In Little Falls, Minnesota a man has been charged with murder after shooting two teenagers who had broken into his home.
Normally, my position on this sort of home invasion is to say that people who don’t want to be shot shouldn’t break into other people’s homes. But there are aspects of this case that go beyond Byron David Smith reasonable right to defend himself and his property.
The police report in the case is below. Here’s a description from the Star Tribune:
He heard glass breaking around noon Thursday while he was in the basement. It was the latest of several break-ins that he’s experienced. Brady started coming down the stairs, and Smith shot him with a rifle by the time he saw the intruder’s hips.
Brady fell down the stairs and was looking up at Smith when the homeowner shot him in the face.
“I want him dead,” Smith explained to the investigator for the additional shot.
Smith put Brady’s body on a tarp and dragged him to an office workshop.
A few minutes later, Smith heard footsteps above him. As in Brady’s case, Kifer too started down the stairs and was shot by Smith by the time he saw her hips, sending her tumbling down the stairs.
Smith attempted to shoot her again, but his rifle jammed, prompting Kifer to laugh.
Upset, Smith, pulled out a revolver he had on him and shot her “more times than I needed to” in the chest, he said.
Smith dragged Kifer next to Brady as she gasped for her life. He pressed the revolver’s barrel under her chin and pulled the trigger in what he described as a “good, clean finishing shot” that was meant to end her suffering.
Other facts complicating the case:
In Smith’s defense, this was apparently the sixth time his home had been broken into.
Muddying the waters around his case, though, is the fact that he waited a day with the dead bodies in his home before contacting law enforcement.
I am a staunch proponent of the right to keep and bear arms, and the right to self defense and the defense of property. That being said, if the way this story is being related is accurate, this sounds less like defense than execution. Smith shot the boy as he was coming down the stairs, apparently without having given a warning that he was down there and armed. He also killed both the boy and the girl after they’d already been incapacitated. The boy after he fell down the stairs after being shot, and the girl after she laughed at him.
Those are not the actions of a citizen merely concerned with defense. Those are the acts of a vigilante imposing his own sort of justice on the situation.
Barring mitigating circumstances or details, I don’t see how this is defensible.