Woman shoots neighbor through her front door?

samzheresamzhere BannedPosts: 10,923 Senior Member
Here's a difficult situation, one we've debated here before. It really happened, with tragic circumstances.

A woman, living alone, was frightened late at night by a noise outside her front door. She saw a man there who was apparently trying to get in. She armed herself and called him to get away. When he continued to try to gain entry, she fired through the door, killing him.

Turns out the man was her next door neighbor who had returned from a night out with pals in a cab.

Speculation was that he was drunk and may have thought he was returning home. The story doesn't say if the two houses had similar designs.

This case will likely be sent to the grand jury without charges from the county attorney, and the gj will likely nobill the woman, ruling the death an accidental homicide.

It's very likely that the woman acted with "good intentions" and thought the neighbor was an intruder. Being alone and fearing for her life, she therefore acted legally with respect to Texas Castle Doctrine law. However this is still a difficult situation in that she, of course, has inadvertently killed her neighbor.

We've talked about this exact situation, whether it's a good idea to use lethal force and fire through a front door. My opinion is that it depends on the scenario. Here, a woman alone and late night, I'd say she acted properly, regardless of the tragic consequences.

Your thoughts? Here's the news story:

http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/kingwood/article/Porter-homeowner-fatally-shoots-neighbor-believed-5326991.php?cmpid=hpts

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
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Replies

  • pjames777pjames777 Senior Member Posts: 1,078 Senior Member
    Hey she was only following the terrific advice of V.P. Biden.....get a shotgun and blow a hole thru your front door!

    Sad situation....
  • alphasigmookiealphasigmookie Senior Member Posts: 8,743 Senior Member
    I don't think I'd ever fire a gun through my front door. Once someone took the first step inside my front door that's a different story. Frankly though as a society I think we're starting to get a bit over paranoid and assuming everyone is out to get us. Yes, sometimes there are people who are, and we have to remain vigilant, but it shouldn't necessarily always be our first reaction. There are just far, far too many of these stories cropping up and almost all of them hurt our case as responsible gun owners.
    "Finding out that you have run out of toilet paper is a good example of lack of preparation, buying 10 years worth is silly"
    -DoctorWho
  • bobbyrlf3bobbyrlf3 Senior Member Posts: 2,467 Senior Member
    I would not fire through my door. There are other options at that point.
    Knowledge is essential to living freely and fully; understanding gives knowledge purpose and strength; wisdom is combining the two and applying them appropriately in words and actions.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 21,855 Senior Member
    Yep I agree, I would never fire through my door. I'd stand back and call the police. If the guy would have broken in then maybe the lead would fly;

    But I'm not going to Monday morning quarterback I'm just saying what I think I'd do. She was no doubt scared clueless and just reacted the only way she knew how at the moment.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • pardogpardog Member Posts: 423 Member
    I would not fire through the door. I understand she was scared, but she should not have fired. As long as the door was shut and locked she was not in danger. Now, if he had gotten in, drunk and mistaken or not it's a different situation. I've mentioned a similar situation that happened a couple of months ago to me. I yelled through the door and the drunk continued to try to enter. I would have shot if he had, but realistically, he was not getting through the front door and deadbolt by trying to turn the knob and push.
  • shootbrownelkshootbrownelk Senior Member Posts: 2,025 Senior Member
    pjames777 wrote: »
    Hey she was only following the terrific advice of V.P. Biden.....get a shotgun and blow a hole thru your front door!

    Sad situation....

    Sad indeed to take Biden's advice, it's bad news for pizza delivery guys & paperboys in Biden's neighborhood.
  • pjames777pjames777 Senior Member Posts: 1,078 Senior Member
    Yeah she was probably scared and who knows, maybe in her excitement the shotgun discharged without her intention.....horrible either way.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    I don't think I'd ever fire a gun through my front door. Once someone took the first step inside my front door that's a different story.

    That's pretty much how I feel, too.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    Personally, I wouldn't.
    Im guessing if a man had done this, there would be charges.

    Very likely elsewhere, but in Texas, their application of Castle Doctrine is quite broad. There have been numerous cases where the homeowner fired through a window or door and killed someone outside (peeping tom maybe) and no charges were filed.

    I however agree that for me, I'd not do so regardless of the law -- inside my domicile however, the rules change. Maybe if they were forcing the door?

    Incidentally, I've had occasions when someone indeed did knock on my door late night. I armed myself and then asked "Who is it?" Once it was a strange guy, once it was my neighbor who was putting a note on my doorknob about a party. So it pays to be cautious but overreaction is fraught with problems.

    However, in the specific case I posted, the woman was alone, fearful, and called for the guy to go away, which he did not. In this case, although her shooting him was unfortunate, it was also understandable under the circumstances, and legally justified.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Added news about the shooting...

    The man (a Houston firefighter and former Marine) had been drinking to celebrate St.Pats and the cab he took home let him off in front of the neighbor's house.

    On the news, they showed both houses, and they are similar in layout although not identical tract homes.

