Homeowner shoots at armed burglary suspect

Homeowner shoots at armed burglary suspect »Play Video
A Bakersfield home-owner shot at an armed burglary suspect, scaring off the would-be crook Monday night. Sheriff officials say the resident has the right to protect himself with deadly use of force.

The incident happened in the area of Gosford and Lindsey Roads south of Bakersfield. The home-owner told Eyewitness News his property had been the target of crime and attempted burglaries three times in the last 18 months -- that's why he was ready with a gun.

The resident says he spotted the suspect trying to break into a front window of the house he built on the property for his son. They were both at the father's house when they heard the dog bark, and went to investigate.

The home-owner then spotted an unfamiliar man in the yard. "As soon as the unfamiliar male saw the home-owner, he raised what appeared to be a handgun toward the home-owner," Sheriff's Sgt. Ed Komin told Eyewitness News. "The home-owner took one shot toward the suspect, and the suspect fled on foot."

Sgt. Komin says it appears that shot did not hit the suspect. Officers who immediately came to the scene found no blood or any other indicators where the suspect took off.

The resident told Eyewitness News he saw the would-be burglar raise a gun, and he didn't want to be shot -- so he fired at the suspect.
Sgt. Komin says a resident has the right to shoot an intruder to protect life.

"Certainly when the home-owner was threatened by what appeared to be a gun coming up toward him, it would be appropriate and prudent -- and that's the thing to do, is to use deadly force to protect yourself. That's the appropriate and legal thing to do."

Other neighbors say there have been several break-ins in the area. At one house, jewelry and computer equipment were stolen. Another neighbor came home to find suspects inside his house.

The suspect in the Monday night incident is described as a man of unknown race, about 5'9" and 170-pounds. Anyone with information can call the Sheriff's Department at 861-3110.

Sheriff officials confirm that there have been a number of burglaries and thefts. They do not know if this is the work of the same suspect.

The resident who shot at the suspect Monday night thinks the area is the target of crime because it's fairly rural. Neighbors say they have now started up a citizen patrol.

What can home-owners do to protect themselves and their property?
"Dogs are great, alarms are great -- lighting goes a long way and that sort of thing to protect property," says Sgt. Komin. "Now, once it crosses the line where a person is threatened -- then higher levels of force, of course, are appropriate."