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Residents must use force with reason, police say
By Greg Gelpi| Staff Writer

Burglars might start thinking twice about breaking into homes in Richmond County with the recent spate of homeowners shooting intruders, authorities say.

Lakashia Walker was shot in the neck by a homeowner.
The latest came Friday morning when Frank Sams, 84, sat in wait on the back steps of his Grand Avenue home after a series of break-ins, according to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Shortly before 3 a.m., he fired his .38-caliber handgun, striking Lakashia Rochelle Walker, 23, in the lower neck after she attempted to break into his backyard storage building, Investigator Lt. Jimmy Young said.

The woman was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital in critical condition.

Ms. Walker underwent surgery and is stable, Lt. Young said.

It wasn't the first shooting in which homeowners have fought back.

On Wednesday, Army Capt. Barre Bollinger, an Iraq war veteran, shot and killed Errol Lavar Royal, 29, during a home invasion.

And on April 26, Justin Brent Haynie, 19, was shot when he broke into his neighbor's home. The 56-year-old woman shot him once in the chest with a .357 Magnum.

But when is it OK to pull the trigger?

Homeowners have the right to use "reasonable" force to defend themselves, said William Bowcutt, Richmond County chief assistant district attorney.

"You can only use deadly force if you are faced with deadly force," he said.

The word "reasonable" is the key, Mr. Bowcutt said.

It is reasonable for a homeowner to react with deadly force when faced with an unknown danger, such as an intruder, he said.

"You don't know if he's coming in just because he's cold. You don't know if he's coming in to butcher your children," Mr. Bowcutt said.

If the criminal is outside the home, it's much less reasonable to use deadly force, but it would depend on the situation, he said. The right to use violent force generally doesn't apply to property, Mr. Bowcutt said.

In an e-mail, District Attorney Danny Craig said neither the shooter in the Wednesday incident nor the shooter in the April 26 incident was committing a crime.

"When an act is justified by law, the element of criminal intent is negated and the act therefore does not meet the legal definition of a crime," he said.

Neither Mr. Sams nor Ms. Walker has been charged, Lt. Young said.

Mr. Craig said he has yet to review the Friday case.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or [email protected]

· Romans 10:13
4,800 Posts
Sounds to me that those folks are just fed up with the thugs in their neighborhoods and are doing something about it.
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