14-y.o. Boy Babysitting Younger Siblings Shoots Armed Intruder

Hi Readers — This story is just so wild, I had to put it here and ask YOU to parse it. Long and short of it: Someone knocked on the door of a Phoenix, AZ home during the afternoon, when a 14-year-old boy was babysitting his three younger siblings. He didn’t recognize the woman so he didn’t answer the door.

Soon after, the teen heard a bang on the door, rushed his siblings upstairs and got a handgun from his parent’s bedroom. When he got to the top of the stairs, he saw a man breaking through the front door and point a gun at him.

The boy shot the 37-year-old man, who is in critical condition but expected to survive and be booked into jail.

So — on the one hand, this shows just how competent a young person can be, even under unbelievable pressure. On the other hand, I worry that this will make even more parents AFRAID to let even their teenage children babysit because “look what can happen when they’re home without an adult!” I also wonder, somewhat perversely, what would have happened if the kids HAD answered the door when the strangers knocked. Maybe if the intruders knew there was someone at home, they would have skipped that house and looked for an empty one. Certainly most burglars prefer an unoccupied house.

And then I also wonder what this says about guns in the home.  BUT I don’t want this to become a forum for or against gun control. I’m really just interested in what went down.

So I am putting this out for you to chew on. And, on a completely different topic, I hope some of you attended a Free-Range picnic this weekend and had a great time! — L.

81 Responses

  1. May my son’s reaction be the same under similar circumstances, and may his aim be true.

  2. Most burglars don’t do it with a gun either. My guess is that the intent was to go into an empty house but the man was prepared to take people out if necessary. Very uncommon for burglary.

    The situation should definitely be hailed as one in which a teen proved himself very capable. I’m not sure the situation should be hailed as one to show that kids shouldn’t answer the door to strangers. I think the woman was the scout and the couple would have moved on to a different house had the boy answered.

  3. I live in Surprise, a suburb of Phoenix. Our neighborhood has been on alert the last few months because we have been experiencing daytime burglaries like these. We have guns in the house and I know how to use them. My children also know what to do when a gun comes out, because we have prepared them. Not in a frightening way but in an empowering way. That is what free range is about – equipping our children, empowering them, to deal with tough and/or dangerous situations without making them paranoid. I say kudos to the boy and to the parents who prepared him to think on his feet and to have the courage protect himself and his siblings!

  4. It’s possible that things would have happened differently if they had answered the door, but honestly…woulda coulda shoulda…those people were up to no good no matter how you look at it. This teenager handled the situation like a man, and his parents should be proud. Kids are only as helpless as we teach them to be.

  5. Honestly, the question to ask is “Would the situation have been improved by his parents being there?”

    It’s hard to see how it could have been.

  6. Unrelated to the gun story, but our “Free Range” story:

    We’ve been going through some rough stuff as a family of late and some spiritual sustenance always helps. My 10-year-old firstborn wanted to attend daily Mass, which is a quarter-mile walk on side streets Friday morning, 7:45. She was up and ready to go on her own; she’s gone with me a few times in the past so it wasn’t a big deal.
    She came home sooner than she should have quite upset. It seems that our priest was unavailable and daily Mass would be at another church about a mile farther away at 8:30.
    I thought about it. Discussed landmarks and directions with her dad in front of her–north past the library, then turn right; left at the McDonald’s across the street; and said, “Do you want to take your bike?”
    She wore her helmet, crossed the major road at the light, and, since this was her first time going to that destination, took my cell phone. I asked her to call when she arrived and when she was on her way back home, which she did. I know the cell phone is one of your quirks but this was her first time going there.
    She came back feeling much better for a LOT of reasons.

  7. I’m another who believes that if they had answered the door, the burglars would have moved on to another house. Why else would they have had a scout? I think this is an example of paranoid thinking (never answer the door because all strangers are up to no good) backfiring into something worse. Granted, this stranger WAS up to no good, but they were looking for an empty house, not victims.

  8. My initial thought,call through the door and ask “who is it”. Out neighborhood has had issues with break ins. If I am home alone I don’t open the door without asking that.

    BUT, hindsight is 20/20. He handled it very well and proved he can care for his siblings!

  9. Uly: Honestly, the question to ask is “Would the situation have been improved by his parents being there?”

    That is the question I have as well. I don’t generally answer the door if I don’t recognize the person because I’m sick and tired of solicitors. I hate their high-pressure sales tactics–whether for household services or religion–I hate that they all seem to be slimy and obnoxious idiots. I stopped answering the door maybe a decade ago because I don’t want to deal with anyone trying to sell me on anything.

    Thus, my house would appear empty to someone using knocking as scouting even when there are two adults and a child here.

