Shooting Justified? Man Charged with Murder After Shooting a 15-Year-Old Intruder

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Lovell

Jeffery Lovell, 42.  (Photo: Boston Globe)

This story is all about how you spin it.

In one telling, Jeffery Lovell, 42, killed 15-year-old Dylan Francisco after the teenager and a friend mistakenly knocked on Lovell’s front door. Lovell acted recklessly and should have tried harder to communicate with the high schoolers before firing his weapon.

In another telling, Lovell feared for his life after two intoxicated individuals began banging on his front door in an attempt to enter his home. He tried (unsuccessfully) to communicate with them, called the police, and only fired one round after the teenagers succeeded in breaking a pane of glass. Lovell was right to defend himself and his property, and had no way of knowing the intent of the teenagers.

Lovell’s future depends on which version of the story the jury believes, as the Massachusetts resident will face murder charges that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

However the jury decides, several facts are without a doubt.

According to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office, on July 16, 2016, around 1 p.m. Francisco and a friend mistakenly began knocking on Lovell’s front door. They had been drinking at a nearby residence and believed Lovell’s house to be that of a friend. Lovell “attempted to communicate with the victim” and called the police. Francisco continued his attempts to enter the premises and “knocked” with such force that he managed to break a pane of glass.

When police arrived at the scene they found Francisco with a gunshot wound to the chest. He passed away at Baystate Medical Center later that day.

Verb choice is crucial to this story’s presentation: did Francisco “knock” on the door or “bang” on it? Most media accounts—as well as that of the DA’s office—say Francisco and his friend “began knocking on the door.”

But the fact that the two boys broke a pane of glass suggests that the latter verb—bang—is more appropriate. The broken glass indicates that they were aggressively attempting to enter Lovell’s home, which helps to justify Lovell’s use of deadly force.

Despite these facts, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni has still chosen to bring murder charges. “This was a tragic and avoidable incident that resulted in a young man losing his life,” he said in a statement.

Hampden Assistant District Attorney Eduardo Velazquez agreed. “Certainly we have a situation here that was a homicide, and at this point it is our belief that it was not justified,’’ he said at Lovell’s arraignment in Chicopee District Court.

Unfortunately for Lovell, Massachusetts law seems to favor the DA’s office. State law says a person is justified in killing an intruder only if the intruder is “unlawfully in said dwelling” and was “about to inflict great bodily injury or death upon said occupant.” The fact that Francisco had not yet entered Lovell’s dwelling—and that he did not appear to be carrying a weapon—does not bode well for the MA resident.

We’ll keep you posted as to how this story plays out.

{ 53 comments… add one }
  • Grampy Tom November 25, 2016, 7:54 am

    Looks like a case of natural selection to me. Both too dumb to live.

  • Kimberpross July 25, 2016, 10:25 am

    This is a lesson to learn from. Everyone should go through a scenario and think about what to do so if it occurs, you are prepared. My thinking now is to tell the ones at the door, that you don’t know, that you are armed, and have called the police. Then set back in the room with firearm in hand and wait. If they break in and approach, time to neutralize the threat. Otherwise, let the police handle it. Even if that is the plan, they break in, approach and are shot, the shooter will still be run through the ringer and suffer for that action with prosecution in the liberal States, maybe not in the conservative states. Bottom line, it really needs to come to a life threat without question.

    • Steve September 1, 2017, 10:08 am

      I live in the liberal infested state of Ma. too. It’s scary to think you have to wait until a perp. is inside and almost upon you before pulling the trigger. Our plan is to retreat up stairs if possible and defend from the top of our stairs inside the house. That should keep us within the law, hopefully. 1 step on the stairs and hell gets unleashed upon them. Then the legal stuff begins anyway.

  • tinfoil hat davy July 24, 2016, 5:59 pm

    As a captive in a eastern state I cannot carry a weapon anywhere but in my residence and place of business. I don’t agree with our restrictive laws and eagerly await the day when finances will allow me to leave this bastion of idiocy and corruption. That said, this guy made a terrible error in judgment. The drunk teen broke the glass on his front door. He had not breached the door and was no immediate threat. The law was called, and five minutes patience would have made this a non-story. In the town where I grew up a man saw a couple of kids messing with his car and shot one of them dead with his .45 ACP. He will spend the rest of his life in prison. You need wisdom and self control when you carry a deadly weapon. Mr. Lovell was lacking both.

