Home invasions are unpredictable in a variety of ways, that’s why they’re so terrifying.
Some people have ideas about being John Wick, that if home invasions occur they will spring into action and tactically shoot many bad men in a tactical fashion. They will be well-dressed, wearing black of course, and execute several helicopter kicks while shooting bad guys.
No. You won’t.
You have no idea how you’ll actually handle it. Some people are somewhat cool and collected, while other people panic.
What do real-life accounts actually tell us? Well, let’s go over a few.
Home Invasions: The Twain Thomas Incident
Twain Thomas, of Pocatello, Idaho, went on a rampage in Feb. 2014. He entered several apartments in the complex he lived in, according to the Idaho State Journal. After upstairs neighbor James Cvengros saw glass flying from a window Thomas had broken, he started filming on a video camera.
After hearing the commotion from a downstairs apartment that Thomas was trying to enter, you can see in the video that Cvengros locks the door. He fumbles at the locks, practically shaking.
As Thomas starts to kick in the door, he gives him a verbal warning at the top of his voice to stop. When it became clear the warning wasn’t getting through, he shoots Thomas three times.
Listen to Cvengros in the video; he isn’t angry, or grimly set to the task of defending himself and dispensing bromides worthy of Clint Eastwood. Cvengros sounds like he’s almost close to crying after it happens, exasperated at being put in that position. He settles down after it’s clear that Thomas isn’t a threat anymore, even reconciling the action with the man who just beat down his door and came at him and his girlfriend with a machete.
Reports state Thomas had kicked Cvengros’ door in several months prior as well, leading Cvengros to buy the firearm.
Thomas had severe mental disturbances, possibly as a result of past traumas that induced him to his crimes. He survived the three shots to the chest and is now serving five to 10 years for attempted second-degree murder, among other crimes.
Home Invasions: The Cynthia Bulk 911 Call
Cynthia Bulk’s Phoenix, Ariz., home was invaded in May of 2014 by one Michael Lewis.
Bulk, according to AZcentral, was taught how to shoot by her late husband and kept a .38 Special in the home. When she heard Lewis trying to get in her home via both doors, she called 911 and asked for police to be sent to her home. The dispatcher kept her on the line while police were en route.
Eventually, Lewis gained access to the home and a brief struggle ensued as he began assaulting her. Bulk fired a single shot, which caused Lewis to drop. He spent a month in hospital recovering. He later received a one-year sentence in prison and several years probation.
Bulk’s terror is palpable. She doesn’t shoot until Lewis is right on top of her, hitting her with a gardening tool.
Lewis has a history of mental health problems, homelessness and drug abuse, according to reports. Bulk, as of Sept. 2014, was having a hard time. Traumatized by the incident, she found it impossible to return to work.
Home Invasions: The Sarah McKinley Incident
Some may remember the incident involving one Sarah McKinley, which occurred in late 2011/early 2012 in Blanchard, Okla.
McKinley, then 18 years old, was at home with her 3-month-old infant on New Year’s Eve, only a few days after her husband had died of cancer. Two men — one Justin Martin and one Dustin Stewart — tried breaking into her home.
The two men knew of McKinley’s circumstances and, according to reports, were believed to have targeted the home to steal pain medication prescribed to McKinley’s deceased spouse.
McKinley was on the phone with dispatchers for more than 10 minutes, awaiting first responders. She gave the baby a bottle, and armed herself with a shotgun and a pistol. The dispatcher told McKinley she couldn’t advise her to shoot in defense of herself, but to do what she had to in order to defend herself and her baby.
When Martin and Stewart entered the home, she fired. Martin died at the scene. Stewart was initially charged with felony murder — if anyone dies during the commission of the crime, any person committing that crime can be charged with the death even if unarmed at the time — but later pled guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary, according to KOCO.
Stewart received 10 years, but authorities suspended the sentence as they believed he wasn’t a danger to society. He was, however, placed on probation.
McKinley, incidentally, approved of the deal, as she just wanted to move on with her life.
Lessons From These Home Invasions
There are thousands of reports of home invasions out there; these are just three. A bit of time spent on Google can show you all kinds of things. That said, let us take a few things from these incidents.
People act differently under stress. You probably don’t know how you will act until the moment of truth. All three were emotionally distraught, to some degree, after doing so. Action heroes are only in the movies. In real life we are more complicated and certainly fragile.
The two that called 911 pleaded for authorities to arrive. In both cases, they didn’t until it was all over. You cannot depend on police in these instances, unless you live next door to the police station.
In the aftermath, the man in the first example was actually able to reason with his attacker after shooting him, confirming he was justified in doing so.
The second victim was emotionally traumatized by her attacker.
The toughest of the three was an 18-year old girl from the sticks. She was logical and collected in the 911 call. She didn’t even object to one of the burglars being given what many would deem a slap on the wrist.
In all instances, the actual events during which the shooting occurred were brief. The build-up, while the attacker attempted to gain access or was otherwise known to be nearby, was much longer. It’s almost like a predator circling prey — the kill itself takes seconds, but the stalk takes some time.
All three only shot after a “trigger” of sorts; there was clearly an “if, then” decision made. Only after the intruder entered a certain proximity to the victim did they shoot. However, all three decided that if that person crossed a particular line, they would.
Another takeaway, therefore, is that the will to act if necessary is a component in defending yourself.