    Police have reported that the woman yelled a warning and that she was armed but the man still tried to gain entry to her house. The police have stated this was an unintentional killing and there will likely be no charges proffered.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 6,533 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »

    The man (a Houston firefighter and former Marine) had been drinking to celebrate St.Pats and the cab he took home let him off in front of the neighbor's house.

    Police have reported that the woman yelled a warning and that she was armed but the man still tried to gain entry to her house
    .

    Good for her.

    You get so hammered you stop acting like a human, don't expect to get treated like one.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • horselipshorselips Senior Member Posts: 3,626 Senior Member
    I'm sick and tired of hearing about the pratfalls of wayward drunks. He was warned. End of story.
    What's a 64 year old woman alone supposed to do? What if there were more than one guy out there? What if he or them were armed? Is she supposed to allow them to break in and then and only then try to shoot it out with them? Nonsense. Once the door is breached, an assailant can cover the whole length of a good sized room in a second or two - not much time for a senior citizen to react effectively. Especially if, like most people her age, she enjoys the dual delights of arthritis and declining eyesight. SORRY, the very nature of the lady - her age and so forth - mitigates for her pre-emptive strike.
    It's not like she's a danger to society - she doesn't go around blasting suspicious people just because. This case was a perfect storm of errors -the guy getting drunk in public to begin with, so drunk he ended up going to the wrong house and not knowing it, scaring a nice little ol' lady out of her mind, and getting blown away for his trouble. Poo-poo happens.
    Who knows what would have happened if he had gotten passed the door - not recognizing the lady, he might have thought her to be a burglar in his own home and attacked her. Wouldn't that have been a mess.
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 15,220 Senior Member
    I see it as a negligent homicide. Her life was not in danger until he got through that door. Yes, you should never be so drunk that you can't find your own house, but still. What if it was someone with Alzheimer's? What if some was in desperate need of help? Should we shoot them through the door too?
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 18,845 Senior Member
    Jermanator wrote: »
    Should we shoot them through the door too?
    That's what crazy "uncle joe" bye-den told us to do

    Edited to add:
    V.P. BIDEN: Well, the way in which we measure it is—I think most scholars would say—is that as long as you have a weapon sufficient to be able to provide your self-defense. I did one of these town-hall meetings on the Internet and one guy said, “Well, what happens when the end days come? What happens when there’s the earthquake? I live in California, and I have to protect myself.”

    I said, “Well, you know, my shotgun will do better for you than your AR-15, because you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.” Most people can handle a shotgun a hell of a lot better than they can a semiautomatic weapon in terms of both their aim and in terms of their ability to deter people coming.
    from this interview with Field & Stream
    http://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/guns/2013/02/gun-control-joe-biden-interview
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • horselipshorselips Senior Member Posts: 3,626 Senior Member
    Jermanator wrote: »
    What if some was in desperate need of help? Should we shoot them through the door too?

    Depends on who "we" are. If "we're" a 64 year old woman, facing someone trying to break into her house, and who ignores warnings to stop, then yes, "we" should shoot them.
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 15,220 Senior Member
    knitepoet wrote: »
    That's what crazy "uncle joe" bye-den told us to do
    I was taught to not take advice from idiots.
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 15,220 Senior Member
    horselips wrote: »
    Depends on who "we" are. If "we're" a 64 year old woman, facing someone trying to break into her house, and who ignores warnings to stop, then yes, "we" should shoot them.
    Same age as my mother. But my mom has common sense and wouldn't shoot through the door.
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 7,041 Senior Member
    Exterior doors are heavy, expensive, and difficult to replace. Door frames are considerably easier to redo in comparison. Let them force entry first - the remodeling is cheaper and the paperwork has significantly fewer gray areas.

    Seriously though, the purpose of a door is to keep the outside out. Unless the intentions have been clearly telegraphed with the means of defeating it (axes, Molotov cocktails, etc...) this is the time to let the door do its job and lhunker down with the 12 gauge to wait for the cavalry.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • Dr. dbDr. db Senior Member Posts: 1,541 Senior Member
    1. Bad guy and neighbor are not mutually exclusive.
    2. Be sure of your target and beyond. Can't do that shooting through a door. So no no no.
    3. Don't you know guns are evil and dangerous? They must be banned. Remember the leftist press agenda summarized in a quote from Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us."
    4. Finally how could Unca Joe be wrong? Oh! I know. The gun did it. He, being the nice guy that he is, just didn't know how bad guns are.
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 6,533 Senior Member
    Bigslug wrote: »
    Exterior doors are heavy, expensive, and difficult to replace. Door frames are considerably easier to redo in comparison. Let them force entry first - the remodeling is cheaper and the paperwork has significantly fewer gray areas.

    Seriously though, the purpose of a door is to keep the outside out. Unless the intentions have been clearly telegraphed with the means of defeating it (axes, Molotov cocktails, etc...) this is the time to let the door do its job and lhunker down with the 12 gauge to wait for the cavalry.
    Told to stop, told she was armed, continued to try to get in.
    The woman told authorities she was alone in her brick home in the 20600 block of Youpon Lane when she heard a noise about 9:30 p.m. and saw the figure of a man through her opaque glass door.

