June 22, 2018
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Bangor burglaries and Georgia tragedy raise questions about shooting intruders

Renee Ordway
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

I’ll be truthful.

We have not always been good about locking our doors during the day.

For most of our time here we have not felt the need.

We have nearby neighbors.

For many years we had a busy house with kids and teenagers coming and going.

We have a dog that doesn’t appreciate strangers.

Truthfully, it was easier not to.

We have changed our ways.

One must figure if people will break into homes at night while the owners are sleeping, as has been happening in parts of Bangor, then they will certainly walk into your home in the middle of the day.

I believe that our community has changed and so must our vigilance.

It’s difficult for some of us to imagine how we might react if we woke up to find someone in our house or trying to break in.

After reading about the nighttime break-ins in Bangor, there also was the story of the retired and decorated United States Air Force officer in Georgia with Alzheimer’s.

A few weeks ago, he leashed up his two dogs and took a walk in the middle of the night and was shot dead when he showed up on the porch of a stranger’s home.

After jiggling the doorknob he had actually left the porch and was in the yard when the homeowner grabbed a gun and went outside to confront him. When he saw the man, he allegedly ordered him to stop but told police he kept coming toward him.

He fired several times.

One of the retired officer’s dogs laid across his body after he was shot and had to be physically removed by emergency personnel.

Local papers say the homeowner is devastated that he killed a decorated veteran who clearly did not know what he was doing, but Georgia has a “stand your ground” law.

The prosecutor’s office is struggling with whether to prosecute.

The veteran’s wife, a nurse by trade, is beating herself up because she didn’t hear him leave the house.

It’s a horrific story and one that resonates when people are breaking into homes around you in the middle of the night.

Maine does not have a stand your ground law, but it does provide the right to use deadly force to stop someone from criminally trespassing in your home if you have a reasonable belief that the person plans to commit a crime there.

The law does require that if you’re able to you should offer the person the opportunity to leave before you shoot.

It suggests to me that you indeed do have the right to shoot that person who may be breaking into your home in the middle of the night.

One has to wonder if those who are committing those crimes ever consider that possibility.

I sort of hope that my vocally aggressive mutt might be enough of a deterrent for them.

It takes a little something extra to break into someone’s home while they are sleeping.

This most recent spate of nighttime burglaries is perhaps one more indication that our community isn’t quite as it used to be — that it is indeed time to lock your doors in the day and at night — and at the same time hope that the extra vigilance we need doesn’t lead to a tragedy like the one in Georgia.

You can reach Renee at reneeordway@gmail.com.

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