When to shoot: homeowners protecting themselves against intruder - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

When to shoot: homeowners protecting themselves against intruders

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

The suspect involved in a deadly home invasion in Prince Edward County continues to elude police. Three armed men had stormed into a home early Sunday morning. A father, home with his 2-year-old son, shot at the intruders, killing two of them. The third suspect fled, and is still at large.

This story generated hundreds of comments in support of the father who defended himself and his baby on NBC12's Facebook page.

However, there are instances when homeowners should hold their fire. Regardless, experts say Virginia is one of the leading states in protecting homeowners, who are trying to protect themselves.

Robert Kenley, of Chester, says he's not taking chances in protecting himself or his family. He keeps his handgun underneath his bed.

"You never know, you just don't," said Kenley. "We've had break-ins in the past, around this area."

However, Kenley says there are instances when he wouldn't readily pull the trigger. "I'm not going to just shoot through a door because I hear somebody."

NBC12 legal analyst, Steve Benjamin, says Virginia law will likely protect a homeowner defending himself with a deadly weapon, in the event of intruders.

"You can take their life, if necessary, to save your own," said Benjamin.

Benjamin says a person can defend himself against a stranger breaking into their home, even if they're not sure if that person is armed.

"You don't have to know whether they have a weapon or not. You're actually kind of allowed to presume that they do, that they're in there for a very bad and evil purpose," said Benjamin.

One instance where the law won't protect a homeowner, is if the intruder is already retreating and leaving, with his back to the homeowner.

"(If) they're clearly leaving the home, running away… you're not allowed to shoot them in the back," continued Benjamin.

Benjamin says that overall, Virginia has some of the best laws in the country for defending homeowner's rights to self defense.

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