Imagine coming home to find that your house had been burglarized. You feel betrayed and personally violated and in the case of 61 year old New Hampshire resident Dennis Fleming, irate.
After finding his house had been broken into, Fleming picked up his .38 caliber handgun and headed out to see if any of his neighbors had seen anyone suspicious. Approaching one of his neighbor’s home, he happened to find 27 year old Joseph Hebert coming out of the house. Hebert was carrying a backpack that was full of items from Fleming’s house and the neighbor’s house. Fleming ordered Hebert to stop and ended up firing a warning shot into the ground to the left of where Hebert stood. Hebert stopped and was held at gun point until police arrived on the scene. But what surprised and shocked Fleming was that the police not only arrested Hebert , but they also arrested Fleming later the same day for firing the warning shot into the ground.
Dennis Fleming explains,
“I fired into the ground, to the left of him. There was nothing but woods behind him. I’ve owned guns my whole life and I pretty much was sure what I was doing.
“I saw the guy, he crash-banged out of a house right down the road here and I happened to see. I approached him with a gun, told him to stop, [and] fired a warning shot.
“I just wanted him to take me serious. He did.”
The police have charged Fleming with felony reckless conduct, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison. Asked about the charges, Fleming said,
“Even knowing what I face, I would do it again. I’m hoping it won’t come to [prison], but I’ve got broad shoulders, so I’ll deal with it.”
Fleming’s neighbors think of him as a hero and not a criminal and are appalled by the felony charge facing him. One neighbor, David Bernardini said,
“For what little we have nowadays, and people just come and take what you got, I think it was good that someone finally did something about it.”
Don’t know about you, but I would have done pretty much the same thing Fleming did. If I saw someone burglarizing my home or one of my neighbors, I would have called police and tried to stop the burglar also. And if the burglar didn’t stop, I would likewise fire a warning shot into the ground.
It’s disheartening to see more and more homeowners and citizens being arrested for defending themselves and their property against others who have no regard for person or property. Back in America’s early days, Fleming could have shot and killed Hebert and he would have been justified in the eyes of the law. In today’s world, the criminals seem to have more rights than law abiding citizens do, which is a sad commentary on the degradation of American society and justice.