A Texas man who pulled a rifle on four teens in a car and held them at gunpoint because he thought they looked suspicious seems surprised that he’s being charged.
A Converse man who used his AR-15 rifle to detain four men he thought were going to burglarize his neighbor’s home last month now finds himself on the wrong side of the law.
Coty Bob McDonnell, 31, made his initial appearance Monday on a charge of deadly conduct, a misdemeanor, but the case was reset for next month.
Converse police arrested McDonnell on the night of Oct. 22 or early Oct. 23 after he detained the men, believing they were burglars, according to an account provided by his neighbor, Doug Stearns, and his lawyer, Daniel De La Garza.
Charging him might have a chilling effect on Texans who want to protect their property, they argued. McDonnell himself declined comment, citing the pending case.
Texas law gives some leeway to persons who believe they have been asked to protect the property of a third party, allowing the use of deadly force to prevent theft or criminal mischief, but the circumstances of McDonnell’s case differed considerably when described by police and his neighbor.
Converse police say McDonnell went too far when he chased the four down the street and blocked their way out with his vehicle. The four were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, but not burglary. They told officers they were on their way to a party, according to a police report.
“These kids just stopped in the roadway to change drivers,” said Assistant Chief Rex Rheiner. “He pursued them, and when he pursued them down the road is when he left the realm of protection of property.
“He pointed the weapon at them,” Rheiner added. “He was out there acting as a police officer, when he has no police powers.”
McDonnell wasn’t the first person to run afoul of the law for misunderstanding what he is and isn’t allowed to do with a firearm, and he certainly won’t be the last.
He pulled a weapon on the teens for driving with their lights off, stopping, and then possibly setting foot on someone’s driveway. While their behavior was suspicious, they had committed no crimes, not even trespassing. McDonnell pulled a gun on them for what he thought they might do, and that is clearly unacceptable.