Bearing Arms reported yesterday on the story of Tom Greer, the 80-year-old Long Beach man attacked by burglars in his home. Greer unwisely told a media outlet how he shot and killed one of the two retreating burglars:
“I come back and they see me with a gun, and they run,” he said.
The man escaped, but the woman fell after being struck by Greer’s gunfire in an alley behind the house.
“She says, ‘Don’t shoot me, I’m pregnant! I’m going to have a baby!’ And I shot her anyway,” Greer said.
When asked what he saw happen to the woman after he fired shots, Greer responded: “She was dead. I shot her twice, she best be dead … (The man) had run off and left her.”
“I’ve never in my life shot anybody, killed anybody,” Greer said.
Greer was being treated at the hospital Wednesday for a severe shoulder and collarbone injury, but he hoped to send a warning to the man who got away.
“I shot her so that’s going to leave a message on his mind for the rest of his life,” Greer said.
The dead female burglar has since been identified as 28-year-old Andrea Miller. She was not obviously pregnant, but will checked for pregnancy during her autopsy.
The male burglar that escaped Mr. Greer and left his companion behind has been arrested and named… and charged with her murder under the felony murder rule:
…the surviving suspect, Gus Adams, 26, has been arrested on suspicion of residential burglary and murder, McDonnell said. The murder charge is possible because he is accused of being involved in a felony that led to a death, the chief said. He was being held on bail just over $1 million, and police did not know if he had hired an attorney.
Both Miller and Adams, who had histories of similar crimes, were unarmed, McDonnell said.
Greer had been burglarized three times before and believed the same suspects were responsible.
Prosecutors are still reviewing evidence and have not determined whether they will charge Mr. Greer, and the fact that Greer used an under-powered revolver may weigh in his favor in terms of the evidence collected.
Greer engaged the burglars with his .22LR Smith & Wesson revolver both inside (which we didn’t know yesterday) and outside his home in the alley where Miller fell and died.
Revolvers retain the expended cartridges within the cylinder until manually unloaded, so investigators don’t have expended cartridges ejected from the gun (typical of most other kinds of firearms that have fired multiple rounds) to determine roughly where shots were fired.
.22LR bullets fired from a handgun also typically leaves small entrance wounds that don’t bleed a great deal, and which often don’t exit the body due to the lack of penetrating power for a round designed to be fired from a rifle. Greer claims that he hit Miller with shots fired in the alley, but to be honest, he can’t know for sure. Even much larger caliber bullets (centerfire pistol and even centerfire rifle) don’t leave the “Hollywood” spray of blood we’ve come to expect from movies and television entrance wounds, and the shooting happened late at night, where there was little visibility. There may be no blood trail of any kind, and only a limited amount of blood where Miller fell, if there was even blood there at all (it’s quite possible that Miller’s bleeding was primarily internal).
And so this is where things get very interesting.
[Continues on next page]
If authorities cannot conclusively determine whether Miller was hit from shots inside the house (where Greer absolutely has the protection of self-defense laws, even in California) or the shots fired in the alley, then prosecuting Greer might be very difficult, despite his unguarded (and frankly stupid) comments to the media that amount to a confession of where he thinks he was when he fired the shots that hit Miller.
The prosecution has to know that a competent defense attorney has built-in reasonable doubt due to the fact that it is almost impossible to know when Miller was located when she was hit, only where she went down. Prosecutors also have to know that an outspoken old man defending him home against a pair of career criminals who attacked him violently enough to break his collarbone is going to be very sympathetic to a jury.
At this point, based on the evidence we now know, I think it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars to charge Mr. Greer, despite an outlandish confession which may or may not be entirely accurate.