Almost a full decade ago, when I was in college, myself and my roommates rented a small house in a nice southern suburb. Our neighbors were generally older folks with a couple families living on the street. We all worked and went to school. Our idea of a ‘party’ was a couple of beers and a movie up on the projector in the backyard. In short: we were very, very boring people.
The house next door was rented by another group of college students about a year into our lease. We thought nothing of it. Our neighbors generally thought nothing of it because we were no trouble. We were three young men in our early twenties, responsible, and generally figured anyone else doing the same was probably of a similar mindset.
We were wrong.
The second weekend after the new neighbors moved in, they threw a house warming party. A lot of cars were parked on the front lawn and clogging up both sides of the street but I didn’t pay too much mind. I left to work a catering gig and my other roommate went to go spend the night with his girlfriend. For the purposes of this article, we’ll call my roommates Travis and Bill.
Travis was an Army veteran. I was a Marine Corps veteran. And Bill was just a good ole boy from rural North Carolina. Travis had the girlfriend and I had the two part-time jobs. Bill was a farm-boy and about four years younger than me or Travis. Bill, however, had a bad habit. His one bad habit was he liked to ‘call it like he sees it’. I called it not shutting his mouth.
Bill is the roommate we left at home.
Working as a caterer on the weekends, I typically came home at two to three in the morning. Covered in sweat, food waste, and grease, I was genuinely uninterested that I came home to an utter train wreck on my street. I could care less that there were shady looking dudes sneaking behind a neighbor’s shed. I didn’t even care when a fight broke out on the front lawn of my neighbor’s house and one of the hoodies, after getting his butt handed to him, started screaming about “getting his piece”.
Not my problem. I’m exhausted.
However, when I walked into the house and heard the sound of glass smashing, I was forced to pay attention. This was in my early days as a concealed carrier. I carried a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard revolver with a red laser. It was neither fun to shoot nor pleasant but it was easy to carry. And, to be perfectly honest, I had never seen a reason to pull it out. Entering into my home to the sound of yelling and stuff smashing, I realized I could be walking into a bad situation. It got even more complicated when I heard a girl’s voice start screaming, too.
What the heck was happening in my home?
Bill. Bill’s home, I thought.
I open the door to find the door to Bill’s room kicked open. There was yelling. One voice was a man I didn’t recognize. Another one was a woman I didn’t recognize. And the last one was Bill. I called out, “Bill, you okay?”
And that’s when I saw a dude walk out of Bill’s room. He was about a head taller than me, about my age. If he had come for the party across the street, he probably had a few. He definitely seemed to be rather angry about something.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“The ****s it to you?” he replied.
It was about this time he seemed to come to his senses that he had a revolver pointing at him. He even looked down at his own chest to see where the red laser dot rested.
“I need you to leave,” I informed him.
Bill opened the busted door to his bedroom and looked out at me. I could see one of his eyes was swollen shut. Something bad must’ve happened. Then I saw a girl’s head peaking out through the door. The dude looked back at the girl and then at me.
“I ain’t goin’ anywhere.”
“You’re right. You’re going to stand right there and wait until the police arrive.”
He took a step forward and I started depressing the double-action trigger on the Bodyguard. Something must’ve changed in him because instead of taking that next step, he spun around. He started yelling at the girl, yelling at Bill, but he kept in basically the same spot. I could tell he probably had some drinks. And, from the looks of it, I could guess that something happened between Bill and his girl that he didn’t particularly like.
None of those things were my problem. Right now, he’s an uninvited intruder in my home. He assaulted my roommate and damaged the house. He definitely posed a risk to himself, my roommate, this girl, and myself. I told Bill to call 9-1-1. At first, the guy said a bunch of mean, crappy things not worth repeating, and then tried to plead with me, saying he would “just leave”. I held him at gunpoint, as calmly as I could, and just kept repeating that he needed to keep still until police arrived.
It took thirty minutes for the city police to arrive. Bill had told the operator that I had the guy at gunpoint. The first police officer was initially confused as to which house the problem occurred because our neighbor’s house had people hanging around outside. They scattered like cockroaches when the cops showed up but the second officer figured out it was the other house — my house. He called out and identified himself. I told him my situation — I had a guy who broke into my home at gunpoint.
The police took the situation extremely seriously. The second police officer entered the living room first, his gun drawn, and saw where I was standing. He told me to lower my gun and I complied. The first officer came in after him and had me walk into the kitchen. He took temporary custody of the revolver and asked me immediate questions such as: who else was in the home, are there any drugs he should know about, etc.
The second officer had the intruder lay on the ground, face first, and he cuffed him.
More officers arrived. A sheriff’s deputy arrived. An ambulance and a fire truck arrived. It was a whole lot of fun that I was just aching to experience after a long night of working. Both myself and my roommate ended up going down to the police station and giving our statements on what happened. I considered getting an attorney but, being in college, I was much too broke to consider it. Knowing what I know now, I should have.
Because the intruder in the home gave a somewhat truthful testimony, the police concluded that I had every right to be in my home whereas the other guy did not. Not only that, he definitely damaged the property and assaulted my roommate. Lost in this article is the fact I had to go back down to that police station two to three more times for follow-up interviews. Each time, I was certain some charge would come up or they would suddenly decide I was guilty of something. Each time I left absolutely clueless as to where I stood in terms of whether or not what I did was lawful.
Eventually, the desk police officer told me that, “at this present time, no charges are being filed.”
That’s the best I got. No ‘good jobs’, no ‘thank you’, no ‘you’re a scumbag.’
They didn’t talk about what happened to the guy who broke into our home other than he would be charged. He got out on bail and then I had to spent the next eight months wondering if some random guy I held at gunpoint would try to take revenge. My roommate got a restraining order — something we ragged on him at the time but, honestly, was a real smart move.
The guy who broke into our home and beat up my roommate ended up taking a plea deal so neither of us had to show up in court to testify.
My next door neighbors, only a month after the event itself, got evicted from the house. Our neighbors collectively gave a sigh of relief but they were now cautious around us because I used a gun to defend myself. It took probably about six months before our immediate next door neighbors would wave or talk again. I felt somehow like I had done something wrong. And there was absolutely no one to pat me on the back or tell me I did something right or wrong. It was a very independent act — the act of self-defense. I never had to pull the trigger. I was never arrested. I was treated decently by law enforcement.
I also had pretty much every good factor on my side. I hadn’t had a drink. I didn’t do drugs. I had no prior charges. I was clearly in my own home and the person in my home was clearly someone intent on violence. He somewhat complied with my request. I didn’t have to use deadly force to protect myself. I communicated clearly with police and complied with their requests.
I was incredibly lucky, in other words.
If any of those factors had been off — the story would have ended much differently.
These are things you need to think about when you think holding someone at gun point is a good idea.