Safety and Training

Gun Fights are Dangerous — Even if You Win

News reporter on the scene

An armed resident and an intruder were both killed. The intruder was killed by the homeowner. The homeowner was killed by a responding officer. Read the following account of what happened. The details are sparse, but the commentary regarding the dos and don’ts in the comment section should be revealing.

It’s about 1:30 a.m. The police have responded to an intruder call. As the police arrive on the scene, they hear gunshots. Fearing for the safety of the home’s occupants, the police rush in and encounter a man holding gun. The police shoot the man with the gun. In doing so, the homeowner, who had just shot the intruder, is shot and killed by the responding officer.

The investigation of whether the officer’s actions were justified is fodder for another place time. We simply do not have enough details, and I have no wish to foster a bunch of comments to bash those who run to, not from, the 911 calls. Nonetheless, this could be most any of us. Maybe you did everything right, perhaps not.

After all, the police shot the homeowner in his own house. Stress levels were high. The officer may not have properly identified himself. In the heat of the moment, adrenaline flowing, the homeowner may have panicked and leveled his gun at the responding officers after they identified themselves. We just don’t know, and there is little benefit to debating the right or wrong actions of those involved without complete details. However, that does not mean that this cannot be a catalyst for a learning moment.

Don’t Get Mistaken for the Bad Guy

You awake to a crash and people yelling. You realize an intruder is in your house. You hear a family member scream and gunshots. Fearing for your safety and that of your loved ones, you move to confront the intruder.

Your neighbors also heard the shots and screams and called the police who, unbeknownst to you, are only one block away. You see the intruder coming down the hall, alone. You confront him and are forced to shoot and kill him as the police pull up to the house

What happens next?

This is your chance to write the story and share your knowledge with readers of The Shooter’s Log. Provide your answer in the comment section.

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Comments (58)

  1. Never wast your time calling the cops till the threat is over. Then call police and put your weapon away. Do not talk to 911 other to inform them that a intruder that was going to kill you is dead. Hang up and wait for the police. Only tell police you feared for your life and don’t say anything else. Talk to a lawyer before you answer any questions.

    1. Excellent advise Randy. That is the same advise I received way back from multiple department officer’s when I inquired on the subject. I support that approach and I support everyone’s right to defend hearth and home and family and self but cops today are so afraid for their own lives and have (it seems from conversations) far less training and of course are largely from the age group of me, me, me and always me, so be prepared for anything.

    2. I disagree with hanging up with the 911 operator. I tell my students to stay on the phone with the operator, she is in contact with the responding officer. Describe yourself and what you are wearing so she can relay that to the responding officer. Inform them if you feel another threat may be present and that you are still armed. Tell them where you are in the house and remain behind cover if you feel a threat still exists. Tell the 911 operator exactly what is going on. Do not discuss what happened only that you shot someone because you felt your life was in danger. The conversation past that should be to help the responding officer safely locate you and avoid you being shot by mistake.

  2. Guns a blazzing, Someone sure did screw up in this case. Im not changing my plan of action.
    “Pick up my gun, call 991”. But never say you picked up the gun first. Tell 911 your getting your gun, that makes a record that you called authorities first. Im in Tennessee so my next move is identify the threat and shoot the bast…uh intruder that just came through my locked door or window. I have home security so my back up is in place.

  3. Guns a blazzing, Someone sure did screw up in this case. Im not changing my plan of action.
    “Pick up my gun, call 991”. But never say you picked up the gun first. Tell 911 your getting your gun, that makes a record that you called authorities first. Im in Tennessee so my next move is identify the threat and shoot the bastard that just came through my locked door or window. I have home security so my back up is in place.

  4. This has to be a “Perfect Storm” scenario. First of all, gunshots at 1:30 AM has neighbors springing to their phones to call 911?

    Unless we’re talking emptying a magazine, a few shots will wake up the neighbors who will spend the next ten minutes deciding whether or not they heard gunshots or a car backfiring. In that time, no one has turned on the lights or called 911 themselves? Shock could paralyze the shooter, but everyone in the house?

    These days, Police are being trained to stop active shooters,
    but assuming no shooting is taking place when Police arrive, would the first responder bust through the door guns blazing?

    I’m not saying it could never happen, but for all these factors to fall into place as described is very unlikely.

    1. Car backfiring? Seriously? When is the last time anyone heard a car backfire? Oh wait…watching reruns of Columbo. Yup, was that a gun or the neighbor watching TV? People today just love being first and calling 911 is a knee jerk reaction.

  5. I am at lost of some of the comment here, put the gun down, raise your hand, and all not very smart comments.
    When you call 911 the first thing is to give your description to the dispatcher so they’re related to the cup, second make sure you secure yourself in area where the cop cannot shot you, and try to identify yourself.
    This is like another incident when a lady unarmed got killed.
    In situation like this cop is not your friend but a deadly threat,
    He is a killer with license, so protect yourself till u r sure he is aware of your identity, still never face him with gun in your hand.