  10. So, no one is questioning this 14-year-old’s ability to keep his siblings safe while baby-sitting, right?

    My local news showed a story tonight (I can’t find a link online, though) about an 11-year-old who was home alone when three intruders broke in. He hid under a desk and called 911. Thankfully, he didn’t panic, and police arrived and caught the intruders before they could discover the boy.

    He was hailed for his ability to keep calm in the situation. There was no mention of why he was home alone, and no insinuation that he was “wrongfully” left home by himself. (I’ve read other stories on here about criticism when children this age are left home alone, so I was kind of surprised that this wasn’t brought up at all.)

    Of course, he had the presence of mind to keep himself safe. If he had panicked, been discovered, and been hurt, you can bet his parents would have been put through the ringer. The same goes for this story posted by Lenore–if things had turned out differently, these parents would have been blasted for “letting” this happen.

    Can we really say that kids this age aren’t capable and then turn around and applaud them when they do prove themselves? By the same token, can we really say that it’s okay for kids to be on their own and then scream about how wrong the parents were to leave them when something does happen? I just wish all the judgment would stop. When we judge, we constantly contradict ourselves.

  11. @Heather P, I am so sorry your child interprets religion as any sort of solace.

  12. I would like to point out that the home invader in this case WAS ARMED. The link in your blog post hints at this, but does not state it explicitly: “Holmes said the suspect did not get a shot off. He declined to release his name until he is booked into jail.”. I have seen other news articles of this incident which state explicitly that the suspect was armed. I will try to find a link or two for the discussion.

    Burglars do not generally enter a home armed; they hope, in fact, that the home is vacant. Whatever the home invader had in mind, I doubt that it was theft.

    The young man in this case (considering his valor, I hesitate to call him a boy) very likely saved his siblings’ lives. He did precisely the right thing. I have guns in the house, and believe that they should be secured from curious children, but 14 years is old enough to treat firearms with respect and due caution. Considering that his aim was true, the stress of the situation, and his decisive action, I would be very surprised if he has not spent considerable time at the range with his dad (which is a Good Thing).

    (I live in Scottsdale, AZ, a neighboring town, and have been following the story as details emerge.)

  13. @Anthony

    That’s uncalled for. For one thing, people have different opinions and it’s none of your business what their family believes. But the real issue is that this is a place for support of free range issues, not criticism of anyone’s religious beliefs or lack thereof. And particularly to effectively insult a ten year old? Let’s work on some civility.

  14. My thoughts exactly, Emily!

  15. @HeatherP – you must be so proud of your daughter, both for this new milestone she’s reached so competently and for the very fact of being self-aware enough to know what kind of support she needs.

    As for the other commenter, and I say this as a confirmed atheist myself, your comment was utterly and completely out of line, not to mention a really lousy thing to do.

  16. Wow. Weird. Glad again I live in Canada!

    We were always taught not to OPEN the door to anyone when we were home alone, and not to say, “I’m here alone” to anyone who knocked, but that we could come to the locked door, not open it, and say, “Who is it?” I mean, if it’s the neighbour and you know them, why not open the door? And if it was someone we didn’t know, and they asked for our mom, we were told to say, “She’s in the shower, you’ll have to come back later.” I suppose a better answer would be, “She’s not home, and my dad is in the basement cleaning his guns.”

  17. @Anthony – That was totally uncalled for. I’m also an athieist, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a decent human being. To respond to HeatherP’s good story of her child discovering that she had the strength and responsibility to make that trip on her own with your own political ranting has no place on this blog. If you can’t be at least as responsible as her 10 year old, you don’t need to be commenting on here.

    @HeatherP – I’m so happy your daughter was able to find the support she needs, both at home and outside it. Great work all around!

  18. “Burglars do not generally enter a home armed; they hope, in fact, that the home is vacant. Whatever the home invader had in mind, I doubt that it was theft.”

    We don’t really know this. It is considerably rare for (a) anyone to be home during a burglary (they want your things, not to tangle with people) and (b) for a home burglar to ever get caught, so it is impossible to know how many burglaries occur with arms involved. I’ve never been involved in one when guns were known to be present, but it is not like the family cat can tell you whether the burglar had a weapon. It isn’t common but people do get killed being or coming home during burglaries every once in awhile that were just thefts gone wrong.

    “The young man in this case (considering his valor, I hesitate to call him a boy) very likely saved his siblings’ lives.”

    No doubt. I do think theft was the object – otherwise why go into a house you believe to be unoccupied – but the burglar likely would have used the gun if given the chance.

  19. Newer folks, Anthony does this every time religion is mentioned. He is looking for people to engage him so he can insult religion and everyone who practices it in the most inflammatory fashion possible. Don’t feed the troll.