  • Shawn July 23, 2016, 10:03 am

    The amount of Monday morning quarterbacking on this of all sites is truly troublesome. First of all, people are speaking as if a 15 year old, regardless of size, has never broken into a home with malice aforethought. I’m not saying this teen had anything but poor judgement, most do. Secondly, to say that this man shouldn’t have feared for his life because the presumed threat had not yet entered his home is to say that someone should not be afraid of heights or enclosed spaces. No one knows what past life expriences may have lead to his state of mind when awoken (presumably) at 1 a.m. by an intoxicated man banging on his door, keeping in mind he had no way of knowing that this person was 15. This man’s life will be forever changed, no matter the legal outcome. I hope that none of us is faced with this decision.
    On another note, people like myself are forced to remain in a state run by tyrants due to economic reasons and family obligations. I doubt that many of you, despite your words, could just pick up and move if things changed in your state
    For the last part of my tyrade I will state that the person on trial for murder should be the person that supplied these teens with alcohol.

    Thank you, that is all

    • Eddie Ray August 9, 2016, 11:39 am

      The threat was still outside? No legal way to declare self defense.
      Take a covered position and fire a warning shot.
      This man is going to jail.
      Not murder,but unjustifiable homicides the very least.
      If you are going to arm your self with a firearm…..you better arm yourself with some knowledge too!
      Eddie

    • Edward Glenn July 21, 2017, 10:22 am

      Good comments, I agree.
      Another less fatal solution would to be yank the door open and douse them both with pepper spray.

  • Barry July 23, 2016, 12:04 am

    So if this guy was a cop and some innocent looking youths approached his vehicle and broke a window attempting to get a little closer to him and he shot one of them – would he be up on murder charges? Seems to me there is no consistency in the law of the land at all. In my opinion this guy had all the right in the world to shoot this punk- you only have one life and I believe you have the right to defend it to the best of your ability.

    • Brian June 9, 2017, 2:53 am

      You should sell your guns. You have zero concept of how the law is applied to a self defense shooting

  • terry July 22, 2016, 10:59 pm

    Sir, were where the rents? should they have left there child get drunk? they should be on trail for child abusers.

    • Ward July 23, 2016, 12:03 pm

      Dont you just love voice to text? NOT!

  • BR549 July 22, 2016, 8:36 pm

    Well, it’s interesting that all these attorneys and judges are so willing to participate in removing a persons rights, while letting off immigrants, repeat offenders, and stupid people like these kids for no reason at all. It is THEY who have created the atmosphere of insecurity for the average citizen (along with corrupt politicians). But when it comes it comes time to pay the piper, these ass-clowns all sit back and point the finger at the one guy they should have been creating a safe environment for in the first place.

  • Jackpine July 22, 2016, 8:18 pm

    15 year-olds can weigh 300#. I want a physical description.

    If they were twerps, no reasonable adult should fear for his life. And… no one should shoot blindly, ever, for any reason. I don’t care what state you live in, or what your state laws are.

  • Ed July 22, 2016, 6:46 pm

    I for one will not shoot anyone until I am sure of the threat. I won’t even shoot someone inside my home until I perceive the threat to be positively real. I have known at least one young teen who went into a home that he thought was his while drunk and fell asleep on the couch. The next morning the family got up and squared away the situation without mishap. Now, that is what I would do. I don’t necessarily think it should be required like that of all people out there. I just don’t think everyone has the same capability to address a given situation or the same fear level, yet the law requires it, it seems. For the most part, I don’t think people are trigger happy though it’s hard to tell sometimes when you read comments like above. I do believe the guy felt threatened for his life, or at least he didn’t think taking a chance to wait and see was worth it. Therefore, given the limited information here, I side with the man, though I wouldn’t have handled it like he did.

    • Donald July 23, 2016, 12:14 am

      I agree to a point Ed. The shooter shot the kid through the door I believe it says. Outside the house with a door between them, the kid was not a credible threat yet.

  • Larry Koehn July 22, 2016, 6:27 pm

    I have carried for 30 years, 25 of them in Atlanta Ga., and I have never had cause to deploy a weapon. Yes I have felt threatened and made it clear that I had a weapon to deploy but I have never felt that my life or anyone elses life was in danger. If the front door was still intact and no one had entered the house how can you testify with a straight face that you thought you or your family was endangered? Only the threat of physical harm allows you to shoot. A permit and gun does does not make you a special operator, a cop, or a cowboy.

