This past Thursday morning an Indianapolis man shot a suspected home invader following a physical altercation between the two men, local media reports.
Howard Murphy, the homeowner, hid in his pantry when 39-year-old Kocho Long broke into his kitchen via the backdoor. It was the second time that week Murphy’s home had been invaded, though the first time he wasn’t home.
Murphy confronted the would-be burglar. The two man began to fight until Long attempted to strike Murphy with an object, that’s when Murphy fired his gun striking Long in the leg.
“Either I was going to get hurt or he was going to get hurt,” Murphy told 24-Hour News 8 Reporter Jessica Smith. “I know I didn’t want to get hurt in my own house.”
“If I can work for what’s mine, then people like that can work for what’s theirs,” Murphy continued. “I feel bad about what happened, but in the same token my life was in danger in the kitchen.”
Long is in custody. According to reporters, it’s not his first run-in with the law.
What’s fascinating about this defensive gun use (DGU) story is that it appears Murphy hesitated to shoot Long at first. Instead of immediately opening fire on the intruder, Murphy apparently let Long get close enough to physically engage him.
I’m speculating here, perhaps Murphy was just overcome by the moment and didn’t deliberately opt not to fire on Long. Whatever the case may be, it raises the question of whether one should shoot first or attempt to de-escalate the situation during a home invasion.
Obviously, every situation is different. No two break-ins are alike. So, the obvious answer is: “It depends.” That said, I think there is a common denominator in every self-defense or home invasion scenario, which is the desire to immediately assess the threat. Right?
How much of a threat is the intruder? How well are you prepared to deal with the intruder in that particular moment? Are you armed? Is he armed? Is he bigger than you? Can you see him clearly? How close is he to you? Is he alone? Are you alone? Upon seeing you, does he take an aggressive posture? Is he preparing to fight? Is he attempting to flee? Etc.
Assuming you have gun in hand, and you take the intruder by surprise as Murphy did to Long, do you give a command in an attempt to de-escalate the situation and use non-lethal force to subdue the suspect,”Hands up, get on the ground!” or do you simply open fire until the threat is neutralized?