A residential burglar in North Carolina died after taking a shotgun blast to the chest in Catawba County. His accomplice, if caught, will likely face murder charges under the Tarheel State’s implementation of the felony murder rule.

Catawba County deputies said a man shot an intruder in his home north of Claremont on Monday.

The homeowner was asleep upstairs when he heard a noise downstairs, officials said. He grabbed a shotgun and went to investigate.

The sheriff said two men broke in through a basement window around the rear of the home.

His father, who lives just down the road, saw two men pull into his son’s driveway Monday morning but had no idea they were there to break-in to the residence.

“Two guys come out from the carport went around to the car parked around back,” father Everett Fox said.

The owner, who called 911 first, had gone there after hearing the sound of a door being kicked in.

Deputies said he shot one of the intruders in the chest who later died on the way to the hospital.

The homeowner is understandably distraught that he was forced to take a human life in his own home, which is entirely normal.

So, too, is the, “well, he asked for it,” attitude of neighbors and law enforcement towards the dead criminal.

“You do have a right to protect your property when somebody breaks in the house on you. You don’t know if these people are coming in to steal your property or coming in to do harm to you and your family,” said Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid.

Citizens have the right to feel safe and secure in their homes, and have had the legal right to defend their homes with lethal force since the days that “lethal force” was administered with sword and dagger.

* * *

You’ll note from the cited news article that the dead home invader survived the initial blast and lingered until EMS arrived, loaded him up, and began transporting him to the nearest hospital, and that he only died while in transport. This suggests that he was alive for at least 15 minutes (and probably closer to a half-hour) after taking a shotgun blast to the chest at close range.

Never assume that just because you shot someone and hit them in a vital area that they are immediately out of the fight.

I’d be willing to bet that the intruder was shot with field loads (#7.7 or #8 shot) common in the Carolinas as small game and dove hunting loads, and probably expired because he bled out from a relatively shallow fist-sized wound.

If you intend to keep a shotgun for in-home defense, please do a lot of research and listen to professionals with knowledge of how you use a shotgun in the very specialized realm of in home-defense. While larger buckshot sizes and slugs are excessive for in-home defense because will penetrate multiple sheetrock walls, while birdshot loads fire tiny pellets that lack the mass to consistently reach vital organs.

I do not claim to be an expert, but my own reading suggests that #2 goose loads probably does the best job of splitting the difference between overpenetration risks in common suburban building materials used in my area, while providing adequate depth penetration where the engagement distance is likely to be 20 feet or less.

Your own circumstances may vary, so plan accordingly.