Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 30
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    south western PA, Pennsylvania
    (Allegheny County)
    Posts
    3,491
    Rep Power
    9762081

    Default Was it self-defense or firearms offense?

    This is crazy, another crime victim is now charged with a crime, yet another state that needs a castle doctrine.

    Two police reports and no suspects, yet the law is going to come down hard on the victim.


    http://www.boston.com/news/local/mas...ffense?mode=PF

    Was it self-defense or firearms offense?
    Hanover caterer confronted intruder with gun, and faces charges

    By Milton J. Valencia, Globe Staff | May 15, 2008

    The racket came from the dark kitchen area, and it startled David Crest as he slept in the office of his Hanover catering business. He suspected he was being burglarized again, and as he crept toward the noise, he grabbed the Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun he had kept by his side.

    "Freeze," he screamed. Crest believed he had finally caught the culprit who had taken thousands of dollars in meats, alcohol, and equipment from the shop. But when he flicked on the lights, still aiming his shotgun, and saw the intruder, he felt betrayed like never before: It was, he said, his head chef.

    "How many times have you broken in here before?" Crest demanded.

    The man ran out the door, and Crest fired several warning shots. He was determined, he said, to protect his property.

    But police say he went too far by trying to take the law into his own hands.

    Now there are two defendants. Crest, 39, of Marshfield will be arraigned next week before the same court that arraigned John F. O'Connor, 43, the man accused of stealing from him. Crest is charged with assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling.

    Crest has become something of a poster child for the right to defend one's property, even if it means using a gun. On a local website, his defenders rail against those who call him a vigilante.

    "The prosecutors will have to make a decision . . . as to which action or which conduct they view to be more serious," said David Frank, legal analyst and writer for Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

    "It could be they decide to prosecute both."

    Bridget Norton Middleton, a spokeswoman for the Plymouth County district attorney's office, would not comment on the case.

    April 21 marked the second consecutive night that Crest had stayed in his business office, the first night keeping his vigil until 3 a.m. He had figured one of his employees was involved in the heists - although he never suspected O'Connor - and told his crew he was going on vacation. If the thief was going to strike, it would be then, he figured.

    Much was at stake for Family Crest Catering, the business Crest and his wife had built over 17 years. Some $3,000 worth of equipment and goods had disappeared from his Hanover shop since October. (A later audit would show that another $4,000 had been embezzled, his lawyer said.)

    Crest had reported the first two thefts, but two more followed. That's when he decided to stand watch overnight.

    Crest was awakened just before 11 p.m., he said, when he heard the freezer door open and shut, then heard a commotion in the equipment room. He discovered O'Connor in the shop, he said, and told him to get on his knees. Words were exchanged and O'Connor reached for the door, according to Crest's account in court documents.

    It was then that Crest fired - twice, toward the ground, he said - as O'Connor ran outside and toward his car. Crest said he then fired two more shots, aiming for O'Connor's tires.

    Crest called police, and officers soon stopped O'Connor's car and arrested him.

    When investigators arrived at Crest's business, they took notice of the broken locks on the doors in the kitchen, and the mess in the equipment area. Then they noted the shell casings, and took the gun in as evidence. Crest acknowledged the shooting from the start. When he initially called the police, he told the dispatcher that he had an unloaded shotgun with him, according to court records.

    On the scene, Crest told investigators that he had an active firearms license. But, to his surprise, police told him they would seek a criminal complaint against him. A Hingham District Court magistrate clerk agreed to bring charges two days later.

    O'Connor, meanwhile, was charged with breaking and entering and larceny, and was sent to the county jail in lieu of $2,500 cash bail.

    Police Chief Paul Hayes said police had no choice but to seek a criminal complaint against Crest. He fired in a neighborhood, toward a man who was unarmed, uncertain of whether there were bystanders who could be hurt, the chief said.

    "We're not sympathetic to O'Connor] but it's poor judgment on Mr. Crest's behalf," Hayes said. "He didn't know who was coming in, when someone was coming in. What if the guy was shot and killed?"