    She said she ordered the man to leave, telling him she was armed and would shoot if he kept trying to come in.

    She claims the man ignored her warning and continued trying to open the door
    Unless one was to open the door how would anyone know if the means were there. If the means were there, say, like the guy had feet or a coat since it is a GLASS door, then it is ok?
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Please 'splain the "feet or a coat" thing again? It whizzed right over my head. Thanks.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • LMLarsenLMLarsen Senior Member Posts: 8,337 Senior Member
    Concur with not shooting thru the door. I was trained to identify the target before firing.
    “A gun is a tool, no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”

    NRA Endowment Member
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 9,729 Senior Member
    A similar, yet with a crucial difference, case happened in Austin about a year or so ago. I can't dig up the news links right now, but here is what I remember:
    A father goes and gets his daughter from a gang member's home
    Gang member vows revenge
    Gang member comes to the home with his gang and starts hammering on the door, demanding the daughter
    Father calls cops, retrieves gun
    Cops en route, gang member yelling threats through the door. Says he is coming in to kill the father and whole family.
    Gang member starts kicking on the door.
    Father opens fire through the door, hits 2 gang members- killing one.
    Father is sent to Grand Jury, charged with manslaughter, and finally cleared of charges.

    Not going to second guess anyone who fears for their life. However, in my suspected attempted home invasion... when there were two people outside at 1:AM, one hammering on my door, and the other one hidden out of sight from the door and waiting for me.... I did not open fire. But I was scared poo-less while it was happening
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • Farm Boy DeuceFarm Boy Deuce Senior Member Posts: 6,083 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    Please 'splain the "feet or a coat" thing again? It whizzed right over my head. Thanks.

    Feet to kick the door open or break the glass. A coat to wrap around your hand and to allow you to punch through the glass and minimize the risk of getting cut.
    I am afraid we forget sometime that the basic and simple things brings us the most pleasure.
    Dad 5-31-13
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 6,533 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    Please 'splain the "feet or a coat" thing again? It whizzed right over my head. Thanks.

    Glass door....
    means to break it down....
    boot.....
    coat over fist...
    :that:
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    LMLarsen wrote: »
    Concur with not shooting thru the door. I was trained to identify the target before firing.

    Agree. One of those essential four rules of firearm safety, "Know your target and what's behind it".

    Under the circumstances of this incident, however, this will go down as an unfortunate tragedy but no real blame affixed to the woman.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • BufordBuford Senior Member Posts: 6,660 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    Agree. One of those essential four rules of firearm safety, "Know your target and what's behind it".

    Under the circumstances of this incident, however, this will go down as an unfortunate tragedy but no real blame affixed to the woman.

    Shooting thru a secured door is OK. Why not shoot when they enter the yard. I looked at him and I feared for my life so I had to kill him. I need to rent an apartment in Texas and invite a couple of acquaintances down for a visit.
    Just look at the flowers Lizzie, just look at the flowers.
  • JeeperJeeper Senior Member Posts: 2,952 Senior Member
    It's a shame, and probably in MOST cases he wouldn't have been shot (I almost definitely wouldn't have shot him unless he broke through the door), but in this case he just happened to pick the wrong door. In any event it's NOT the fault of the woman that this happened. If you go get so freakin drunk that you can't even find your own house, then whatever happens to you is YOUR fault.

    It's not like she kills whoever wanders onto her porch on a regular basis.... if that were the case, I'd see this in a different light.

    Luis
    Wielding the Hammer of Thor first requires you to lift and carry the Hammer of Thor. - Bigslug
  • horselipshorselips Senior Member Posts: 3,626 Senior Member
    Buford wrote: »
    Shooting thru a secured door is OK. Why not shoot when they enter the yard. I looked at him and I feared for my life so I had to kill him. I need to rent an apartment in Texas and invite a couple of acquaintances down for a visit.

    Just entering the yard is a far cry from trying to break into the house, as was the situation in this case.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Buford wrote: »
    Shooting thru a secured door is OK. Why not shoot when they enter the yard. I looked at him and I feared for my life so I had to kill him. I need to rent an apartment in Texas and invite a couple of acquaintances down for a visit.

    C'mon on down!

    This isn't the first time someone has fired through a door or window at someone outside whom they thought was a threat, as you know. Whether the county attorney or police feel they need to proffer charges is, of course, situational and not cast in stone.

    There have also, of course, been cases where the person was outside on the person's property (in the front yard maybe) and were shot. That stretches the case of Castle Doctrine and is asking for homicide charges. But it's always situational and subject to the vagaries of the exact circumstances.

    btw, if you choose to become a lowly apartment dweller as I am, my "property" does not extend into the common areas outside the apartment. Fact being that guests and residents of other apartments have free access to the walkways and such removes this area from my personal Castle jurisdiction. The law would therefore take a very dim view were I to shoot someone standing outside my front door who wasn't trying to break in. And just for the sake of trying to be on the safe side of things, I'd not do that shooting through the door at all, but wait till the person gained at least partial entry. Then of course it's my home, same as if I owned a house.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
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