A Colorado teenager sneaking back into her own house in the middle of the night was shot and killed this week. To add to the tragic nature of an already sad case, police are now saying it was the teen's stepfather who shot her, thinking the 14-year-old was a burglar.
It's the sort of accident that punches you right in the gut as you grieve for a little girl whose life ended too soon and for a family torn apart by grief. It's the sort of accident that scares you because the moving parts, when put together, all add up to one that truly could happen to anyone.
After all when someone is coming into the house in the middle of the night, what conclusion do most of us jump to? Not that the your 14-year-old is sneaking back in but that someone dangerous is trying to get in at your family.
Reports indicate the teen was coming in a window, and a call went out to police of a burglary in progress between 5 and 6 a.m.
That early in the morning, there's a good chance, not all synapses are firing yet. We are particularly prone to making snap decisions as we work on pure adrenaline. The response most of us would have in a situation like this is to defend the family. Any way we can.
In Colorado, in fact, there is even a law designed to protect homeowners who defend their homes. The Make My Day law allows residents to fend off intruders with deadly force. The law is likely on this stepfather's side -- although the district attorney's office is reviewing the case and will have ultimate decision in whether charges are filed.
Whether or not they are, the fact remains that a 14-year-old is dead, and her stepfather will have to come to grips with the role he played in that death. This poor family has a lot to grieve right now, and pointing fingers isn't going to magically make that pain go away.
It's a tragedy ... and a tragedy we'd all be wise to ponder lest it happen in our own homes.
What would you do if you thought someone was sneaking into your home?
Image Alan Cleaver/Flickr