[Audio] No charges for homeowner who pistol-whipped alleged thief, shot gun twice; Humboldt’s last week of news

In the latest episode of Humboldt Last Week: Late last year an elderly homeowner in Eureka allegedly caught a man stealing things in his backyard. So the homeowner took out a gun, headed outside, and repeatedly pistol-whipped the alleged thief bloody. The homeowner’s gun accidentally went off twice and fortunately nobody was hit by a bullet. The thief was then arrested and the homeowner was also cited for assault and discharging the firearm, his gun taken as evidence. After that the case was forwarded to the District Attorney’s office.

“After review of the investigation, I did not file any charges (against the homeowner) and notified (him) of that decision,” said Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming.

When word got out about this case of course there were different viewpoints in the community. From one perspective there was applause for the homeowner for protecting his property and teaching this alleged thief a lesson. On the other side there was no applause noting the homeowner’s neighbors could have been hit by one of his stray bullets — that you can shoot a gun to defend your life, but not to defend your property.

When reached for comment, the Eureka Police Department put questions in the hands of Captain Brian Stephens. There was no reply by the release of the podcast but if that changes this post will be updated.

The story begins at 11:21.

Also covered: EPD says the five-block trail of blood in Old Town was due to a guy who apparently decided to punch a window, dumb criminals, more Public Defender drama, construction where that building burned down in Fortuna, Ferndale’s’ new celebrity at a historic music venue, satellite images of the Eel River six months apart, weed behind K-Mart, tablets at the jail, tow-truck trouble, proposed illegal-drug safe-zones, an HSU alum’s NFL update, Hugh Jackman, tragedy surrounding an HSU student, Gonsea’s reopens, and more.

  • Laytonville Rock


  • I think the man that beat the thief had every right to do so

  • Did he get his gun back?

  • Note to home owner, keep finger off trigger while pistol whipping.

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      Exactly right. Finger outside the trigger guard accept when shooting is immediate. The dude was very marginal in gun safety, but I honor his defense against thieves and applaud DA Fleming for her decision.

      Dude should get his gun back with a firm but gentle admonition as to gun safety. About time for thieves to get their karma, but be careful, folks.

  • Best news that has been reported about crime for awhile. If more people could catch and beat ’em, it might make a difference. Great job by the victim !!!

  • Wow EPD, really charging the home owner with assault. No wonder no one has faith in this department. I find it funny how the home owner was given a worse charge than the person who was caught stealing. What the hell is wrong with this situation. And people wonder why the theifs in this county are getting more brasent.

  • (1)Homeowner repeatedly pistol whips bad guy (2) Homeowner discharges weapon (3) Bad guy defends himself (which he can do), gains control of weapon (4) Shoots homeowner, now what? If you have a gun, you should use it to de-escalate the situation, not do more harm.

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      We’ll see how you feel when some POS ransacks YOUR place. Thing is, I’m supposed to wait to see if deranged tweaker in my house wants to kill me or not. Funny, by the time he kills me, it’s too late. If the invader is dead, the situation is, by definition, “de-escalated”. Good luck, you’ll need it. Judged by 12 or carried by 6. Your call.

      • I would never kill someone for stealing my stuff. There was no home invasion here. I think his gumption was, I don’t know, commendable, but the old guy is lucky he didn’t get blasted.

        Call 911 and let the progessionals handle it. Like you said, what’s better be a hero to some or carried by 6?

        • This call the cops crap is the problem.we didn’t have thrives when they were afraid of getting caught and executed. Now you bring cops and they feel safe to Rob and steal

  • For purposes of the self-defense legal defense, “reasonable under the circumstances” means that you need to have:

    Reasonably believed that you were in imminent danger of being killed, injured, or touched unlawfully,
    Reasonably believed that you needed to use force to prevent that from happening, and
    Used no more force than was necessary to prevent that from happening.

    It seems odd, but the law actually would have been in favor of the theif, had he defended himself and killed the old man.

    I guess it does make sense though, if you think about it for a second, since nobody deserves to die because they stole a lawnmower or something else that is easily replaceable.

    The elderly homeowner got lucky.

    • I hate this argument. No one deserves to have their property stolen or the security of their home violated. No one deserves to feel the fear of seeing a criminal in their backyard or in their home, not knowing the intentions of that person. A lawnmower may be easily replaceable (but why should someone have to, when they already spent their hard earned money on one), but that peace of mind and security you have in your own home is not.

      We spend so much time worried about the criminals in this society, that we no longer care about the victims. It’s almost as though the people who work hard and obtain their possessions legally are the criminals, and the people who “have” to break in and steal for their drug addictions are the victims. How messed up is that?

      So no, someone shouldn’t have to die over a stolen lawnmower… and the easiest way to avoid that is to not try and steal a lawnmower. But if an innocent person is scared for their life and their well-being (and for many protecting their property is their well-being), and they shoot you while you try to steal something that belongs to them, you and only you are the person who created that situation, and are 100% responsible for the situation.

      The only thing wrong the homeowner did was unintentionally discharging his firearm, which should be a citation. However since we don’t hold people accountable for their actions, perhaps a taxpayer class on properly and safely pistol-whipping criminals would be better than charging him with a crime?

      • Gun in one hand to get their attention,baseball bat in other to subdue untill police decide to show up…Problem solved!

