Grandfather Gets Arrested for Holding Burglar at Gunpoint While Waiting for Police to Arrive

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gunA 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

crime, guns, human rights, in the news, law


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Loref... Lorefield

I'm not sure about the laws there, but where I live, you cannot hold someone at gunpoint or fire your weapon at them in that situation.

In order for the act to be lawful you must be acting in self defense, in defense of your OWN HOME, or in defense of someone else who is in imminent danger. 

The crook was not in his house, and was leaving the neighbor's house. No one was being threatened with a gun. 

He would have been arrested here.

Maevelyn Maevelyn

I still think that arresting him is not in the spirit of the law. How can we be good neighbors if we can't protect each other and our property. He didn't fire at the man or in the air he fired at the ground. He's obviously compentent. It's rediculous. In instances like this the police can not get there in time to prevent a crime. I guess he gets in trouble for not being a negative statistic. 

SueMN... SueMNanaMama

New Hampshire.  Isn't that the state where the motto is "Live Free or Die"?

Loref... Lorefield

Maevelyn, that's the thing though, he was not in danger of becoming a negative statistic. Neither his person, his property or another person were in danger at the time.

Had he caught the guy in his own house, yes. Had the robber pulled a gun on him or another person, yes. Also, don't forget! He was arrested and charged. He hasn't been convicted yet. It will be up to the judge to interpret the "spirit of the law". 

Kevin Scott Karsthuntr Davis

I think firing the weapon is what got him arrested. If he would of waited until the perp had rushed him then he wouldn't have been arrested. 

femal... femaleMIKE

cops don't like for people to do their job.

texas... texasmamma777

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.  The Constitution of the United States

texas... texasmamma777

Typical Democrat voter: "I’m way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves."

nonmember avatar ele4phant

It sounds like he was arrested for shooting his gun into the ground, which is illegal according to the laws of that particular jurisdiction. As a non-gun owner, I can't speak to if that's a valid safety issue or not, but it sounds like his arrest had less to do with him having and using his gun, but using it in a way that has been deemed to be unsafe. On a somewhat related tangent, IMO, have as guns as you want, but please safe and smart with them (and truthfully most gun owners I know are - but there are a few loose cannons). Guns don't kill people, but a gun owner's stupidity or lax on safety sadly sometimes does (and again, most gun owners I know are overwhelming super responsible, but it takes only one tragic slip-up).

prplecat prplecat

No one should fire a weapon unless they are in fear for their life.  A burglar trying to LEAVE your NEIGHBOR"S house doesn't fit the bill.  Sorry, Grandpa.  SHoulda shot him with the camera on his cell phone...him and his vehicle.

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