Last week Dracy Pendleton, accused of shooting a Mahomet, IL policeman, was on the run and hiding out in Southern Illlinois. He used the Sulphur Springs Baptist Church. near Eddyville, IL as one of his resources. The wife of a deacon noticed that food had been stolen and then prepared and consumed in the church kitchen. She and her husband notified police and boarded up the back door.
On Saturday night, around midnight, police tracked Mr. Pendleton to the church and he fled, upon seeing the police, to a nearby abandoned house where a gun battle on Sunday morning ended his flight.
When I was about 12 years old, my father was the pastor of the East Peoria Church of God. We lived next door. On many evenings, before bedtime, my father would send me over to the church building to get a Pepsi for him from the soda machine in the basement. The machine was on the other end of the building, as were the light switches. I was always afraid of finding someone there. My dad made fun of me. Looks like I was right to be afraid.
What about you? You may not live next door to a church, but what if you came home from shopping to find a man in your kitchen? What if you got up in the night to go to the bathroom and saw someone in the hall? What would you do?
Circumstances would dictate the best response. If you were near an exit door, you might just get out and call the police. That would be a great response. You don’t want to tangle with someone who might not value life as much as you do. But if your wife or kids were there in the house, leaving would no longer be option. What about your gun? Where is it? If you were wearing it, or had it in a purse it would certainly be handy now. If you don’t have it with you, is the intruder between you and your gun? That’s bad.
If you have a gun, what would you do? Try to hold him at gunpoint until police arrived? Suppose he didn’t want to surrender? Suppose he wanted to take your gun away from you?
Keep it simple. Run if circumstances allow. If you have to fight, use a gun – CARRY YOUR GUN ON YOU EVEN AT HOME! Issue clear commands. Speak like you intend to be obeyed.
Years ago, while on a bicycle ride, I approached a house with a big dog in the yard. He began to run across the yard to intercept and eat me. I shouted, “NO! GO HOME!” He stopped immediately and turned around to go back to his house. Then he turned back with a confused look on his face. He was thinking, “Hey! You’re not the boss of me!” But it was too late, I was pedaling quickly away, and he was out of luck. Say it like you mean to be obeyed.
But, don’t say “FREEZE! GET ON THE GROUND!” Holding a dangerous man in your home at gunpoint is not a good idea. You’re not making an arrest. And he might pretend to be getting down, but instead move toward you. Or he just might start walking toward you with his hands up, and urging you to “be cool”. Then what? do you repeat yourself? How does that work with your kids?
Here’s a suggestion. Say “GET OUT! GET OUT!” Then if he doesn’t move IMMEDIATELY toward an exit – SHOOT HIM – NOW! Most states make the presumption that someone in your home, uninvited – especially at night, is up to no good, and allow for lethal force in self-defense. Your story will then be that you issued a command to leave, and when the command was disobeyed, made the reasonable presumption that your life was in imminent danger. Remember “Reasonableness” and “Imminence“?
Be prepared to shoot. You might want to discipline kids by repeating yourself ad nauseam, or even worse by counting (1…2…3…), but in a life-threatening situation, be prepared to act IMMEDIATELY if the command is disobeyed. SHOOT!!!!! If someone is looking at your gun and is not already running away, YOU ARE IN DANGER – SHOOT!!!!
To wrap up – if you can avoid using lethal force by running, even if your state does not require it, do it. It’s your best choice. If circumstances don’t allow for that option, get your gun, and start the use of force spectrum by issuing a simple command that you expect to be obeyed. GET OUT! Then don’t hesitate to back up your words. Those who hesitate here, are lost.