A mother in Richland County, South Carolina was acting in defense of herself and her two children when she shot and killed a man who broke into her apartment early Sunday morning, according to the county sheriff. Officials haven't said if the woman knew her assailant or what might have motivated him to break through the door of her apartment around 5 a.m., but it didn't take them long to determine that the shooting was a justified use of force.
The woman claims she heard banging at the door to her residence that she shared with her two minor children. As she approached the door, the man gained entry into the apartment. The woman told deputies she retrieved a gun from her purse and asked the man to identify himself. He continued to approach the woman and at that time she shot and killed him. She called law enforcement immediately after this occurred.
Investigators say the woman was brought to headquarters for questioning and was released shortly after, when it was determined that she acted in self defense.
The fact that she asked the man who he was is a pretty good sign that he was a stranger to her, but that still doesn't explain his motivation for breaking into the apartment or why he was banging on the door beforehand.
From the perspective of law enforcement, however, his rationale for breaking into the home is largely irrelevant. He had no right to be there, unlike the resident, and under the state's Castle Doctrine, she was well within her rights to use deadly force once he'd made his way inside.
[a] person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in another place where he has a right to be, including, but not limited to, his place of business, has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or another person or to prevent the commission of a violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60.”
I'd say it's reasonable to believe that when someone breaks into your home they're not there to drop off the Sunday paper or deliver breakfast in bed, but have far more nefarious intentions. We don't have to know what was going through the suspect's mind when he made the fateful decision to forcibly enter the armed citizen's apartment. All that matters is whether or not the gun owner had a reasonable belief that her life and those of her kids were in danger, and I can't imagine that there are twelve people in all of South Carolina who would conclude that the woman committed a crime when shooting an intruder in her own home.
Thankfully, everyone who was allowed to be in the apartment was unscathed in the encounter with the intruder, which might not have been the case if she wasn't ready and able to immediately respond to the threat when it presented itself. I hope we'll eventually learn more about why the suspect chose this woman's apartment for his early morning home invasion, but I'm relieved for her sake that it didn't take law enforcement long at all to conclude that the only person to commit a crime in her apartment was the assailant who was shot after his illegal entry.