Neighbor who shot at burglar may face charges

Published 03/12 2014 06:38PM

Updated 03/12 2014 11:12PM

BAKERSFIELD, CA - Sheriff's detectives are investigating whether a man who fired warning shots at a burglar Tuesday should be charged. But, his northeast Bakersfield neighbors say charging him would be a mistake.

Deputies say the man could face a charge of negligently discharging a firearm, but ultimately it's up to the District Attorney's office. But, some people who live on this street have already made up their minds.

The man told deputies his dog barking was the sound that made him look outside, where he saw a stranger carrying a big screen TV out of his neighbor's home. The Kern County Sheriff's Department said he called 911, and deputies took a report, but an hour later the burglar was back. The man told deputies this time the neighbor got his handgun, asked him to stop, when he didn't the man fired several warning shots, forcing the burglar to leave behind his haul which included bills and a laptop.

"I think he did the right thing," said O.J. Droppers, a 15-year resident of the neighborhood. "He stopped the robbery otherwise he would have cleaned everything out of the house."

Ray Pruitt, spokesperson for the Sheriff's Department, says his office cannot comment on the shooting, so we asked him in general terms, what rights do homeowners have?

"A person has a legal right to use deadly force when they feel that their life or somebody else's life is in imminent danger or death or great bodily injury," said Pruitt.

Neighbors who live near La Cresta Drive and Las Flores Drive said there's nothing to investigate.

"We have the right to protect our homes, and if he were a neighbor right across the street I'd expect him to do that for me, and I'd be willing to do to for him," said Janet Goff, neighbor.

Because in their quiet neighborhood, residents said they're a target.

"A lot of nice houses, nice things, older people, which is why they target us for robbery," said Droppers.

They think charging their neighbor will send the wrong message.

"I would be furious. I just think that would be the wrong thing to do," said Goff.

We tried to contact the man who fired the shots, but he was not home Wednesday afternoon.

Deputies are still looking for the burglar. They say a witness saw him leave in a white, full-size truck, a 1994 Chevy, with California license plate 5A31191.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Department at 861-3110 or the Secret Witness hotline at 322-4040.

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