Multiple Robbery Victim Sues Apartment Complex for Right to Bear Arms

(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Mike Doran.)

A 67-year old man is fighting his rental property owner and management company for the right to keep a firearm he shot an intruder with earlier this year, according to The Bangor Daily News.

Harvey Lembo, a resident of Park Place Associates of Rockland, Maine received a letter from the property management stating he could not have a gun on the premises and that keeping the gun would result in his eviction.

Lembo, a former policeman who is bound to a wheelchair, had only purchased the 7 mm Russian-made revolver about 12 hours before the break-in, but he had been robbed four times previously in his six years of residency at Park Place, with the last break-in occurring a month before when medications and $1,000 in cash were stolen.

Around midnight on Aug. 31 Lembo awoke when he heard someone in his apartment. When he saw a shadow pass by going into his living room, he pulled out the gun from under his pillow and then confronted the intruder, who was searching through his medications.

When asked what he was doing, the intruder had the gall to reply, “Robbing you, just like everyone else.”

“I told him to sit down while I called police or I would blow his brains out,” Lembo said.

The intruder, later identified as Christopher Wildhaber, complied and sat on a coffee table while Lembo called 911, but then Wildhaber jumped up and Lembo said he fired a shot. The intruder fled but left a pool of blood behind. The Rockland police later caught Wildhaber in nearby woods.

Wildhaber has quite the rap sheet. In 2011, he was convicted of domestic violence assault and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. In February 2015, he was convicted of felony domestic violence assault and sentenced to three years. Wildhaber was then ordered to serve three years of probation upon his release.

In his lawsuit, Lembo seeks to block the property owner and management company from evicting him. It also demands the gun ban overturned and seeks monetary damages for the actions against Lembo.

Lembo has the support of numerous gun rights advocacy groups, including the NRA, says his attorney Patrick Strawbridge.

“Threatening to evict Mr. Lembo for defending himself clearly violates his constitutional rights,” said NRA Maine State Liaison John Hohenwarter. “Self-defense is a fundamental, God-given right that belongs to every law-abiding American — no matter their tax bracket, zip code or street address.”

“Furthermore, Article 1 Section 16 of the Maine Constitution echoes this sentiment by stating: ‘Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.,’” added Hohenwarter.

But the management group apparently disagrees. Russ Gagne, director of finance, told the Bangor Daily News that firearm prohibition is part of the house rules for living in the apartments, and tenants must sign a lease agreeing to those rules. He also said most housing developments have similar prohibitions.

“This is to ensure the safety of all tenants,” Gagne said. He said also that the management company was conducting its own investigation on the burglary and would come up with solutions to ensure the safety of the residents.

Do you think the property rights of the owners trump a resident’s Second Amendment right to protect himself?

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Watchdog January 10, 2017, 10:26 pm

    The thief has been chatting with his misguided minions-need some drug money go rob our neighbor-if this thug had not been stopped the abuse to the ex-officer would never stop. Offenses-you can multiply the on record ones by 5-10 times.

  • tweedmus September 9, 2016, 10:45 am

    As what was written in the lease is against the law, it is inherently null and void, no matter what he signed. This is a tactic used by many landlords to con tenants and a slam dunk for the plaintiff.

  • Blair November 21, 2015, 7:32 am

    Why stay after being victimized so many times? Just move somewhere your rights and preferences are accepted !!! Problem solved !!! That’s what I do , solve problems . Your welcome

    • Mr. Sparkles February 23, 2016, 12:28 pm

      Blair –

      Your proposed solution sounds good on the surface, a lot like the flawed concept of improving personal security of victims by disarming them. The option of moving is not a viable one for most of these people and I submit that your glib response is not the help that I suspect you intended to offer.

  • Watchdog November 20, 2015, 11:37 pm

    I bees robbin yu like all the other punks and cause you don’t get to have a gun-whhoooops-what bees dat in yo hand ?
    My bad—

  • rev_dave November 20, 2015, 1:38 pm

    Property owners who restrict self-defense should be sued every time there is a burglary or assault – for damages, losses, injuries, and for punitive damages as well. They’d change their songs pretty quickly – as soon as the first one loses more than a few thousand bucks.