      • I agree with you 100% couldn’t have put it better myself, all the people who whine obviously have never been victimized on there own property by a stranger who could be a vicious murderer, or drug addict out of there mind, or just some duche taking there stuff, either way if something happens to them it’s THEIR own fuckin fault. No one should ever be charged for protecting their home. people have a lot to learn before things can get better and it starts with people being held accountable for there actions,

      • So by your logic John, if you see someone driving in a reckless manner, you should be able to pull out a gun and blast them, because you’re scared for your and others lives and well being, where do you draw the line?

        And again, we’re not talking about a home invasion. This was a thief taking advantage of a target of opportunity that wasn’t under lock and key. Lock your stuff up, its common sense.

        If you think your crap and your pride as a hard worker is worth more than a human life, I’m probably not going to change your mind.

        • Marc, so you’re really going to put your trust in a thief that is trespassing on your property that they won’t do any other harm? You sure got some rose colored shades on, good luck with that.

          • Red Meh, like I said, if they try and come into your home, then you can do whatever you want. Fire at will, beat them to death with a bed post, whatever.

            But more often than not, an indicator of some sort that lets the prowler know they have been discovered, like a light coming on or yelling at them, is enough to send them running.

            No rose colored glasses here, just common sense.

  • This is what folks have to do now!! You BREAK into my home again,and it’s golf club for you!!🏌

  • If the robber had a gun, the homeowner would be dead. Glad it turned out in favor.

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      The robber was a young man with obviously strong hands. The home-owner was elderly. Strong people strangle weak people somewhere every day with bare hands. All these specious rationales about un-armed rip-off a-hole are absurd. As has been mentioned, the homeowner did not know if Young Punk was armed but but he was certainly “armed” and “handed.”

      These kinds of ridiculous defenses for trespass and thievery are one reason why we have increasingly bullshit gun laws in California.

    • If the robber had a gun, the homeowner would have shot the guy.

  • Thinking allowed

    Alternate scenario-elderly man sees his things being stolen. Walks out unarmed to stop the thief. The thief shoves the old man out of the way and the old man hits his head on the concrete and is killed.

    Maybe the thief, now murderer, is caught and spends some time in jail (or not) but the old man’s tomb stone can read ‘He tried to follow the law.’ Thereby having the approval of some.

    • Your making my point for me Thinking Allowed. Thank you for that.

      Stay in your house, call 911. If they bust down your door blast away. Anything less than that, call State Farm in the morning and get a new weed whacker.

      Nothing you’re ever going to buy a wal-mart is worth your or any other life.

      • because no one would ever shoot through the windows? And 911 is always gets there just in time? get real

        • Come on Meh, When was the last time you heard about a bike theif shooting through Windows and killing someone? I mean it may have happened some time, somewhere, but?

          Let’s keep the scenario realistic.

      • Thinking allowed

        So you assume that someone who has already displayed no respect will not proceed from the garage to the house at will? I have come home to find someone in my house. I left by the back door and called the police. They asked me whether he was threatening me. I said no. They did not come ever. Of course if I had been killed they would be happy to investigate. For months I was worried about him showing up again.

        According to you he deserved protection from me while you have nothing in mind to protect me from him. You phrase it as no one deserves to die for stealing a lawn mower but conveniently ignore the idea that no one deserves die because he goes out to tell the sleaze to stop as he has a perfect right to do.

        So keep making non points all you like. Far more people are killed by criminals in their house than criminals are killed by victims. Monday morning quarterbacking asserting safely non involved judgements that other people have no right judge their own security is painfully simplistic.

        It leads to public insecurity and criminal security simultaneously. That is the wonderful result of your philosophy.

  • I have never agreed with the law stating a homeowner can not use deadly force to protect one’s own property. Of course, in limp-dick California it is the law. Shoot first and ask questions later would send a message to those would-be burglars to not be on someone’s property uninvited. And everyone wonders why there is so much crime in the streets.

    • You think there’s crime in the streets because you can’t shoot people because you feel violated? Ok.

      I’m sure you’re a real life taker and heart breaker, but chances are you’d be dead if we could shoot first and ask questions later. He’ll most of us probably would be.

      • If you or I were in someone’s house uninvited, then getting shot by the owner would be a consequence that we both would probably deserve. Crime in the streets would be somewhat less because the perpetrators would not be around to trespass on anyone else’s property.

        • Thinking allowed, reading is also allowed. I’ve made my position clear; If they’re in your home, all bets are off get mid evil on them. If they’re stealing your crap, preserve life. Yours and theirs.

        • Again, bigblok, specific to this story, nobody was in anybody else’s house.

          If they come into your house uninvited, with bad intentions, they should go out in a plastic bag.

          Just don’t kill people over stuff. That’s what homeowners and renters insurance is for.

          • No one got killed here Marc. A no good thief got a well deserved beat down and most likely scared straight. The homeowner didn’t get hurt nor stolen from. Its a win win!

  • We’ve worked all our lives,and still working 7days a week. Now I ask you why do we work so hard to pay our bills,eat take care of our family’s to have some asshole think they have the right to steal what WE WORKED for,on OUR property WE pay for from WORKING everyday WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO PROTECT OUR SELFS AND PROPERTY it doesn’t say how. I would never want to shoot anybody,but if you break in again…..

  • What’s with all this pistol whipping? I want to see a good old fashion rifle whipping

  • ShallNotBeInfringed

    Times are changing, bail money is rising, and victims can stand ground with the 2nd amendment.
    Lets get the criminal element out already. Its been way to long.
    Good job all around!

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