Part 1: Backstory and The Event
This is an article about the experience, aftermath, and lessons learned from a home invasion that I experienced. I feel strongly that retelling it provides some important lessons and food for thought for anyone who keeps a gun for self-defense.
It was a weekend late afternoon and I was in my computer room at my house, working on e-mails and generally perusing the Internet. I had headphones on so I was unable to hear anything going on around me. The only other people in the house were my girlfriend who was cleaning the upstairs. My computer room faces onto my covered front porch.
At some point, I felt some vibrations in the floor that usually indicated someone was walking around on my front porch. I peeked outside through the blinds and saw a man standing on my porch, turning as to leave. Apparently, he had come up on the porch, rang the bell, and I didn’t hear it.
He had a sort of hippie-ish look to him…thick-rimmed eyeglasses, an orange ski cap, dark beard, holding a paper cup of coffee, and was carrying what we have come to call a ‘man purse’. I assumed that he was collecting signatures or something for one of the public-interest groups that are in this town.
I took off my headphones and headed to the front door.
A few details are important to add at this point, for what is about to happen.
Years earlier, I had installed a series of security cameras around the outside of my house. All approaches, entry points, and intersections of travel have a camera covering them. The feed is on a computer monitor in my living room and all video is recorded but sound is not.
I normally carry a Glock with me but I had been spending a ‘lazy day’ at home and was not wearing my pistol.
Next to my front door, to the left as you stand in the door facing outside, there is a small nightstand where, among other things, I keep a Glock 27 with Crimson Trace grips for those times I have to answer the door. The gun sits in a drawer, in a holster, ready to use.
Back to the story…
By the time I got to my front door, the guy has walked off my porch, down the steps, and was standing on the sidewalk that ran in front of my house. I opened the front door, opened the screen door, stuck my head out and asked “Hey, what can I do for you?” He turned and started walking up the walkway to the steps, smiling and saying “Hey, this is a nice place. This place is nice.” He started up the steps to my porch and when he got to the top step I stuck my hand out in a ‘halt’ fashion and said “Hey buddy, do me a favor and don’t come any closer.” He turned 180-degrees from me, turning his back to me, and walked backwards towards me as he seemingly checked behind him to see if anyone was around or watching.
At this point my usual level of caution has bumped into a previously unknown level. Usually, when I tell someone not to come any closer, or to step back from the door, they do it and that’s that. Not this time. I pulled the screen door shut as he turned towards it, put his coffee down, and grabbed the screen door handle to try and pull it open. As he’s tugging the door handle trying to pull it open, I’m pulling the handle trying to keep the door shut. He starts yelling “Let me in! Let me in!” and then starts throwing punches through the screen, trying to grab the door handle from the inside. After the first punch, he starts yelling “Hail Satan!”
I’m holding the door shut with my right hand, and I realize that this is a situation that has gone well beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. Becoming a victim of a violent encounter is no longer a theory, it’s happening. While holding the door shut with my right hand, I grab the drawer handle of the nightstand with my left. I yank the drawer open so hard that it completely clears the nightstand and hits the floor. I lean down and scoop up the pistol with my left hand. A problem immediately occurs – the pistol is in a holster. I need two hands to get the gun out of the holster. This means I need to take my right hand off the screen door handle in order to grab the gun out of the holster, which is held in my left hand. But, if I let go of the door handle, then The Bad Guy will simply be able to yank the door open and come into the house. With him punching his way through the screen and clearly being unhinged, I feel there isn’t much of a choice.
I let go of the screen door handle and yank the pistol out of the holster that I’m holding in my left hand. As I do this I start stepping backwards away from the door to buy myself time to get the gun out of the holster. The Bad Guy pulls the door open and advances into the house. He starts coming towards me as I’m fading back into my living room. At no point we’re we ever more than three or four feet apart. When the gun clears the holster, and I’m backpedaling, I discard the holster and bring the gun up to a two-handed low ready position. There’s no time to tell him to stay back, and if he sees the gun he gives no indication of it. He continues lunging towards me. There’s no time to bring the gun up out of the low ready, there’s no time to use the sights, and the distance is so close that there’s no real need for the laser. We’re close enough that we could reach out and touch each other…which is something I did not want. The last thing I wanted was to get into a clinch with this guy, us rolling around on my living room floor fighting over a pistol.
There’s a moment of hesitation as the thought comes into my head that, once I pull the trigger, my life is never, ever going to be the same. The thought that, somehow, I might get into huge legal trouble also runs through my head. All of these thoughts occur simultaneously in the blink of an eye. I pull the trigger once, he crumples forward, still coming towards me, and almost immediately I follow up with two more shots…pop, pause, pop, pop. He hits the floor at my feet, rolls onto his side, gives a wheezing gasp, and is still. The entire episode of him coming through the door to being on the floor was, at most, four seconds.
I’m standing over him, pistol in a two-hand grip, still pointed at him, when my girlfriend comes running down the stairs. The front door is open, there’s a cloud of gunsmoke in the air, and I’m standing over this guy pointing my pistol at him, the laser visible in the smoke. I tell her to grab my phone and call 911. I also tell her to grab her phone and take a picture of the scene…just in case.
I get 911 on the phone and the first thing I tell them is to send an ambulance. (I had the presence of mind to ask for the ambulance first so I could later point out that, clearly, my first concern was for the person on my living room floor.) Then I told them to send the cops, and that someone had tried to break into my house and I shot them. The dispatcher asks if the guy is still breathing. I tell her I have absolutely no intention of getting close enough to find out. She tells me exactly what I expected: Cops are on the way, put the gun away, go out and meet them with your hands up. No surprise.
I put the gun on the table, and head outside to meet the cops. As it turns out, this happened just at shift change so pretty much every cop from both shifts showed up. A total of 14 police cars. As I expected, I had to walk out of the house with my hands up and they searched me before telling me to just stand by the car while they cleared the place. They let me call my boss and I told her I was probably not going to be at work the next day.
Eventually, I was taken to the police station, and the girlfriend was taken separately as well, and we were put in separate interrogation rooms.
(To be continued in Part 2.)