nasty male makes them. Nasty males are responsible for all evil in society.

    • Just more of that “male privilege” they keep talking about.

      1) the privilege to do more time than ladies for same crime.
      2) Privilege to get shot by cops vastly more often then women.
      3) Privilege to die 7 years earlier.

      Oh how fortunate i feel.

  5. My warning shot is a red or green dot on your person. After that, any movement not commanded will command said color to turn permanently red and liquid.

  6. Pretty sure that if this guy was polite and respectful, he MIGHT have been able to just bum a gallon or two, instead of getting shot for attempted theft. Granted, I’m curious what exactly they were doing at 3:00 am with several guns and a knife in the car, but I’ll give him the benefit of doubt. If you just try to take something, chances are you’ll get a worse reaction than if you just politely ask for it.

  7. My 12 gauge wall-leaner is loaded with 00 buck, cruiser ready. I’m thinking about changing the first shell to #8 shot as a warning device delivered center mass or to the BG’s face, with buckshot to follow if the warning isn’t heeded.

    I’m not opposed to blowing up a home invader if necessary, but c’mon — have you ever tried to clean brains out of a carpet?

    • ‘First it cleans the mess it made off my floors. Then it gets the ambulance.’

      • Ooooooh, I heard that in that ‘Silence of the Lambs’ voice.

        “It puts the lotion onto its body…”

    • ^use “Brainaway”.
      Does a great job.
      And… most politicians start the day with a big bowl of it !!

    • You’re making the assumption that you’re going to be able to get off a second shot. I urge you to reconsider this.

    • Where I am, the results of a gunshot wound are considered Hazardous Waste, and must he handled as such by a company certified to handle such. At the homeowner’s expense (I have USAA, and their homeowner’s insurance will handle the cost).
      I have three 2.75″ #4 buckshot shells in my 500 as “warning shots,” and then four 3″ #4 buckshot shells in case the perp disregards the “warning shots.”

    • Bingo. But I would take it a step further. “Officer, I feared for my life and the life of my family. As a precaution, I am going to have my lawyer present when answering questions.”

  8. Decent outcome all around, but just reading the description it sounds like the homeowner did a few things wrong:

    1. Armed with a shotgun, he advanced on (or allowed perp t close distance on him) to within contact/grappling distance. Why? The whole purpose of the shotgun is standoff distance. Command the perp to stop where he is and get on the ground, or whatever (if you just want him to run away, for later capture by the cops, that’s okay too.) If the perp comes at you, shoot center mass. But if he flees, let him go.
    2. Don’t fire warning shots. Just don’t. As noted above, the only way you are entitled to employ deadly force is if you’re facing a lethal threat – and firing a warning shot implies that you didn’t feel sufficiently threatened to shoot the perp.

    • Warning shots here in Phoenix are illegal. You are allowed to shoot at a perp (if legally necessary), but not allowed to shoot somewhere else.
      So, the first shot must be to stop the threat.
      Verbal warnings are still allowed.

  9. This report seems a bit odd. Others have educated me that a shotgun is the only, guaranteed, one shot one stop gun for self-defense; softball hole going in, watermellon sized hole exiting. Or maybe it was that the shot spread will clear a room, and destroy everything (everyone) in it.

    Somebody holding back sumpin.

    • *Sigh* are we bored and wanting to go all drama queen today?

    • “softball hole going in, watermellon[sic] sized hole exiting.”
      I think you are confused.
      That’s what a .45 does.

      “the shot spread will clear a room, and destroy everything (everyone) in it.”
      That’s what a shotgun does.

  10. No, I do not.

    There may, however, be misapprehension on your part. Have another look at what I wrote.

  11. I’ve never understood how firing a warning shot could imply your “not in fear for your life” Seems to me, it would reinforce that belief.

    But I also will obey the illogical logic as it will more likely keep me out of prison for the sin of not getting killed by the gang banger.

    • Courts do not deal in logic or interestingly, truth. It is all about what a jury can be convinced to believe. A good after-action strategy is to be prepared for that nonsense. For example, take as much training as you can on use of force and read a lot of books about it, because your attorney cannot present anything in your defense that you cannot prove you knew before the incident.

  12. Actually Old timers had it right when they loaded rock salt, it keeps on giving until it dissolves, hard to scrub out and incapacitates for a period of time, usually non lethal unless shot in face! Brother got caught with farmers wife, couldn’t run fast enough got a load in buttocks, back and legs, hospital scrubbed it out with a stiff brush, hurrah
    Bird shot is less than lethal unless close, a hundred BB’s are harder to clean out than a lethal Buckshot load!
    plus less likely lethal consequences if you miss

  13. Warning shots are a very bad idea. People can and have been charged with assault for doing just that .Forget the advice Joe Biden gave a few years back,someone followed that advice and was charged with assault and unlawful discharge of a fire arm.

  14. never fire a warning shot, if this goes to court the lawyer will turn this shooting around……shoot to kill the first time, you don’t know if this criminal has a gun or not, if you wound him he can then kill you. shoot to kill this criminal the first time.


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