  20. @Donna If you read either of the news stories for which I provided links, you will see that the intruder is reported to have pointed his gun at the 14-year-old. If simple theft was the intruder’s objective, I do not see why he would have threatened one of the home’s occupants. According to the US DOJ (http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=43) the vast majority of all violent crime is committed without a weapon of any kind, 73% according to recent statistics on the above link. I can not believe that burglary (non-violent) would have a higher rate of weapon usage that violent crimes. Additionally, only in a minority of those incidents assessed which involve a weapon, is that weapon a firearm. (Understand that I am speaking in this case in terms of probability, not certainty.)

    There is MUCH more to this story than a simple burglary, the criminology of which is off-topic. The Free Range Lesson in this story should be that children should be taught to take responsibilities appropriate to their age, as this young man evidently was.

  21. I agree with DH. It seems the assailant was ready to shoot whoever stood in his way. Why would an adult deter him?
    I know if I had been in charge, I would have panicked badly: I’ve never seen an unholstered gun up close, let alone been pointed at with one…

  22. No one has considered that they knew the kids were in there, and whether they answered or not, they were going to come in. The man had a gun drawn!! That 14 year old is a hero!

  23. First this is an isolated event so to start a chain of over reaction would be wrong. The gun in the house presents a problem because it was the boys first response. The gun should have been locked up. He could have called out and let the person outside the door know someone was in the house and he wasn’t going to answer the door. He then could have called the police if he was still afraid. A burglar would most likely move on. The parents all so could have alerted a neighbor that her son was at home watching the younger children so that they could have been called in an emergency.

  24. Anthony, like many atheists (certainly not all) you need to put your immature and unfounded bitterness aside and grow up. HeatherP, you should be very proud of your daughter.

  25. It’s no surprise that a 14 year old is competent like this; you don’t have to look very far back and a 14 year old was likely to be a parent/adult of the household!

  26. John, most atheists are not immature OR bitter, no more than most theists are raving and delusional. Your use of the word “many” implies just the opposite.

    Also, seriously, don’t respond to Anthony. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

  27. IMO, this 14 yo (who apparently felt confident enough to use a weapon) should be commended for properly using the Castle Doctrine to defend his family. When someone turns a gun on you and you are threatened, the tables turn. It’s now an armed robbery.

    I am personally not a fan of weapons, but the men in my family have them for hunting (food that we eat). My conversations about this with my children tend to focus on the “fight or flight” in emergency scenerios. If someone attempts to steal something from us (whether a car jacking or a purse), no possessions are worth fighting over. Things can be replaced, people can’t. My kids know what homeowners insurance is. I hope they never hold anything in our home worthy of fighting for, as it’s mostly crap anyway!

    But if their lives were threatened, now that’s a completely different story…

  28. Thank goodness the kid had enough good sense to protect himself and his siblings. We also have firearms in the house and all our kids ages 9-15 can shoot and shot accurately. What people don’t understand is that if kids are raised around guns there isnt any mystery to them. Its a tool just like any other. Ill bet that kids parents are very proud of him

  29. I’m glad that boy was able to protect his family, that he had access to firearms and the knowledge to use them. Too many people, in my opinion, make firearms into a mystery and thereby endanger their children.

    But as to what would have been different if his parents had been there — um, they would have been the ones to protect him and his siblings? He wouldn’t have had to shoot someone? I’d be proud of my son as well, and I don’t think the slim possibility of a home break-in is a reason NOT to leave kids home alone, but I would certainly prefer that my child never carry that sort of burden.

  30. I think it’s important to point out that the kid had a plan:

    He first moved his wards to safety. Only then did he take steps to protect them using the tools at hand. The only thing he could have added might be to have the siblings calling 911 in parallel. Kudos to smart thinking under pressure. I can only hope I would have done so well.

  31. For those who are saying “they would have moved on had someone answered the door”. You have no way of knowing that. If someone I don’t know breaks into my house. I would act in the same manner. That is your property,your right, and your livelyhood.

  32. I always tell my kids not to go near the door or look out the window, but maybe I should re-think that and just have them inquire at the closed door with phone in hand.

  33. Another question: How different would this have gone down if the parents had been home?

  34. I don’t see this story being different, with or without parents home at the time. This would have happened either way. The question is, would the parent pull the trigger? A parent might have over analyzed the situation. Who knows? Bottom line is this kid did what he could to protect his siblings from a low lIfe, and possibly saved the life of one of his neighbors too with his bravery and quick thinking. I only hope he feels no guilt and suffers no mental anguish over what he had to do. We can’t armchair quarterback a situation we were not in.

  35. Would I want my child to have to shoot someone? No. Would I feel awful for him having put him in the situation? Yes. (And I’m guessing that’s part of why the father in this story is so distraught, I know I would be if my teenage shot a man). But in all honesty, I pray that my child has the good sense and good aim to do exactly the same thing and will be teaching him towards that end.