    The chief acknowledged that no one was arrested after Crest reported two thefts last fall. But, he said, "We never advised the owner to sit there with a shotgun. Instead of calling 911, he took it into his own hands."

    That's not how Crest's defenders see it.

    Michael Bergeron, a lawyer for Crest, said his client not only had a right to defend his property, but the right to protect himself. Crest did not know whether the thief was armed, perhaps had a gun in his car, or whether an accomplice was lurking outside, he said.

    Crest's employees found an unfamiliar knife the next day on the floor of the kitchen, Bergeron said, wondering aloud whether O'Connor had carried it inside with him.

    "These are business owners and there's only so many times you can get ripped off before you can protect your property, and yourself," Bergeron said. "I think he did use reasonable force in trying to stop his car, to take his property back under the law."

    O'Connor's lawyer, Marguerite Brackley of Rockland, did not return telephone calls for comment.

    How Crest pleads next week will largely determine what happens to O'Connor. Crest, facing the possibility of conviction, and even jail time, may invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, said his lawyer. Without Crest's testimony, there is no case against O'Connor.

    "That really puts him in a bind in the prosecution against Mr. O'Connor, who is really the villain in all this," Bergeron said.

    Crest could have a difficult case, said Frank, the Lawyers Weekly analyst.

    In precedent-setting cases, police have defended a person's right to protect his property. But the fact that the culprit fled, and that Crest still fired shots - even if only in warning - could hurt him in court, Frank said.

    "The law doesn't allow you to play the role of police officer," Frank said, "just because you're frustrated with the way the investigation is going."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    (Philadelphia County)
    Posts
    3,004
    Rep Power
    1828814

    Default Re: Was it self-defense or firearms offense?

    I often start judging these cases by what we would expect a police officer to do in a similar situation.

    If a cop disturbed a burglary, and the (apparently unarmed) suspect ran, would it be OK for the cop to start firing into the street? I would say no.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Crawfordsville, Indiana
    Posts
    2,340
    Rep Power
    0

    Default Re: Was it self-defense or firearms offense?

    When he started shooting at a man who was running away, he screwed himself. Up to that point he was doin good.
    "Never give up, never surrender!" Commander Peter Quincy Taggart

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
    (Monroe County)
    Age
    51
    Posts
    6,124
    Rep Power
    428217

    Default Re: Was it self-defense or firearms offense?

    This is why you never shoot to warn someone, or disable something. You aim your firearm, you shoot to kill. I can almost guarantee if the suspect was dead, in the middle of a burglary, this wouldn't even be an issue.

    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty
    than to those attending too small a degree of it."~Thomas Jefferson, 1791
    Hobson fundraiser Remember SFN Read before you Open Carry

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Gettysburg area, Pennsylvania
    (Adams County)
    Posts
    405
    Rep Power
    4135

    Default Re: Was it self-defense or firearms offense?

    Yeah, I have to agree with the above. If he's a threat, by all means, make the groundhog his mailman. But if he's fleeing, you've identified him and you aren't in danger, don't fire. And to make matters worse, he fired at a vehicle.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    (Philadelphia County)
    Posts
    26
    Rep Power
    0

    Default Re: Was it self-defense or firearms offense?

    yes i would agree also don't fire if the suspect is tryin to run away you are no longer in danger.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    (Allegheny County)
    Posts
    1,034
    Rep Power
    4923

    Default Re: Was it self-defense or firearms offense?

    There are two unfortunates to this story. Firstly, the man protecting his business has become a criminal via a poor decision. I already +1-ed the comments about only shooting when "necessary".

    But, second... the thought of being prosecuted for "discharge of firearm within" some arbitrary distance. I grew up on stories of "old pap" protecting the farm. So now, life changes have dictated that I live in a condo. Am I breaking a city ordinance by protecting myself within x yards of a dwelling? hmm.... I'll be sure to think of that when practice becomes play.

    But, in respect, I hope all works out for the righteous party in this incident.




    (ohh yeah, hi to anyone who remembers me... first post in about 4 months)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
    (Luzerne County)
    Posts
    3,423
    Rep Power
    7183872

    Default Re: Was it self-defense or firearms offense?