    1. Aaah the perfict world. Hello, 911? Yes, im 5′ 10″ tall, weight 195, brown hair and eyes, 65 years old, tattoo on my right arm that says “GOD IS ACID”, I have a S&W model 586 .357 cal. Im about to confrount a perp in my house. Tell the police augh aaaaa HEEEELP he got my gun!!!!

  6. A few additional facts have been made public: in the 911 call, both the perp and the homeowner were described (one white, one black); the policeman who did the shooting had killed another person only 30 days prior to this incident.
    To agree with another writer, the homeowner had just fired a gun in close quarters and his hearing was undoubtedly affected. He probably didn’t hear the police officer; also, he was undoubtedly in a daze as to what had happened/what he’d done, and was still trying to comprehend it all.
    The policeman rushed into the house, and shot the first person he saw, who didn’t follow his instructions, but it also appears that this particular officer is trigger-happy and both ignored the information provided in the 911 call (i.e., that the homeowner was a white male and the perp was a black male). the officer also apparently did not asses the situation professionally and a) went in alone and b) did not take into consideration what had just happened in the home. Was this a lack of training, forgetting, an adrenaline rush or simply being trigger-happy? Obviously, this officer should have been re-evaluated regarding his training since his shooting only 30 days prior. Just as obviously, he should not have gone into the home alone, nor over- reacted as he did. As a result, a totally innocent – and inexperienced (who isn’t?) homeowner was killed by too-quick of a police response.
    Already, the Aurora police chief has absolved his officer of any wrong-doing. Wow. That quickly. And this, in a jurisdiction where the prosecutor – not the police – determine whether deadly force/personal protection is justified or not. In the past, both Aurora and Denver prosecutors – both liberals – have taken homeowners/licensed personal carry individuals to court and required them to prove their innocence. And the innocent are stuck with the costs of defending themselves against such anti-2nd Amendment people. This is a very sad case of a policeman being poorly trained and too quick to judge. I love our police, firemen – they all deserve our support and assistance, and they’re all severely underpaid. I respect anyone who has to put on a bullet-proof vest and a gun, just to go to work. But in this instance, the officer should be severely reprimanded, re-trained, and put on unarmed (desk?) duty until he’s had ample opportunity to review his actions. My heartfelt sympathy to the homeowner who lost his life defending his granddaughter. .

  7. It might help to know, at 1:30 am, what was the homeowner wearing, PJ’s underwear, shorts or nothing? Looking at and seeing the man are two different things.

  8. I think a lot more facts need to come out on this event before commenting on it directly — though I agree with several of the comments that have already been made.

    Yet there are a few things going through my head that haven’t been mentioned yet:

    1) How did the police manage to arrive before/as the shooting was occurring? (having worked as a dispatcher through college, I’m well away that even after the police are called they aren’t going to arrive at the scene instantaneously)

    2) What was the homeowner’s situation/mindset? I know that due to my own situation and the nature of potential home invaders I could face (e.g. history of using of false flag tactics) it’s predisposed me to respond in a (potentially) lethal manner to anyone unrecognized coming into my home uninvited — no matter what they are wearing — and especially if they have a weapon (of any kind) in hand

    ……which is something that absolutely terrifies me (and is one of the many reasons why my doors are generally locked even when I am home).

    So yeah, I think there are a lot more facts that need to come out before any significant analysis of this incident can occur. Though it may serve as an inducement to think a bit more rigorously about our own situations and responses.

  9. How many of you that gave the text book response have been in an actual gun fight? Used your weapon on a person? Been a LEO that has?

    I really appreciate OldGringos post. Thank you! Our police are put in very difficult situations and roasted for any mistake. I would like to think they are superhuman, but they make mistakes. In my mind, this is one more argument to address compensation. We want moderately to poorly paid, and at times respected, people to perform flawlessly across a variety of difficult scenarios. As a free society I would think we would value them more than that…

    1. That is all bs. That officer should be at the very least be tried for man slaughter. Doctors are held accountable for their mistakes. I am held accountable for mine. All officers know that this is a potential problem before they take the job as well as the pay rate. When you except extreme responsibility you must be beyond reproach with methods, procedures and tactics. This officer failed in several ways resulting in a civilian death. A jury of his peers should decide his fate, this should not be allowed to be dimissed beaurocracts. Please don’t get me wrong I am a very strong supporter of law enforcement and my brother in law is a LEO. I am also a strong constitutional 2A supporter. But please explain to me why a trained professional officer has less accountability than any citizen of this country.

  10. First off my heart goes out to the home owner that got killed just making his house safe. Now if someone is in my house and I haft to kill them make sure you put one in his head then he’s done look for a gun or weapons then go around the house yelling come out to make sure no more bad guys are in the house but the yelling will help someone else like cops coming to help or a Nabor it called sounding off be loud let everyone know we’re you are and one the house is cleared then you secure your gun once again my heart gos out the the family of the home owner that was killed

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