  36. Good to know that Anthony is just a troll and therefore not worth engaging. However, my comment was meant as much for Heather’s sake as anyone. She might not know that he’s just like this, and might take our silence for tacit agreement of his statements.

  37. An incident of a day time break in our city, a 13 year old girl was home sick, ran upstairs withh phone in hand and called 911.

    As other commenters mention, the parents would do the same.

  38. I do applaud the young man’s quick thinking and bravery. Though, not knowing the layout of the home, I wonder if it would have been possible for all the children to escape through a backdoor and go to a neighbor’s house. Guns should be a last resort. The intruder could just have easily shot first. Having said that, I again want to say that the boy should be commended for keeping his family safe.

  39. Malcolm–I agree. I think this story is much more than a simple burglary. Actually since the intruder had a gun it became armed robbery which carries a much stiffer sentence. That is why most burglars don’t carry guns–at least here in the east. The facts don’t line up. If I had to guess, the parents are involved in some kind of shady business or another. Otherwise this robbery is exactly that statistical anomaly like a stranger abduction of a child.

    Anthony, welcome back. I always enjoy when you stir the pot.

  40. Emily and others offering kudos: Thanks. I am quite proud of her. 🙂

  41. Having been in similar situations where luckily I did not have to shoot, IT is better to have it and know how to use it, than to not have it and need it. In this situation with this kid, it turned out that the kid could defend themselves. It is not a one size fits all solution. It is a horrible thing as a young person to have to look down the sights and decide to kill someone. While said child is still alive i am sure there is emotional fallout the child will be dealing with for years.
    It is my opinion that if a child is in a situation where an armed breakin is expected and they are expected to defend themselves with lethal force then the parents have failed in thier duty to keep a child safe. I say that from the point of view of someone who was repeatedly exposed to dangerous situations and people.
    Now im going to go read what everyone else said.

  42. Oh, and I do note a paternalistic tendency in responses. It could have been the childs mom, or both parents that took him to the range. I challenge you to all rethink this and put a female child in same situation. How do you _feel_ about the situation now?

  43. but I may just be grumpy today

  44. @racheleh I mentioned the child’s dad, as he was specifically mentioned in the news reports. There has been no mention of the mother that I have seen. Have you taken your daughter to the firing range? Exceptions exist, but the vast majority of the times I have seen, shooting range time is with dad. Not “paternalistic”, just “realistic”. (Standard Disclaimer: Exceptions exist; generalities do not address specific cases. Such exceptions should not preclude valid empirical generalizations, as opposed to unfounded stereotypes.)

  45. Kudos to the 14-year old for, as other commenters have also said, for having the common sense to get his siblings to safety first. That’s spectacular thinking under extreme pressure.

    Kudos to the parents for teaching the 14-year old how to safely and responsibly handle a firearm.

    @Anthony, aside from the unneeded snark, you jumped to conclusions about whether the girl received solace from religion. The girl’s mother did not say or hint at that; she was completely unclear about the benefits her daughter received. Also, are you really sorry? Genuine sorrow implies contrition and the intention to not repeat the offense you committed.

  46. Quick thinking 14 year old. Unfortunately where I live, armed robberies are quite common and there is a trend for robbers to hit when people are home because then the alarm system will probably be switched off, there is someone to open any safes and people to assault, rape and kill. I love my country passionately, but I no longer leave my daughter home alone. Realistically she is probably not a great deal safer when I’m home too as we don’t own a firearm, but at least I can hopefully think quicker and press the panic button or whip out the pepper spray.

  47. Sarah–The story you quoted-you missed that the kid first called his dad instead of calling 911 first. A decision that could have resulted in a different outcome. I am proud of the kid for hiding calling 911. I used this as an example with my kids to call 911 first and not me in an emergency.

  48. Malcom – If I were breaking into a house with a weapon, I’d have it drawn too until I confirmed that the house was indeed unoccupied. There is no point of having the gun if it is tucked away. Of course he pointed it at the boy once his attention was drawn to the boy. That is basic. When he looked at the boy, the gun got aimed at the boy. He also never got off a shot. A person in a house looking for the occupants likely would have been quicker on firing – as opposed to being startled when the kids were home.

    It is possible that these two have been scoping this house out and went in to get some or all of these children. The odds of that are EXTREMELY low as we talk about here all the time. If it happens more than once or twice a year countrywide, I’d be surprised. Burglaries, on the other hand, happen more than once or twice an hour in your state alone (whatever state that may be). If you live in a city, it may even be once or twice an hour in your city. Most when houses are unoccupied and most never caught so we have no idea the true number that are armed. Of course we cannot know until more details are out what really happened here, but the probability still much higher that this was a theft, even with the presence of a gun.

