It’s safe to say that the words “California city councilmen” don’t evoke images of gun-wielding neighborhood defenders.
But that’s exactly what one would-be home intruder stumbled upon in Fresno, Ca., when he tried to cross Councilman Luis Chavez.
“Out of the corner of my eye, I see this guy looking through my window, looks through my door, then the side window; then comes over here and tries to shimmy the door,” Chavez told the GV Wire.
Chavez recognized the man as the person who had previously broken into his home and stolen several of his belongings.
“Immediately, I go grab my gun,” Chavez said. When the burglar went around to the backyard, Chavez confronted him through the window with his gun raised.
“He sees me pointing the gun at him and immediately freaks out. That’s when I told him ‘don’t move’ and he just bolted and took off and I went after him,” Chavez said.
Most home owners would have called the police at that point, grateful to have repelled the criminal. But Chavez felt he had a duty to the people of his city, and he wasn’t about to let another bad guy run away.
“I know it’s not the protocol to follow,” Chavez told the Fresno Bee, “but I was so angry I had to do something. … I’m sick and tired of people who think it’s OK to break into homes and cars and steal property. It’s not right, and it’s so rampant across the city. I hear stories like this from constituents all the time.”
Chavez grabbed his keys and chased the intruder in his car, calling the police as he drove. He tracked the man as he fled through alleys and backyards until the police finally caught him about three-quarters of a mile from Chavez’s house.
Chavez credits the Second Amendment for giving him the ability to repel and catch the intruder.
“I’m a big Second Amendment guy,” he told the GV Wire. “I’m an NRA member. I believe in that. It proved to be true that time. I didn’t go out looking for trouble, but trouble came to my home. Luckily, I was armed and had an opportunity to defend myself and my family.”
It’s a good thing he did. According to Fresno police Lt. Mark Hudson, the would-be burglar could have been particularly dangerous.
“In this kind of case, where something happened on Wednesday and then he comes back on Sunday, it shows that this thief wasn’t too concerned about people being home – a ‘hot prowl’ case,” Hudson said. “These people can be dangerous.”
As to Chavez’s decision to chase the suspect, Hudson admitted it shouldn’t be the first priority for a homeowner.
“In this case, it sounds like (Chavez) was able to follow at a safe distance, and be on the phone to get the police officers to where this person was taken into custody,” Hudson said. “The first priority is to protect yourself in your home and call 911.”
But if one decides to follow, “keep at a safe distance and be a good witness,” Hudson added. “In this case, it ended well.”