  • Joseph Garnier July 22, 2016, 6:12 pm

    Why do people speak so lightly of taking a kid’s life? The kid was drunk and broke the glass on a window, but the door was intact and no one inside the house was harmed or in danger. People complain about the law in Massachusetts, but the gun owner lived there and was responsible to know when he could shoot and when he could not. He was ignorant of the law, therefore he was an irresponsible gun owner who gave the Democratic disarmers another case on which to hang their gun grabs. Maybe a requirement before buying a gun should be that the person knows the laws in his or her state, and won’t kill a foolish boy for property damage. Even if his crime is reduced to manslaughter, the kid is dead and will never get a chance to add anything good to the world. No one has the right to take a life unless there is clear and present danger that someone will be seriously injured or killed. All these yahoos with there statements about shooting someone for trespassing are too stupid to be responsible gun owners. Maybe you should have to take an IQ test to buy bullets.

    • Ceapea July 22, 2016, 10:11 pm

      Bullets are used to make cartridges. Cartridges are “rounds of ammunition”. Maybe you should have to take an IQ test to post replies.

      • Robinson November 25, 2016, 2:01 pm

        Thanks for your input, Tommy Technical. Have you been anal retentive your entire life? Here\’s something maybe you can relate to: Bullets are NOT used to make cartridges. Bullets are COMPONENTS of cartridges. TOOLS and MACHINES are used to make cartridges, not bullets. Maybe you should wait until your IQ breaks into the double digits before YOU post a reply.

        • Edward Glenn July 21, 2017, 10:33 am

          Why is every decent discussion allowed to deteriorate into this BS?

  • Rouge1 July 22, 2016, 5:13 pm

    He should get life just for being stupid enough to live in Assachusetts the stupid useful idiot.

  • WilliamDahl July 22, 2016, 1:19 pm

    As far as I’m concerned, if you are trespassing on my property, you are going to be greeted by a gun. If my dogs bark, I investigate and I’m armed while doing it. If it’s someone who has a legitimate reason to be on the property (utility repair worker, etc), no big deal. If it is at night, it’s not survival oriented to be trespassing on my property. My only hesitation for shooting through a door is that I will have to repair it afterwards. If the criminal has already damaged the door during his break-in endeavors, I’m a lot less hesitant about damaging the door. One of the things you have to be concerned about though is that while one group is distracting you at the front door, another group can be coming in via the rear door.

    • Kay B. July 22, 2016, 3:40 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly! No one seems to be pointing out that these teenagers should NOT have been drinking in the first place. I for one side with the home owner!

      • Chr2 July 24, 2016, 7:18 am

        Massachusetts has the dumbest gun laws. They infringe upon constitutional rights. It’s so like a blue state though. Just like dumbass jersey and their hollow point ban. This guy should not get charged. I’ve never broken a window in my life, and in this man’s shoe’s, I may have done the same thing. Without video evidence there is reasonable doubt. I couldn’t convicted this guy if I was the jury.

    • Ward July 23, 2016, 12:08 pm

      It is that type of logic that will get you in the same situation as the man in MA. Simple trespass is not a legal basis for brandishing or discharging a weapon; there must be a legitimate threat.

  • Joe McHugh July 22, 2016, 1:18 pm

    OK, rule of thumb. Do not injure or kill people outside of your door. If the armed intruder breaks into your home, and advances within 12-feet after being told to stop, aim for the center mass and pull the trigger. If the intruder is much bigger than you and rushes at you, pull the trigger. A person can cover the 12-foot distance in 1 1/2 second. A large and powerful person can snap your neck even faster, once he gets to you.

    If a person is still outside, refer to the second sentence of this post. I’m pretty sure that Mr. Lovell is going to spend some quality time in a cell with “Big Bruce”, who has special needs.

    • Kay B. July 22, 2016, 3:42 pm

      Not any more! Anyone who comes onto my property: uninvited, drunk, late at night and does damage to my property in order to enter my home will be shot!

      • Ward July 23, 2016, 12:10 pm

        To repeat earlier response, “It is that type of logic that will get you in the same situation as the man in MA. Simple trespass is not a legal basis for brandishing or discharging a weapon; there must be a legitimate threat.”

      • Brian June 9, 2017, 2:58 am

        And you will be going to jail. And have no business owning a gun

  • david July 22, 2016, 10:20 am

    All very sad…

    Here a guy felt threatened by two drunks banging on the front door. But the door was closed between them – keeping the threat outside. The drunks banging broke a window pane (assuming in the door). Felt more threatened. But the door was closed between them – keeping the threat outside. Nonetheless, shot through the closed door. Case closed.

  • Leighton Cavendish July 22, 2016, 8:52 am

    White on white…this will get little media attention.
    Murder…normally implies planning and pre-meditation…manslaughter may be a more appropriate charge in this case.