    I do think guns in burglaries are rare. Mostly because your burglar is likely to be a neighbor or someone with ties in the area and knows when people are unlikely to be home. This door-knock-scout scenario is rare. That said, I’ve represented a number of burglars over the years. Some I know have weapons and it would not surprise me in the least if weapons were present during the burglaries. It would not surprise me if they weren’t. It would just depend on the level of idiocy present that particular day.

    Brian – A gun only makes it armed robbery if someone is home and awake and aware. If a house is unoccupied, it is still just burglary, even if you bring in an entire arsenal.

  49. Like we free-rangers always say, kids are more competent than many people give them credit for.

    My thoughts: this puts a twist on “keep guns out of reach” advice that’s typically offered, because generally the idea (I’m not saying I’m for it or against it) is to make sure the guns can never be reached by any child, ever, period. In this case, it turned out to be better that the child COULD access the gun, but the thing is, many people would be saying otherwise had the child used it to commit a criminal act. Then the discussion would be all about how awful the parents are for not doing enough to keep the guns out of reach of the children.

    In fact, as I understand it, there was a case awhile back (can’t remember all the specifics) where a teenager committed suicide using his parent’s gun. If I recall the details properly, the parents had done all of these things: locked the bedroom doors, had bars on the windows, locked the nightstand the gun & bullets were stored in, the gun was unloaded and the bullets were in a different location from the gun.

    The specifics were something like that, and yet, the child overcame ALL of that & committed suicide anyway. Predictably, you had people blaming the parents. Gee whiz, aside from not owning or possessing a gun at all, what more could they have done?


  50. Anthony, I’m sorry you can’t keep your mouth shut about things that are none of your business and have nothing to do with the topic at hand. You are much more obnoxious than the majority of religious people about your non-religion.

  51. Sorry I fed the troll. Should have read the comments first. I should have known better, too, as I’ve seen Anthony around here before.

    I also want to clarify that Anthony is far more obnoxious than the vast majority of non-religious people I know as well — I just thought the other comparison would hit home harder.

  52. I feel sorry for the kid. He will be made out as a hero by the rabid pro gun crowd and a villain by the equally rabid anti-gun crowd. That’s a big load for a 14 year old to carry.

    He needs a lot of counseling, not second guessing. Right or wrong, it has to be hard to take someone’s life.

    At some point this kid had to be trained to do this. Both of my kids can shoot but I know that they would not be able to do what he did. Just wow.

    I’ve never been in a position where I had to fire at someone. I sincerely hope I never, ever, have to take someone’s life.

    Kids can do a lot more than we give them credit for but at the same time they still need support and help, especially in situations like this.

  53. My thoughts? My first reaction is to be very impressed with this kid. He took control and did he what he felt he needed to do in a scary situation.

    If I think about it, I do find myself questioning the “what ifs” of the situation. But then I realized that those are all “what ifs”!

    Plenty of people don’t answer the door to strangers. It’s not unheard of for a teenager to know how to use a gun. Yes, it’s a good idea to keep guns out of kids’ reach–no one is arguing this. Without knowing all the details, I’m assuming this kid, considered old enough to be responsible, was told where the gun was kept–not that the gun was lying out in the open.

  54. Yan Seiner, excellent perspective you brought up.

  55. OOPS! I made the assumption that the burglar died… Still a heavy load for a child to carry.

  56. @Malcolm I do intend to teach my daughter to shoot, and shoot competently. At this time however she is not yet two and I think the noise would be too much for her ears even if shielded. I just think that if it were a girl there would be less of a jump to “hero” status and it would have changed how the story got reported in the first place. Plus as noted I’m grumpy today. MY hope is this is a one-off situation for the child.
    Constant stress from being in a situation where knowing how to use a gun in the expectation of lethal force is a _required_aspect of daily life can and will result in a very stressed child. Been there, done that.

  57. Donna–not in NJ or NY. Very different crimes even if the weapon is just on your person. (like 6-12 months in jail v. 3-5 years in prison). I

    Burglars have been known to discard weapons before entering homes just to reduce the crime in case they get caught. I think there is even some case law where the prosecutors try to content that certain tools should be considered weapons to increase the sentence.

  58. I do think the woman was a scout, but I also think the kids did the best they could with the situation at hand. I know I don’t always answer the door. I don’t think this is a pro or anti gun situation- the outcome could have been wildly different given any number of variables. Fact is, there was a gun, and the kid’s instinct was to get it and shoot, and it turned out as well as it possibly could in that situation.

    I hope the kids can fully recover psychologically from this- it must have been very traumatic.

