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What to do after a Self-Defense Shooting

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16-year-old Caleb G. decided he wanted to go to a party one Saturday night. But the 16-year-old was grounded because he hadn’t cleaned his room. So, he decided to sneak out of his Loudoun County, Virginia home to go to the party with his friends.

When Caleb left the party around 2am, his friend dropped him off and helped hoist him through a back window so he could sneak back into his home. However, Caleb had been drinking alcohol and had gone to the wrong house.

As Caleb came through the wrong window, the homeowner heard his burglar alarm sound, so he grabbed his gun and went to investigate. The homeowner confronted Caleb as he came up the stairs inside the house.

The homeowner told the teen to leave and he fired a warning shot. But Caleb didn’t stop, and the homeowner fired multiple times, striking and killing the teenager.

According to Caleb’s father, the homes have the exact same layout, same staircase, and same carpet. Initially, Caleb’s parents forgave the homeowner, but details in the police report released to them nearly five months after the incident, changed their minds.

According to the father Shawn, “At no point, from the homeowner’s…testimony, the account of the events, did he ever describe Caleb in any way being aggressive.”

Caleb’s parents claim their son was “murdered” because he wasn’t described as acting aggressively and because he was shot in the back.

This was an obvious tragedy. But, the homeowner had mere seconds to react to a confusing and chaotic situation. He was confronting an unknown person who was refusing to comply with demands and continuing to proceed upstairs even after a warning shot.

Loudon County Sheriff Michael Chapman said, “You have a person that…actually comes in through a window…The alarm sounds off…He was six-foot tall, unknownst to the…homeowner, wearing dark clothing, you look at everything in context of what’s going on at 2:30 in the morning, somebody breaking in to your house, you..had no idea who this person was.”

Police said there is no indication that there was any animosity between the families or even that they knew each other. No charges were filed against the homeowner.

The reality is, this seems like a clear self-defense shooting. Though, a tragic one that none of us ever want to experience.

However, if you are ever forced to defend your home with your gun, there are a few things you need to know for the aftermath.

Make sure you and your family are safe. Take time to verify that you are not injured and that your family is safe. If shots were fired back at you, make sure someone scans your entire body. (Lift up your shirt, pull down your pants.)

Call 911. Take some deep, slow breaths. If there is someone with you ask them to call 911 and tell them what occurred. The thing is, dispatchers are trained to ask a lot of questions so that responding officers know as much as possible.

Remember to keep things simple and direct. In other words, you don’t want to play out the whole incident on the phone. Tell them you had a home intruder and shots were fired and to send police.

Don’t touch the crime scene. Touch absolutely nothing. Enough said.

Be prepared to be treated like a criminal. Make sure the gun is not in your hands, and that your hands can be seen. Expect that officers will be concerned for their safety since they know there is a gun involved. Listen carefully and immediately follow their commands.

Keep it short and sweet. I am not a lawyer, but here’s what many lawyers have told me. Tell them what happened in one sentence such as, “the guy kicked in my front door and I thought he was going to kill me so I grabbed my gun and fired to stop him.”

After that, request a lawyer. Cops will respect and understand this since they would do the exact same thing if they were in your situation.

The average response time for police is between eight and 11 minutes. What you do in this time after shooting someone in self-defense can determine what legal consequences will follow.

The key is to stay calm, share brief facts, and contact your attorney as soon as possible.

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