  • Tony July 22, 2016, 8:07 am

    Come on guys! I am pretty sure a lot of us got hold of our dads booze when we were underage, drank it as quickly as we could, and then did stupid shit. And years later we get to tell out friends over a beer some of those stories because they are funny. Think about the story this kid could have told about getting hammered, banging on the wrong door, guy inside called the cops who came and arrested him, maybe tasered him, and his parents had to go down to the station at 3am to get him. At 15 you can’t handle booze, and so an unarmed teenage boy is in the ground because of that and because some idiot discharged his firearm through a closed door. He could have gone high instead of chest level if he wanted to scare him away. I am a law abiding citizen and agree that the kid should have got into deep shit for breaking the law, including a kick in the ass from his dad, but what he got was a death sentence from a guy who gives all of us a bad name, and that is bullshit.

    • jim July 22, 2016, 9:33 am

      I tend to agree, but we weren’t there. It’s hard to judge what happened or see it from someone else’s perspective.

      I know I sure as hell wouldn’t live in Mass, though.

    • David Barnett July 22, 2016, 11:13 am

      The DA’s office is taking the word of a drunk over an adult civilian who was sober and afraid that the next thing to break would be his door frame and lock. I don’t think its a smart thing to do when you continue to let someone destroy your front door to gain access to your family’s home, their safty ground, there temple of security. Maybe the people who were in the house where drunko got so smashed that he didn’t know where he was should shoulder part of the blame !

    • Chris Baker July 22, 2016, 2:56 pm

      Where is that high shot you placed going to go? Does it hit and kill a person a couple of blocks over? Why would you not aim for the immediate threat? Personally I’d have yelled at them to go away or I’d shoot them but they would have to actually break the door open before I did. I think manslaughter is the highest reasonable charge. He was obviously frightened. He didn’t know if they were also armed and they might have kicked the door in and started shooting at whoever was there as far as he knew. I have a lot of sympathy for him and not much for the kid.

  • James Lockhart July 22, 2016, 8:04 am

    It must be comforting to rapists to know that if they break into a woman’s home and rape her but do not threaten “great bodily injury or death” that Mass. law gives them some protection. Someone said that liberalism is a mental disease and the Mass. legislature certainly gives the claim credibility.

    • Joseph Garnier July 22, 2016, 6:21 pm

      Rape is not a crime of sex, it is an act of violence, so a rapist could be shot. Don’t you guys get tired of flying off the handle and being wrong?

    • Eddie Ray July 26, 2016, 9:58 am

      The threat was still outside? No legal way to declare self defense.
      Take a covered position and fire a warning shot.
      This man is going to jail.
      Not murder,but unjustifiable homicides the very least.
      If you are going to arm your self with a firearm…..you better arm yourself with some knowledge too!
      Eddie

  • Eddie Ray July 22, 2016, 7:54 am

    The threat was still outside? No legal way to declare self defense.
    Take a covered position and fire a warning shot.
    This man is going to jail.
    Not murder,but unjustifiable homicides the very least.
    If you are going to arm your self with a firearm…..you better arm yourself with some knowledge too!
    Eddie

  • Joe July 22, 2016, 7:19 am

    The state should be charged with false arrest.
    You have the right to protect what is yours, such as your life and well being.
    The household that allowed those two minors get drunk are responsible for the entire situation and should be the ones being charged with murder.

    • Eddie Ray July 26, 2016, 9:52 am

      What? You never sneaked a couple of beers when you where a kid?
      It’s 1 in the afternoon,not 1 in the morning. Hone owner was very careless! Was not in immediate danger.
      This is open and shut murder/manslaughter . In almost any state.
      I live in Florida,we have awesome castle laws here. But this was beyond careless/ reckless. Just stupid!
      I believe we have a right to protect our selves. But we need to use at least a little common sense.

  • steve July 22, 2016, 7:08 am

    I think this guy will get some kind of reduced charge. BUT – he made a huge mistake by firing through the glass or front door. He should have had the 911 operator on the phone while all this was going on. Just call and set the phone own so it can be recorded. And he should have waited to see if this guy would step over the door threshold. Just like you can’t shoot anyone in the back, I would never fire at someone through a door/window. In my state (FL), that’s probably at least manslaughter. You HAVE to wait until the guy crosses the threshold, be inside the house, and THEN you can shoot em. This guy is screwed.

    • John July 22, 2016, 7:52 am

      No, here in FL one does not have to wait until the perpetrator crosses the threshold. We have several laws on the the books that state that you have the right to protect yourself and your property, that you do not have to back down, or that you only have yo have a reasonable fear for your life or property.

