Boone County, KY — The Boone County Sheriff’s office reported an attempted burglary gone wrong that ended in a beat-up burglar and several warning shots being fired at two different times.
David Whitford, 29, is currently in jail nursing his injuries after the attempted burglary of a home. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 9200 block of River Road in Hebron at about 2 pm on May 2nd to the report of shots being fired with a burglary in progress.
When the police arrived on scene they found the homeowner subduing the suspected burglar outside of the home. Reports show that the suspect attempted to gain entry to the residence, forcibly, but was confronted by the armed homeowner.
Whitford ran away on foot toward the riverbank, and, as he did, the homeowner reportedly fired several warning shots at him. The homeowner continued to look for the suspected burglar and found him in a wooded area. The homeowner then fired several other warning shots, grabbed Whitford, and began to fight with him.
The result was a bruised and battered Whitford who received medical treatment before being shuffled off to jail. He’s facing second degree burglary charges.
The homeowner was also apparently injured from the fight, but refused medical treatment.
We don’t usually offer analysis in these DGU articles because they’re pretty cut and dry. But there were several things that took place here that we need to address.
First, is that the homeowner fired warning shots. Firing warning shots is usually not a good idea because it can communicate that you may have thought that deadly force may not have been necessary to defend life. This is bad because, in many areas just the showing of a firearm can be considered as deadly force.
Therefore, if the handgun was out and being shown, and fired, it’s likely considered to be deadly force even though the homeowner clearly didn’t think deadly force was warranted. If he didn’t think it was warranted because he didn’t fire at the suspect–but multiple different times, all around him–he shouldn’t have pulled the gun out to begin with.
Also, in certain states and jurisdictions there are laws preventing the discharge of a firearm unless your life is in danger. If you’re firing a warning shot your life is clearly not in danger because if it is, you’ll make an attempt to save your own life at all costs.
Another issue, is that the homeowner followed the suspect and looked for him until he found him. There are a couple of things that should likely have been handled differently. First, what if the bad guy was attempting to collect his thoughts and regroup?
Maybe he was trying to avoid confrontation but was willing to strike if forced into battle. After all, a cornered cat will usually try to escape before it attacks.
It will attack if it’s left with no other options, however. In this case the burglar seemed to be a bit wimpy, but what if he wasn’t? What if he had a knife he was willing to use and knew the homeowner didn’t want to actually shoot him? What if he somehow was able to grab the homeowners gun during the fight?
While these are a lot of “what ifs” that didn’t happen in this situation, any one of them could have changed the outcome drastically. Being that we never know the state of mind a criminal is in it’s rarely a good idea to go looking for a fight with someone caught in the act of committing a crime.
And of course that leaves us with the actual fight. There really was no need to fight the attempted burglar once he’s laying on the ground in the woods fearing for his life. You might be Evander Holyfield in the ring, but you have no clue if the guy you just backed into the corner is a hungry Mike Tyson.
There are a lot of scenarios that could have unfolded totally different, that, thankfully didn’t.
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Update: I changed the state from Ohio to Kentucky as I hadn’t realized Boone County was in Kentucky, which is apparently close enough to Cincinnati, OH that it made their news, fooling me in the process. My apologies for this confusion.