    Quote Originally Posted by headcase View Post
    This is why you never shoot to warn someone, or disable something. You aim your firearm, you shoot to kill.

    Hmmm........not really. You shoot to protect your life or that of another. In other words, you shoot to stop the threat. If you shoot a guy with a knife and he drops or stops.......you don't continue to shoot until he is dead.

    Might seem silly, but going into a situation with the "shoot to kill" mentality is very dangerous. The guy may die from your actions, but that is not the goal. Protecting your life is.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    (Philadelphia County)
    Posts
    363
    Rep Power
    27

    Default Re: Was it self-defense or firearms offense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve in PA View Post
    Hmmm........not really. You shoot to protect your life or that of another. In other words, you shoot to stop the threat. If you shoot a guy with a knife and he drops or stops.......you don't continue to shoot until he is dead.

    Might seem silly, but going into a situation with the "shoot to kill" mentality is very dangerous. The guy may die from your actions, but that is not the goal. Protecting your life is.
    Precisely right.

    This guy would have been fine had he not fired. If the burglar had picked up a carving knife or some such thing and presented a threat, and was then legally shot, the shop owner wouldn't be facing the discharge of a firearm charge. They're only charging that because he had no reason to fire at all.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Brookville, Pennsylvania
    (Jefferson County)
    Age
    47
    Posts
    18,798
    Rep Power
    21474867

    Default Re: Was it self-defense or firearms offense?

    Did you all see where the events in that article took place? ...how can you not be surprised as to the charging of the owner? Massachusetts is one of the biggest socialist-liberal Mecca's in the United States.

    Even if he had killed a heavily armed guy in a life/death struggle purely defensively more than likely he would have been charged in MA.


    Now.. If I read that correctly the owner told the guy to get on his knees and the thief then reached for the door, thats when the owner shot twice at the ground. Then the thief continued to flee, thus prompting the owner to shoot two more times.

    ===

    Below is apply a mix of PA law and "old school" law to the events in the article.

    Up to the point that the burglar was confronted to surrender - its kinda wish-washy going both ways as to using deadly force leaning towards a dead intruder because you absolutely didn't know he was unarmed. But he was committing a felony within a dwelling. Nearly all state laws including MA would have allowed you to shoot.

    But from the point that the thief was confronted and he gathered a quick, but not complete, idea as to the intruder's threat capability(armed with weapon in hand) - the only way I can see the use of deadly force as being justified was for not being able to effect an arrest of a forcible felony(burglary). ...But the owner still didn't use all resources available before using deadly force.

    Any man in this world would have dashed after the first two shots.. Think about it, you're told to get on your knees and you reach not for a weapon - but for the door. ...then the other guy shoots, hell yeah I'm gonna run. You were gonna execute me.

    As much as I'm for "citizens arrest", capping intruders, deadly force on forcible felons, etc - I have to say that the shop owner over stepped his statutory and common law rights. He shot after the fled and didn't use ALL resources available to stop/detain the thief before using deadly force.

    but hey, thats just my opinion.
    Last edited by knight0334; May 28th, 2008 at 10:18 AM.
    RIP: SFN, 1861, twoeggsup, Lambo, jamesjo, JayBell, 32 Magnum, Pro2A, mrwildroot, dregan, Frenchy, Fragger, ungawa, Mtn Jack, Grapeshot, R.W.J.

    Don't end up in my signature!

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Question about self defense/firearms training clost to LV.
    By pullpin in forum Training, Tactics & Competition
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: May 21st, 2008, 10:37 AM
  2. What penalty does this offense carry?
    By djturnz in forum General
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: September 13th, 2007, 08:19 AM
  3. Replies: 0
    Last Post: September 4th, 2007, 06:15 AM
  4. I think it's time to start playing offense
    By Pat T in forum General
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: July 19th, 2007, 11:58 PM
  5. Court restrictions not related to offense
    By Montell C. Williams in forum General
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: June 9th, 2007, 06:26 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Local gun shops | Local shooting ranges | Philadelphia Shooting Ranges | Philadelphia Gun Shops | Pittsburgh Shooting Ranges | Pittsburgh Gun Shops