  • Old Marine November 20, 2015, 12:16 pm

    Another “solution” is, since the establishment is actively denying their residents their right to self defense, obviously they have legally assumed that duty. Therefore, since their business has a very bad security problem, which puts the lives of their tenants in continuous peril, what is needed is a class action lawsuit, for all damages and for mental anguish for the multiple assaults on the residents. The establishment must be forced to provide security IMMEDIATELY, obviously armed, to protect the residents. If these residents had my lawyer, they would own the place and could form a cooperative to make the rules and protect themselves. The residents MUST bring legal action against the owners, ASAP. However, in the mean time, continue to arm themselves, perhaps even providing their own, roving security teams, as per neighborhood watch type programs.

  • Warren Wilson November 20, 2015, 12:14 pm

    If the property managers were really interested in tenant safety, they would give a discount or rent credit to concealed carry licensees.

  • Huck Fillary November 20, 2015, 10:15 am

    Simple solution: Arm up, tell no one.

  • David November 20, 2015, 7:59 am

    No property owner can violate state and US Constitutions.

  • Phil November 20, 2015, 6:26 am

    I’m not the expert on law, but I am pretty sure my 2nd Amendment rights trump their idiotic paragraph on a lease agreement stating that I cannot own a firearm while living in their community. After 4 breakins, they didn’t seem to worry too much about his safety, nor do much of anything regarding security in this apartment community. He will definitely win this case and he should sue the hell out of them for allowing such lax security to begin with. Seriously?… 4 effin breakins in such a short time? Yeah… tell me I can’t own a firearm to protect myself and my property… I dare you… so many dumbasses out there!

  • Will Drider November 20, 2015, 2:42 am

    The lease firearms restriction sounds like what is mandated in public assistance housing projects. If a contract (Lease) violates Federal or State Law the the party mandating the violating contractual provision could be subject to criminal and civil action. A slum lord can be held accountable for not maintaining the property. When a mandate removes a level of safety and security for persons and property, subjecting them to a lesser level of protection then their counterparts in other dwellings within the community: the entity placing the restriction must provide fo it. This is often seen at manned security access gates or rent-a-cop security vehicle patrols. Due to the frequency of crime endured by this one complaintant, effective security was not evident. As such the renter (who purchased the firearm well after signing the lease AND after being victimized) is well within his Rights. Every non felon tenant who has been contcontractually disarmed/arms restricted and victimized while in residence should file a class action lawsuit.
    As far as the round being fired through a common wall into another apartment, are we not accountable for our actions? Shitty how the idiots also threaten eviction or fines when you fly a Flag or put a Support Our Troops sign in the window.

  • Mark N. November 20, 2015, 12:25 am

    The Second Amendment, as is the First, a guarantee against GOVERNMENT infringement, not a bar against private conduct. With limited exceptions (discrimination based on prohibited characteristics–sex, age, religion, national origin, etc.) there is no right of action against private persons for interfering with constitutional rights. Therefore, the landowner has the legal right to bar firearms on his property. Is it stupid? No argument here. But it is not a violation of constitutional rights as a matter of law. On the other hand, I think that a good argument might be made that a landlord should have no power to ban legal conduct taking place inside a rental unit, whether that is living in sin, or owning guns. n[To which the landlord will respond that private living/sexual arrangements do not threaten the safety of other residents, but bullets have the ability to penetrate walls, thereby presenting a direct threat of harm to other residents.]

    • Jamie November 20, 2015, 9:12 am

      Interesting argument. So the bakery owner (private business) that refused to make a cake for a gay wedding loses his business. Supposedly to protect the rights of the consumer… Proof that private entities are not immune from guaranteed rights. The government cannot make laws infringing our right to bear arms, and this would include laws that would allow a private entity to infringe those same rights!

    • Mr. Sparkles February 23, 2016, 12:34 pm

      Mark N. –
      You might want to check on who signed your law degree.
      A landlord is not immune from the need to abide by laws and the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution is included in this. Imagine if a landlord could use your logic put forth in your response; he could rent to only those members of his chosen race, religion, creed, color, hair color, eye color, right vs left handed, etc.
      Silly rabbit, bullsh*t is for cows.

  • taxx73 November 19, 2015, 11:52 pm

    I’m just glad that in Michigan landlords can’t do this. I hope this guy gets everything he asked for in his lawsuit and more.
    What’s next? Are you just supposed to let the bad guys win? I don’t think so. LEAVE OUR RIGHTS ALONE!!!!!! !!!

  • Mike November 19, 2015, 1:05 pm

    I’m all for the landlord- Why can’t they force you to revoke your 2nd Amendment rights? While they are at it, they should require all tenants to give up their rights to vote, associate freely, and hell- worship as well.
    This story bugs the hell out of me. Why isn’t the property owner behind bars for running such a dangerous property?

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