Every now and then something will come across the evening news and I just tilt my head to one wide and ask, “They did wha…?”
So here’s the story. Dennis Fleming of Farmington, NH, comes home to his 19th century farmhouse to find he has been burglarized. He spots 27 year-old Joseph Hebert, climbing out of a window at a neighbor’s home. Fleming shouted “Freeze!” before firing his gun into the ground, then held the would-be burglar at gunpoint until police arrived.
“I didn’t think I could handle this guy physically, so I fired into the ground,” Fleming said. “He stopped. He knew I was serious. I was angry … and I was worried that this guy was going to come after me.”
No one was hurt, but when police arrived they arrested Fleming on a charge of reckless conduct, which could potentially land him a jail sentence equitable to what the burglar would get. Fleming is scheduled to be arraigned March 20.
“I didn’t know it was illegal [to fire into the ground], but I had to make that guy realize I was serious,” Fleming said. “I’ve got a clean record. I really don’t want to be convicted.”
County Attorney Tom Velardi told Foster’s Daily Democrat he will review the case and determine if the charge against Fleming is appropriate under the state statutes regarding self-defense and defense of property.
Fleming, meanwhile, is hoping to catch a break.
Penny Dean, a spokeswoman for the Gun Owners of New Hampshire, said her organization is “absolutely outraged” by Fleming’s arrest.
“This homeowner fired at the ground, from all accounts, in a safe direction and held a burglar for police and did things correctly,” Dean said. “The fact that this man would be charged is an outrage. Burglars in New Hampshire must know it’s open season, since homeowners cannot defend themselves, as evidenced by this case. This is charging the victim.”
So, this guy did a service for his neighbor and the police by holding a criminal at bay waiting for local police to arrive. For his trouble he is arrested and now faces charges and the high cost of defending himself against those charges.
It’s just another symptom of what’s wrong with government and the gun-control argument.
I hope the District Attorney comes to his senses and drops these charges. Good luck seating a jury that would actually convict this grandfather of 14.