Police in Johnston County, North Carolina are investigating a Father’s Day shooting involving an armed dad and a 23-year-old who allegedly “accosted” an 11-year-old girl before trying to gain entry into the family’s home.
Authorities were called out the scene of a breaking and entering in the small town of Wilson’s Mills around 9 p.m. on Sunday evening, and when they arrived they discovered the body of the 23-year-old at the home, along with the armed homeowner.
Chief A.Z. Williams said, based on the preliminary investigation, the suspect entered the backyard of the home where children were playing outside. The suspect allegedly tried to accost an 11 year-old girl. Other children ran inside the home and alerted the mother and father.
Police said the suspect attempted to follow the children into the residence by pulling on the back door handle and shaking it violently.
The homeowner and father shot the 23 year-old suspect who died from his injuries. The name of the suspect is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
Chief Williams said this appears to be a case of a father protecting his family. The suspect was unknown to the family.
It’s pretty crazy that in a town of less than 3,000 people the suspect was completely unknown to the family, but according to police there doesn’t appear to be any connection or previous history between the 23-year-old and the family who was apparently targeted.
While the investigation continues, the father isn’t currently facing charges, and based on the comment by the Wilson’s Mills police chief it sounds like authorities believe this to be a justifiable use of force in defense of his family.
I’m sure this is not the quite Father’s Day that the armed homeowner was anticipating, and Chief Williams says this is one of the first violent incidents that he’s seen in his five years with the Wilson’s Mills police. It sounds like this is normally a pretty quiet and peaceful place, or at least it was until the 23-year-old walked in to the backyard of the home where the three kids were playing and tried to put his hands on that young girl.
Even then, the armed dad didn’t run outside to confront the man who accosted his daughter. It sounds like if the 23-year-old had wandered off into the gloaming instead of trying to enter the home he’d be alive today, though he might have been in police custody. Based on the public statements by Williams, this wasn’t a case of vigilantism, but of self-defense. A strange man shows up in the yard where kids are playing, tries to grab one of them, and then when the kids run inside tries to gain entry to the home himself. Only then did the homeowner fire the fatal shot; not out of malice or rage, but to prevent the stranger from coming inside and possibly harming the kids and/or the homeowner himself.
Obviously an investigation could uncover additional details, but Williams sounds pretty confident that investigators have the full story, at least from the armed citizen’s perspective. I’m sure authorities will be interviewing the suspect’s friends and family to try to determine what he may have been up to, and will be looking at the coroner’s report to see if the 23-year-old was under the influence of any drugs or alcohol when he made his escalating series of bad decisions. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for any updates to this incident, including what might have motivated the suspect here, but for the time being this appears to be a justified use of force by a father trying to protect his kids from the danger at their back door.