Detroit residents use Second Amendment to defend their homes
By Detroit Free Press (MI) March 29, 2014 6:55 am
ConstitutionFrances Williams said she knows the people on her block near St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church on Detroit’s west side.
Good people. Law-abiding people. Homeowners.
She wiped a tear as she talks about the anguish she believes her friend of 20 years and neighbor a few doors away must be going through. Police said the neighbor shot and killed two men trying to break into his house on Dexter this morning.
It’s unfortunate that two people died, but the break-ins have to stop, she said.
“We’re just tired, basically. … We’re not going to live in fear. People are just doing what they have to do, you know, and just as anybody else, we value our lives, and we’d like to be able to live out our lives in peace,” Williams said.
William’s neighbor, a man in his early 50s who repairs buses for the city, is the latest in a string of cases where Detroit residents have resorted to using weapons to fend off intruders. If prosecutors decide that Tuesday’s killings on Dexter were justified, it would bring the number of justifiable homicides in Detroit to 10 cases so far this year.
A Detroit police spokesman said residents have a right to defend themselves.
Chief (James) Craig and the Detroit Police Department, along with the citizens of Detroit, are fed up. “We are sick and tired of being victimized by the criminal element in this city,” said Sgt. Michael Woody. “The citizens are protecting their homes and their property and their families, and they are well within their rights to do that.”
Williams said this was only the most recent break-in or attempt her friend experienced. A couple of days ago, intruders tried to break into the man’s home twice in a single day.
Woody said the man heard a noise by a side window of his house and went to check about 10 a.m. He saw two men trying to break in and confronted them. A fight ensued and the man, who has a concealed-pistol license, pulled out a handgun and shot the other two men dead.
Authorities are trying to identify the men, who appeared to be men in their 20s.
In most recent cases, Detroiters are using guns to shoot at intruders who break in to their homes, sometimes with deadly consequences:
— A resident fatally shot a 17-year-old intruder on Penrod Street this month.
— A woman fatally shot an intruder on Grove Street in February.
— A mother of two opened fire when three teens broke into her home on Woodrow Wilson in February.
And earlier this month, an 82-year-old man used a hammer to whack a 33-year-old man who broke into his home on Whitfield. The bleeding suspect was arrested.
Similar situations happen in the suburbs, too, as evidenced by the Bloomfield Township homeowner who opened fire on two burglars last month, striking one in the hand.
Not all cases where homeowners have shot at people on their property are considered justified, however. Theodore Wafer of Dearborn Heights faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the November killing of 19-year-old Renisha McBride. Wafer is accused of shooting McBride after she crashed her car and ended up on his front porch. The case has racial overtones because Wafer is white and McBride was black.
Back on Dexter, Williams said residents have been forced to rely on themselves for protection against criminals. Crime, especially break-ins, convinced a family across the street to abandon their home late last year. It’s vacant now.
“We can and we will protect ourselves,” Williams said. “You can’t be having a culture of fear. The police are going to have to do better.”
Staff writer Gina Damron contributed to this report.