A Neighbor I’d Like to Have

Here we have a Pasadena Texas resident named Joe Horn who witnessed two burglars breaking into his next-door neighbor’s house. He calls 911 to get the police out there, but before the cops arrive, the criminals attempted to make a getaway. The 911 operator wanted this guy to remain hunkered down in his house and let them get away. I suppose the 911 operators can’t encourage someone to put their life at risk, but that certainly doesn’t make it wrong to do so. I’ve seen several posts around suggesting Joe Horn committed murder, and that it was a some kind of “shoot first, ask questions later” situation, and that you don’t have the right to shoot someone for stealing another persons property.

As I see it, he had a right to confront these two men he saw break into his neighbor’s house, and when they then came after him instead of stopping and following his instructions, he had the right to shoot them dead, which is exactly what he did. The point is, he didn’t kill them for stealing, he merely attempted to keep them there, and they’d still be alive if they had stopped when he told them to. I don’t believe there should be a death penalty imposed by the government for anyone convicted of minor burglary, but if a cop or other citizen catches someone in the act, and the criminal attempts to respond with aggression, death of the criminal is a reasonable and understandable outcome.

If my house were being robbed during the day when I wasn’t home, I’d like to think a neighbor would have the courage Joe Horn did, and I would thank him–not call him a murderer.

Here is the audio of the 911 call. I think the video is just stock “neighborhood” footage.

And here’s a Houston Chronicle article.

This does remind me of the old joke: A man calls 911 and says two guys are breaking into his garage. The operator tells him that it will be a while because there are no officers available. The man hangs up, and calls back a few minutes later saying never mind, he’s already killed them. In less than a minute there are five police cars at his house and one cop, after subduing the burglar, says to the homeowner, “I thought you said you’d killed him!?” And the homeowner replies, “I thought you didn’t have any officers available!?”

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2 Responses to A Neighbor I’d Like to Have

  1. ktaylor says:

    Scott you don’t have the right to shoot someone for stealing at all. You have the right ( and I believe duty ) to confront the criminals and to try to stop them. Your right to defend yourself only comes into play when they attack or threaten you. The all important question that is not answered by the 911 tape is did the thieves threaten Mr. Horn or being under Texas law did they trespass on his property. ( Yes in Texas Its legal to shoot trespassers ) The tape can’t prove what the thieves did or did not do. I will say I hope Mr. Horn acted properly and the police can prove the shooting was legal.

  2. Scott says:

    Hmm, yes, re-reading my post I can see where you might think I was suggesting that you have the right to shoot someone for stealing. I should have added something like “which is true, but beside the point in this case” to that part. I thought I’d covered it in my explanation in the next paragraph, but it could have been clearer.

    Now this guy clearly made a bunch of mistakes in how he handled things. I’m sure him saying he was going to kill them is going to be a key part of the prosecution’s case. On the other hand, in some ways the fact that he was not parsing his speech for a defensive court case works to his favor in that he also clearly states that they came at him when he went out there and after warning them not to move or he’d kill them. Taken in context of his other statements, I don’t think it’s reasonable to believe he had the presence of mind to make that up right after shooting someone.

    You’re right, though–I reserve final judgment about the lawfulness of his actions until knowing more about the physical evidence.

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