Homeowner pursues suspected thief, shoots him
by Brent Whiting - Apr. 25, 2008 11:46 AM
The Arizona Republic
Police are sorting out a shooting that took place early Friday in northwest Phoenix, resulting in the wounding of a suspected auto burglar and the closing of 43rd Avenue south of Bell Road.
The injured man, who suffered wounds that were not life-threatening, was shot by an irate homeowner who told officers he gave chase and fired after somebody tried to break into his vehicle, police said.
There were no immediate arrests as investigators gathered evidence and tried to determine whether the shooter, under the facts of the case, was justified in using deadly force, said Detective Stacie Derge, a Phoenix police spokeswoman.
"Nobody is in custody," Derge said. "We have a lot of investigation to do. We will look at the circumstances of the whole situation and determine what charges will be filed."
Neither the shooter nor the wounded man was identified.
According to Derge, the incident began shortly before 5 a.m. outside a home in the 18600 block of North 31st Drive, northwest of Union Hills Drive and Interstate 17.
The homeowner told police that his car alarm sounded and he stepped outside to see what was happening. He said somebody tried to break into his car and he saw a man walking away from the vehicle.
The suspected auto burglar stepped into a pickup truck and drove away, while the homeowner got into his vehicle, a Pontiac, and gave chase, following the man through surrounding neighborhoods.
Eventually, police said, they ended up on 43rd Avenue south of Bell Road, where the homeowner fired several rounds into the pickup truck, wounding the driver at least twice.
Both the wounded man and the homeowner drove home. A female passenger in the pickup truck escaped unharmed.
When the wounded man arrived home, family members drove him to a hospital for treatment. The homeowner, who also had a passenger in his vehicle, was contacted by police at his residence.
Police closed 43rd Avenue between Bell Road and Paradise Lane as officers processed evidence, including car parts and shell casings scattered in the southbound lanes of the roadway.
In general, Arizona allows the use of physical and deadly force if a "reasonable person" believes it is immediately necessary to prevent crimes such as arson, burglary, kidnapping and all forms of murder and sex crimes.
Under a measure that Gov. Janet Napolitano signed into law in April 2006, people are justified in using deadly physical force if they reasonably believe their life or the life of another is in danger.
In the event charges are brought in such a case, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant claiming self-defense had acted without justification.
I think he should have called the police. He could have got his plate number. Would you get by with this in your state?