  59. As for this situation, I am against guns in the house but I’m really glad that it worked out well for this boy to have one, and I’m really glad he was able to protect himself and his siblings. I agree that had they answered the door (or not answered and said “who is it?”) the burglars MIGHT have moved on. But I don’t think it was wrong for them to ignore the door, either. For all we know answering the door could have made things a whole lot worse.

    As for this religion debate, I am an atheist as well but geez Anthony’s comment was completely out of line. Which apparently he does all of the time, I guess. What a loser! I think it is AWESOME that HeatherP’s daughter took herself to church and had a positive time there. Sounds like a wonderful girl.

  60. I suspect that this teen will not have too many issues with this. If he had NOT acted, and a sibling was hurt, kidnapped or killed, THOSE are situations that he would need counseling for. If someone is pointing a gun in your direction, it is best to assume that they mean to use it. He did the right thing. It was a hard thing, but he correctly weighed what could have happened to his siblings had he done nothing.

    I hope that he and his family are able to stay away from all the politicians who who want to make him an issue. I do hope that this was not a home invasion due to illegal drugs or such going on in the house.

  61. Kudos to the kid for keeping his cool.
    Kudos to the parents for empowering their son.

  62. Brian – Even in NY and NJ there is no such thing as an armed robbery of an unoccupied dwelling.

    Burglary and robbery are two completely different crimes. Burglary is a property crime. It involves entry into a structure to commit a crime. A person can be present or not but the person is not important.

    Robbery is a person crime. The theft must occur from a person or his immediate vicinity. The key to robbery is the injury, threat, intimidation, fear of a person.

    You may get an enhanced punishment in some places if it is discovered that a gun was present during a burglary, but the crime doesn’t become a robbery unless a person is present.

  63. Uly, MOST atheists on the blogosphere ARE indeed obnoxious and bitter. i.e. Youtube, yahoo, Fox News blog etc. Like Anthony, they’re always belittling and making fun of another blogger’s faith statement. I know because I’m in those blogs a lot. But most atheists I know outside the blogosphere in general are not that way, especially the atheists on this blog who rebuked Anthony and stood up for HeatherP and her daughter.

    But regarding the subject at hand, the 14-year-old boy who shot the intruder, I certainly hope that politicians will not go nuts as a result of this and pass more laws aimed at OVERprotecting children. This seems to be the trend here in American during the past 30 years.

  64. Okay, now we’ve got two trolls. (Notice I didn’t comment on the behavior of theists on youtube, yahoo, fox news, and more. Those places are cesspools.)

    John, why don’t you and Anthony duke it out, right here, right now? I’ll bring the popcorn! Anybody up for nachos? Popcorn, nachos, and a troll fight! It’ll be awesome!

  65. I’d love to hire that teenager to babysit my son! That young man should receive some kind of medal or award for protecting his younger siblings from an intruder–with a gun. This story should be an example of what teenagers CAN do, not a horror story to scare parents, educators, lawmakers and anti-gun fanatics.

  66. The whole “your guns should be locked up away from your children” thing is kind of a red herring here. A 14 year old who has been properly trained in the use of a gun isn’t a “child” for those purposes anyway. Even if you lock up your guns to keep them away from your “children,” the 14 year old probably would or should know how to get at them.

    So, sure, lock up your guns to keep them away from your “children” who don’t properly know how to handle them, and teach your kids to what to properly do with them by the time they’re 14, and you get the same outcome here.

  67. Uly, I’m not a troll but a regular blogger on this site who was just trying to make a point on an off topic subject.

  68. So I just picked the SWEETEST strawberries from our garden. They were GREAT!

  69. I think it’s great the boy was able to protect his siblings! Who knows if he had opened the door to the woman they might have jumped him right then and there to rob the place and the kids might have been hurt. There’s no way to know so I really don’t think whether or not he answered the door is an issue. I’m 26 and if my husband isn’t home and someone I don’t know knocks on my door I don’t always answer. I’m a young pregnant mother at home all day with my two young kids, and don’t always feel comfortable opening my door to strangers. My husband always has his gun on his hip when someone we don’t know knocks on the door(and anytime we are out in public), he’s a little paranoid sometimes due to death threats and such he has gotten from inmates at work…I feel sometimes it’s a bit silly to be so worried but then again I’m not the one having my life and my family’s lives threatened by scum where I work so I don’t comment and let him have the comfort of his weapon at his side.

    Anyway, we own guns, obviously. We love old WW2 rifles and enjoy going to shooting ranges. We keep them locked up far away from our kids. But once they are older we definitely plan to teach them all about gun safety and how to properly use them. Pretty sure the age kids can start hunting is 12, so not uncommon at all for a 14 yr old to know how to shoot. I hope to never have to shoot anyone, I feel for the boy cause that might be hard to handle for a bit, but he had the weapon and knew how to use it and did so…definitely a good thing! Thanks for sharing Lenore.

