SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO — A caretaker of a piece of property opened fire on a trespasser after the trespasser pretended to be lost but returned after driving around for a bit. He notified the Sheriff’s office when he first encountered the vehicle but the man in the truck said he had just gotten lost and then stuck when he tried to turn around.
When the truck returned, however, the caretaker opened fire. He notified the Sheriff’s office after he shot the intruder. According to News Channel 10, the Sheriff’s office has not filed charges against the caretaker due to the circumstances surrounding the case and the caretaker previously reporting the suspicious activity.
The trespasser has not been interviewed yet due to being in critical condition in the hospital.
This is a great example of “gray area”. Not all bad guys are obvious in their actions. Imagine seeing a car pass by your house multiple times and then pull into your driveway and park. No one got out, the vehicle just sat there.
Now, some might just walk up and ask the person what he’s doing on the property. That’s what the caretaker initially appeared to do. And when the intruder responded he had just ‘got lost’ and then stuck when he tried to leave, that’s more than a little out-of-place.
But, it’s arguably a gray area in terms of action. Is it trespassing at this point? Arguably yes. However, there’s little else to go off of at this point. So the caretaker does the right thing — he calls it in to the police.
Once the police are notified, they know of the situation and now they’re abreast of anything should anything else happen. The Sheriff’s Office, in this case, couldn’t really do a whole lot because a person accidentally wandering onto another person’s property is bound to happen. Outside of charging the man with a misdemeanor of trespassing, there’s little else actionable.
Now, when that same vehicle returned back a second time, the caretaker took full custody of the situation. He decided that this person was clearly returning because he was a threat and intended harm. It was the early morning. There’s not a lot going on and it’s in a rural section of New Mexico. That’s ripe conditions for bad things to happen.
The caretaker, after previously notifying authorities and while obliging the laws of New Mexico, opened fire on the trespasser. Now, I wasn’t under the direct impression that this scenario would dictate an authorized use of deadly force. However, I’m not an attorney and apparently New Mexico’s laws governing self-defense are very much on a case-by-case basis. By factor of the Sheriff’s Office not pressing charges against the caretaker, those law enforcement officers must have deemed that the situation warranted the reaction. As such, this proves to be an excellent example of a gun owner handling a legal gray area and navigating it correctly by staying in contact with law enforcement.