If a burglar breaks into someone’s home and the homeowner shoots them, it is typically viewed as a “good shoot” in most jurisdictions.*
But what does the law say when neighbors watching over an empty home answer a burglar alarm and shoot a burglar in a vacant house? A couple in Channelview, Texas, is about to find out:
The burglar alarms went off at 2am in the 300 block of Lakeside Drive. Harris County Sheriff detectives say the family who owned the home had recently moved out of state. The couple next door were watching over their friends’ empty home when the alarm went off.
Detectives say the couple grabbed their guns, and went next door.
“Both of the homeowners had their conceal and carry license, armed themselves, went next door to the house and check to see if there were any burglars in the house,” said Sgt. Ben Beall of the Harris County Sheriffs Department.
Sgt. Beall says the couple found the burglary suspect locked in a bathroom of their friend’s home. They announced that they had guns, and tried to open the bathroom door. When they opened the bathroom door, the suspect allegedly rushed at the homeowners.
“He knocked the female into some of the furniture, both the homeowners discharged their weapons, striking the male. The male was able to get to the backyard, where he collapsed,” said Sgt. Beall.
The suspect died as a result of gun shots from one or both neighbors.
As a general rule, the law tends to view human life as being more valuable than material things. The law also tends to take a dim view of people who escalate a non-life-threatening situation into a deadly force encounter.
In this instance, the neighbors knew that the family had moved out-of-state and that there wasn’t anyone inside the home that was at risk from the burglar. The proper thing to do was to call 911, and let the police handle the burglary call. They tell you as much in most concealed carry classes, and both of the neighbors had taken and passed Texas’s concealed carry class. Instead of following the law and their training, they went “hunting” for the burglar and created the deadly force encounter.
The investigation into the shooting is underway and the case will be presented to a grand jury. The couple could be charged with manslaughter or even murder for the killing of the burglar.
* Not necessarily valid in California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, or the District of Columbia