Midland, Texas

From Midland’s MyWestTexas.com of July 22, 2007

Homeowner shoots teen burglary suspect: Boy flees scene, seeks help after being shot with 12-gauge shotgun

A property owner fired a 12-gauge shotgun at a 16-year-old boy Saturday, who had just broken into the man’s rental house, police said.

“The owner is inside and the 16-year-old breaks in the front window,” explained Midland Police Department spokeswoman Tina Jauz. “And the homeowner confronts the suspect in the hallway and shoots him with a 12-gauge shotgun.”

After being shot, police said the boy fled the 204 South Jefferson St. residence in a van, and then flagged down officers at Louisiana Avenue and Main Street at about 1:15 p.m.

The gunfire grazed the boy’s shoulder and neck, police said.

He was seen wearing a bloody white T-shirt just before being transported to Midland Memorial Hospital, where police said he was listed in serious condition late Saturday.

Neither police nor the homeowner knew if the juvenile was armed, Jauz said, noting the boy immediately left the scene.

There had been recent break-ins reported at the unoccupied residence, Jauz said, and the owner was checking on the property when the shooting occurred. No trespassing signs can be seen curbside on the home’s windows.

Jauz said charges were pending against the juvenile, whose name was not released, but no charges were expected against the homeowner, whose name also was not released.

Midland County District Attorney Teresa J. Clingman declined comment on the case currently under investigation, but as a matter of clarification explained when the use of deadly force is legal.

“You are permitted to use deadly force to protect yourself or your property in very limited circumstances,” Clingman said. “You must first be justified in using force at all, and then to using deadly force against another to prevent the other’s imminent commission of several specific property offenses, like arson, burglary or robbery, or in the course of ‘hot pursuit’ to prevent such other person from escaping with your property.

“But, of course, only if you reasonably believe that deadly force is immediately necessary for prevention or recovery.”

Clingman said deadly force can only be used to prevent the perpetrator from fleeing after committing one of those crimes, if the victim believes property cannot be recovered by any other means, and when the use of force other than deadly force would subject you to substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

“In other words, in a situation of someone breaks into your home and they have a gun or a knife, etc.,” Clingman explained. “Everything is judged by whether the action was reasonable as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.”

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