A New Hampshire grandfather has been arrested and is facing a possible prison sentence for firing a shot into the ground and holding a burglar at gunpoint until the cops could arrive. Dennis Fleming, 61, came home on Saturday night to discover that his home had been robbed. He saw the burglar, Joseph Hebert, 27, climbing out of his neighbor’s window. Mr. Fleming yelled, “Freeze!” and fired a shot into the ground before holding the crook at gunpoint.
When the police arrived, they arrested Hebert, but instead of a big old “thank you” and a slap on the back for Fleming, he got arrested too, on a charge of reckless conduct.
Yes, you read that right: A grandfather of 14 was arrested for not letting a criminal escape. What was he supposed to do -- hold him down? Then they probably would have arrested him for assault and battery. Besides, we are talking about a 61-year-old man versus a 27-year-old man. Fleming did the math on that one himself. He told FoxNews:
I didn’t think I could handle this guy physically, so I fired into the ground. He stopped. He knew I was serious. I was angry ... and I was worried that this guy was going to come after me.
The police also seized Fleming’s collection of firearms including seven rifles and a .38-caliber handgun. Just in case any other bad guys out there get it in their minds to rob an unarmed house, keep in mind that Fleming still has his Louisville Slugger.
Vigilantes can be dangerous, and people should not take the law into their own hands. But that’s not what happened here. The police were called and were on their way. Unfortunately, teleportation hasn’t become a reliable source of transportation quite yet, so the cops were not able to spontaneously appear out of thin air to arrest Hebert. Fleming did what he had to do to keep the younger man from escaping and/or harming him. By breaking-and-entering at least two homes, Hebert had already proved that he doesn’t play by the rules. I doubt he would’ve waited around to be arrested just because Fleming said, “Pretty please.”
Americans should have the right to protect their personal property. It’s a keystone to an ordered society. What happens when crooks know that people are unable to defend themselves? Penny Dean of Gun Owners of New Hampshire says, "The fact that this man would be charged is an outrage. Burglars in New Hampshire must know it's open season, since homeowners cannot defend themselves, as evidenced by this case. This is charging the victim."
Here’s to hoping County Attorney Tom Veladi shows some common sense when he reviews this case. People should not have to worry about getting arrested or going to jail for self-defense or for protecting their personal property.
Image via mikejmartelli/Flickr