  70. @Rich-sounds yummy! I’ve never had fresh from the garden strawberries I bet they are awesome 🙂

  71. I would be surprised that a 14 year old would pick up a gun without a parental expectation that he would protect his sibilings/the house in that way. I think that is too heavy of a burden of responsibility to place on a 14 year old. If that’s the expectation and the kid is not able to pull the trigger and shoot another human being at the key moment are they then a horrible failure.

    I am all FR but that is not the same as putting life or death burdens on childrens shoulders. After peeling away all of the defending my castle bravado I have concluded that I cannot kill another human being. Since I was always taught never to point a gun at someone you aren’t planning to kill, there are no guns in my home. Adults can make other choices than I have, but it’s too heavy a burden for a fourteen year old. That’s why we don’t send them to war and oppose child soldiers as a society.

  72. There was a rash of burglaries, I think in the pacific NW, where they wanted people home. The would come in armed and hold people hostage while they robbed the place and left. I don’t recall if it was the same robbers or if it was a new MO that had gotten around.

    I’m really glad this teen had whits to deal with the situation!

  73. yosteff — you realize the realistic alternative here is putting the burden on the 14 year old of helplessly watching his younger siblings be harmed — unless you don’t ever want to leave a 14 year old in charge when there’s the tiniest risk of that happening.

    If your choice is that it’s better to risk that than to place the burden of defense on the child, I think that’s a fair choice to make. Just realize there is no choice that comes exempt from potentially leaving a heavy burden on the child, other than never leaving him in charge at all. One of the persistent themes of Free Range is that there are very few choices in this world where one option is entirely safe and without a downside.

  74. @pentamom The risk of kids being home during a robbery are miniscule. Not a reason to stop them from being home. It seems like posters here are lauding the child for shooting the intruder. My point is that I would never expect a kid that age to make that choice. All of the kids hiding in a crawl space while the burglars took everything out of the home may have been an equally valid course of action. Or evacuating the house via a fire escape route.
    Frankly trying to defend his siblings and missing or being unable to pull the trigger could have also been a valid course of action. My point is not that kids can’t do extrodinary things as an ordinary course of events. My point is that having a cavalier attitude about the “castle doctrine” and “why would the kid need therapy for doing the right thing” is crossing the line and treating competent and able children as miniature adults, they are not. One of the things I do to help my child be Free Range is to tell her, it’s OK to make decisions, make the best one you can. If that decision is not right, because your not an adult and can’t see all possible paths and consequences then it is my job as your parent to help fix it. I applaud the kid for doing what he thought was right. Hopefully he feels good about fighting back. I don’t second guess his decision at that moment but I hope the parents did not put an expectation upon him heavier than it should have been.

  75. Yosteff — yes, the risk is minuscule, but as you see, it happened. The risk of a kid who is “placed in the position” of having to defend his siblings is minuscule, also.

    But that’s the choice — you place the kid in the position of being able to defend his siblings, or in the position of being unable to defend them, or not place him the position of being in charge at all. There is no fourth choice, when it comes down to it. That’s all I’m saying. I’m not sure you should go from posters saying “I’m glad the kid was there and able to do what was necessary” to assuming that people have a “cavalier attitude” and thinking that 14 year olds shooting other people is a happy, everyday occurrence, But it’s one of the possible choices, and “leaving the kid in charge with zero of danger occurring that he’ll either have to respond to or be helpless in the face of,” isn’t.

  76. Why are some of you coming off as defending the burgulars?

  77. @pentamom So lets leave the guns out of it because that issue gets people “up in arms” and maybe then you will see my point. Let’s say the 14 year old was at home with the two siblings and a fire broke out. The only expectation that I have is that the 14 year old tries to get his siblings and himself out of the house. I do not expect that, 14 year old to attempt to put out the fire, even if that is something I might do. i do not expect that 14 year old to save the pets, even if that is something I might do. Frankly and painfully, I also don’t expect the 14 year old to walk through a wall of flames to protect their sibling and rescue them from the fire. While children can be heroic, they do not have to be. I kind of felt like the responses put a lot of weight on the kids shoulders. If the 14 year old froze and couldn’t act, would that be equally acceptable to you or are they responsible for caring for the other kids, cause that is a lot of weight for say a 12 year old, or and 11 year old to bear.

  78. I agree with the 14 year old’s actions in keeping his sibs and household safe. I’m also relieved that he didn’t kill the intruder and not for the intruder’s sake, but for the teens. I’m sure that taking a life would have impacted him in some way, shape, or form that would have been sad for him to even go through, because of the intruders poor decision making abilities.