      Now, SHOULD he have shot through the window? Well, not being in his shoes, not knowing how scared he was… Remember, they had already broken in his window, depends on a lot of circumstances. But here in Florida, 99 out of 100 times, no charges would be filed, and if they were the judges would be required to dismiss them upon statements of the shooter and other evidence (broken glass, banging, etc.). It’s a shame a young life was lost, but until you are jarred awake in the early morning hours by a couple of drunks, trying (in your mind) to break in your door to do who knows what yo your family, you can’t judge the shooter because of feelings.

      • Eddie Ray July 26, 2016, 10:17 am

        The threat was still outside? No legal way to declare self defense.
        Take a covered position and fire a warning shot.
        This man is going to jail.
        Not murder,but unjustifiable homicides the very least.
        If you are going to arm your self with a firearm…..you better arm yourself with some knowledge too!
        Eddie

    • Chr2 July 24, 2016, 7:22 am

      Steve. Move back to mass. It’s clear you don’t have a permit or any knowledge of Florida gun laws

  • george July 22, 2016, 5:46 am

    In the first place, Massachusetts isn’t known for logically reasonable gun laws, a good reason to relocate. What’s the legal drinking age there? If juveniles consume alcoholic beverages, they are making adult decisions so they need to be held responsible for decisions as an adult. When the glass was broken, they were over the line and the consequences are what they are.

  • D Smith July 22, 2016, 5:13 am

    Typical liberal state run by idiotic cow. You elected them, you deal with it.

  • Steve July 22, 2016, 4:47 am

    If that were a cops house, the headlines would have read that someone was trying to break into an officers house and people would have looked at it as quite a dumb thing to do.

    But if a civilian is presented with someone repeatedly beating on his home, after he spoke with him, then continues to beat on his home, breaking an entry point exposing himself then it’s murder.

    Un freaking real. What if it were a mom, alone with her kids, fearing the worst. Someone is forcing themselves into the house. …and she’s not supposed to stop the threat???

    But a cop can.

    A cop can though

    I support all law enforcement, I feel EVERYONE has a right to protect themselves.

    This is not murder….this is a result of a reckless individual.

  • Brian July 22, 2016, 3:51 am

    I feel sorry somewhat for the shooter but I do believe firing our weapons to be our last resort and if the police were on their way then why not wait.
    We have all been drunk and have probably knocked on a wrong door, without breaking any window, and are definitely happy that we didn’t get shot.
    Once while playing block chase a man pulled a goose gun on my friend and I because 2 men he had put in jail 5 years prior had just gotten out and had promised to get him. Thank God he made sure of his target before using the weapon.
    God Bless the USA and Springfield Armory!

    • Chris Baker July 22, 2016, 3:02 pm

      Ah no. Several people have assumed that a teenager getting drunk on the beverages they stole from their parents is normal. It’s NOT. I don’t know anyone in my high school who did such stupid things. No I didn’t know everyone but a lot and it would have made the rounds had someone done something like that. Sooner or later they’d brag about it to their friends and that would let everyone know the story.

      So don’t put on us what you might have done. Most of us don’t and didn’t do that sort of thing.

  • Will Drider July 20, 2016, 11:04 pm

    Every person with access to a firearm and willingness to use it for self defense must comply with the Law regarding use of lethal force. At face value the drunk teens did not cross the “treshold” justifying lethal force. Mitigation may exist in the number and size of the people trying to enter your home inspite of your warnings. The more attackers you have entering, the higher likleyhood you won’t be able to stop them all. It is tactically beneficial to engage multiple attackers at a distance. Furthermore, it is unsound to allow multiple attackers to breach your only physical barrier before you react. If we consider shooting under stress as LE statistics show more rounds normally miss then hit. If reloading or a gun malfunction occured without the presents of a physical barrier, the homeowner could have been overcome by the group. Per legal definition what would a “Reasonable Person” do in the same circumstances. There may be some leeway there as the Law being applied does not specifically address “Multiple Threats” (persons).
    This Case may not fare well in local Court but may do better on appeals outside the State.

    • vERITAS July 22, 2016, 4:06 am

      i

    • Monica July 24, 2016, 12:09 am

      There were 3 teens, two male, one female.
      It was 1pm, that is afternoon not night.
      The homeowner works nights and was asleep.
      His wife woke him to tell him someone was pounding on the door.
      The (soon to be deceased) teen had gone to a second door on the side of the house when his knocks went unanswered.
      This is a common M.O. for breaking into houses, knock out front, move to less visible area to break in.
      The homeowner yelled a profanity and told the teens to go away.
      Glass was then broken in the door, giving possible intruders access to a deadbolt through the broken pane.
      Law Enforcement had been called, but were not yet on the scene.
      The excuse of thinking it was a friend’s house was produced by the two uninjured friends or accomplices.
      I am inclined to believe they might have actually been in search of more beer.

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