ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA — An early morning break-in of a parked car lead to a homeowner responding with deadly force. The alleged thief was heard breaking into a vehicle parked in downtown Asheville. The homeowner told police he was attacked before he shot the thief.
Asheville police alongside Bunscombe County deputies responded to the scene. According to WYFF News, Asheville police discovered a discarded gun near where the alleged thief was shot. This would corroborate the homeowner’s story whereby he feared for his life after confronting the suspect.
In most cases, police recommend staying in a safe place and calling authorities to respond to a break-in. This is usually recommended because outright conflict can be avoided.
Using this scene, we’ll recreate why that’s a good idea.
A man is in his home and hears the crunch of glass coming from outside. He peeks out the window. It’s 4:30 a.m. in March. That means it’s dark outside. It’s hard to see clearly. Hearing the sounds of someone rustling through his vehicle or perhaps seeing a flashlight illuminating sections of the interior of his car, he naturally would like to preserve his vehicle and anything inside of it. He grabs a gun and heads outside, thinking he can scare off the thief.
In the real life version of this story, according to testimony at the scene relayed to Asheville police, he encounters the thief and the thief attacks. Because the homeowner is armed, he shoots. The man is hit. He flees the scene. Police discover him a little while later with a gunshot wound and take him to the hospital for treatment. Police also discover a firearm discarded at the scene.
The man waits around for police and gives his limited side of the story.
Now, this scenario played out well enough considering the constraints.
Let’s go through two hypothetical situations:
A.) Suspect is unarmed when the crime commences and discovers a loaded firearm inside the vehicle.
B.) Suspect is armed when he begins the crime.
In scenario A, the suspect is now armed. When the man comes out to investigate the disturbance, not only is he hindered by low light conditions, he is potentially facing a man armed with his own gun.
In that scenario, if the bad guy is so inclined, he could use the homeowner’s lack of situational awareness to his advantage and open fire.
That’s not what happened. He apparently tried to attack him. If he had tried to shoot, the police would have certainly included that in their statement. So, this thief was willing to engage the homeowner at close range using little more than what he had in his hands. That’s a bad situation.
In scenario B, the suspect is already armed. If we’re talking about a seasoned, repeat offender, he knows that if he’s caught by police while he’s in possession of a gun, he’ll get immediately charged with more time. If he discovers a gun while he’s breaking in, that’s just an added bonus.
So the thief in scenario B has a gun. He smashes in a window and starts rooting around. Homeowner opens the door and heads out into the early morning darkness to figure out what is causing the disturbance. The thief has a clear drop on him because he’s already armed and knows how to use the firearm already in his possession.
We’re discounting this criminal being an absolute violent idiot versus being just an absolute idiot. In scenario A, if the criminal gets shot it’s likely because either the gun wasn’t loaded or he didn’t know how to use it. In scenario B, there’s even less of a likely chance he doesn’t know how to use the gun in his possession.
No matter which scenario it is, that homeowner would have been better off staying in the house and calling police. For the average gun owner out there, heading out into the darkness while you have the opportunity to stay put and stay safe is not wise. Thankfully, it worked out for this homeowner. If that WAS his gun that police recovered at the scene, he isn’t getting it back any time soon. It’s now in the evidence locker. At least it’s not in the hands of a criminal.