    I’ve just been informed that my neighborhood is going through a rash of random kick in the door style break-ins. We’re on alert as a neighborhood, deciding to get together more frequently in order to discuss neighborhood safety measures and my neighbors know that my teen boys 14, 15 will be at home alone this summer during the day. As far as leaving a child home alone, I don’t think anyone should pass judgment. You don’t know how long the child was alone or why they were alone. Apparently he knew what to do, which means he was probably parented correctly.

    Kudos to Heather P for allowing her 10 year old the freedom, with instruction, and armed with a cell phone to attend mass, because she wanted to. Anthony…you’re out of line, and I remember how nervous I was at letting my then 11 year old attend drama camp for an entire month by taking public transportation like…2 miles away. That was the summer he began cooking for himself. LMBO!! I also let my daughter, who was 13 at the time, attend middle school 3 counties over, where she had to take a light rail and bus to school and back. I was criticized by my family, but my kids are way more logically independent than theirs are. lol My kids have this thing called, “common sense”.

  79. For anyone who is interested, the Arizona Republic posted an update to this story today. This story contains details taken from police reports, as well as reported testimony to the police by the alleged assailant.


  80. I have a few observations:

    1.) I fail to see why it should matter whether the bad guy was armed with a gun or not. breaking down the door and entering a home against the will of the homeowner is a violent act in and of itself. A 37 year old man can do massive amounts of harm to a 14 year old boy if he is properly motivated, and your typical residence is chock full of weapons that this guy could have gotten his hands on at any given time. I’m 32 and a big man, and in this situation, I’d fell exactly the same way. i’m not going to get into a physical confrontation with a guy that just broke down my front door. he could have a knife, or just be stronger and faster than me. If I have innocents to protect, the worst thing I could do is put myself in a situation where the bad guy could beat me and then have his way with those in my charge. Nope, he gets shot outright immediately after I verbaly warn him that any action other than turning around and leaving the way he came in will get him just that.

    2.) The idea that this kid could have avoided confrontation if he’d just locked himself in a bedroom and called the police is laughable. No one here knows what this guy’s intentions were (and the kid certainly could not have), and if he can break down the front door (usually the most secure door in a home) he can certainly break down what was likely a hollow core interior door to gain access to the kids. The police are usually minutes away, and this guy only needed seconds to hurt these kids if he’d been so inclined.

    3.) TO those that suggest that “had a parent only been in the home…yadda yadda” I fail to see how an adult could have handled this situation better. If someone breaks down your front door, whether you’re 16, 8, or 53, you do exactly what this kid did – get the innocents to a safe place, call the police, arm yourself, and set yourself up between the bad guy and the innocents. Why his age has any bearing on his actions other than to make them that much more heroic, I’m not sure.

    4.) This kid’s parents are awesome. He knew where the gun was, had access to it, and knew how to use it. The “devil gun” theory never held water for me because the day I was old enough to shoot, I was shooting with my Dad. There was always a gun available to me any time I felt the need, and I’d been trained and prepared to use it if i needed it. At six years old, I could have easily put a gun to good use to protect my family if the need had ever arisen, and amazingly enough, i never shot myself or anyone else. I keep my guns under lock and key, but easily accessible – the competent people in my home that know how to use them all have the quick combo to the pop-open safe in the bedroom.

    5.) The pointing of a gun is deadly force. The kid responded effectively and proportionally to that and should be lauded for it.

    6.) I don’t know the guy or his circumstances, and I don’t really care what they were. If he is in the habit of breaking into homes and menacing the people therein, he got what he deserved, and there is a big part of me that is disappointed that he survived.

    7.) This should stand as proof that young kids can and do do a good job of watching their younger siblings every day.

    8.) Get a gun. learn how to use it. They are very enjoyable and fun, and have the added effect of protecting you and yours against the goblins of the world, of whom we unfortunately have no shortage.

  81. Want to reiterate a point in my TL:DR above – Since we don’t know the disposition of the gun in question, we can’t assume that all the kids int he hoime had access to it. My Dad had a quick-open combination safe in his bedroom with a fully loaded .357 magnum in it. I think I was 10 when he gave me the combo and swore me to secrecy, because I had shown him that I was fully capable of emptying that gun downrange with accuracy and safety at that age. My brother did not get the same info until he was 12. My two little sisters never had it for as long as I lived at that home, but they were 10 when I moved out. My point is that this 14 year old has obviously demonstrated that he knew how to use the gun, so his having access to it didn’t mean necessarily that the other younger or less responsible kids in that home also had access to it. There is no reason that I know why a 14 year old that has demonstrated the ability to handle a firearm should be excluded fro getting one if he needs it.

    I was hunting at age 8, for those who are wondering, and since it was mentioned earlier in comments. It all depends on the kid – like I said, my brother was a little behind me in demonstrating competence, so he wasn’t allowed to handle guns without Dad around until he was 12.

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