More than 40 percent of Americans live in rental properties, and about 40 percent of renters live in apartment buildings. With a large number of people in such a relatively small area, apartment dwellers are far from immune to violent crime. Fortunately, many are aware of that fact and are willing and able to protect themselves.
Here are eight recent occasions when gun owners living in apartments used their firearms to save their own lives and/or the lives of others.
Jeremy Rossetto, 39, was in the stairwell of an apartment building when he got into an argument with two men and a woman. One of the men punched Rossetto. According to the police, one of the three then held Rossetto down while another beat him with a baseball bat. Fearing great bodily harm or death, Rossetto drew a gun he is licensed to carry and fired, killing two of the three attackers. (Green Bay Press-Gazette, Milwaukee, Wis., 4/3/14)
A homeowner was in bed in Chicago, Ill., when he was awakened by his daughter, who alerted him to a suspicious disturbance in a nearby apartment. The homeowner, who relies on crutches, went to investigate, unlocking a door between his home and the apartment which his daughter suspected had been broken into. He then returned to his bedroom to retrieve a firearm. When the homeowner returned to the unlocked door, he encountered two intruders who charged at him. The homeowner responded by firing at the criminals, striking and killing one, and causing the other and a third accomplice to flee the scene. Unfortunately, following the shooting, police discovered that the homeowner failed to fully comply with Illinois’ onerous firearms laws, having let his Firearm Owners Identification card expire. Police charged the homeowner with a misdemeanor. (The Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., 2/1/14)
Gonzaga University students Erik Fagan and Daniel McIntosh were at home in their university-owned apartment in Spokane, Wash., when a man came to the door asking for money. The man, who police later determined is a convicted felon, got aggressive with Fagan, who called to McIntosh for help. McIntosh, a Right-to-Carry permit holder, retrieved a pistol and came to his roommate’s aide. The aggressor fled once he spotted McIntosh carrying a firearm. Following the incident, the roommates alerted the Spokane Police and campus security to the situation. Despite plaudits from the Spokane Police Department, who said the students “did the right thing,” Gonzaga campus security confiscated the pistol, and a shotgun the pair also kept in their home. Further, the roommates were brought before the school’s discipline board and placed on university probation. (The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash., 11/11/13; The Associated Press, 11/11/13)
Vincent Reed Bellamy was at home in a student apartment complex in Raleigh, N.C., at around 1:45 a.m. when an armed intruder broke into the dwelling. Bellamy responded to the threat by shooting the criminal, and then triggering a fire alarm to call for help. When police arrived they found the home invader dead in a nearby hallway. Following an investigation, Wake County Prosecutor Colleen Janssen made clear that Bellamy would not face charges. Janssen explained to a local media outlet the laws that protect residents like Bellamy, stating, “Those laws were put in place to protect homeowners or residents of homes when they protect themselves against intruders … and that’s exactly what I see as having happened here.” (WTVD, Raleigh, N.C., 8/2/13; The News Observer, Raleigh, N.C., 8/10/13)
A college student and his girlfriend were outside his apartment in Cheltenham, Pa., when a stranger approached them. Fearing for their safety, the pair retreated into the house. The stranger followed the couple inside and menaced them, at which point the college student retrieved an AR-15 rifle and fired at the intruder, killing him. Following the incident, District Attorney Risa Ferman said of the case, “This is what we refer to when we talk about Castle Doctrine. The notion that your home is your castle and you have the right inside of your home or in the home environment to defend yourself.” (CBS Philly, Philadelphia, Pa., 4/25/13; phillyburbs.com, Philadelphia, Pa., 4/25/13)
Sisters Debi Keeney and Donna Carlyle were at home in Highland, Mo., when a man forced his way inside the apartment as Keeney returned from smoking a cigarette outside. The criminal then threw Carlyle to the floor and began choking her and demanding money. Keeney recalled, “All I could see was Donna’s face going blue, like her life was being choked out of her.” In response, Keeney retrieved a .22-caliber pistol and, after a verbal warning, fired at the home invader, striking him twice and ending the attack. Following the incident, Keeney stated, “I gave him the opportunity to leave. I wish he had left without me having to shoot him … Put in the same situation again, I would do it again.” The sisters’ neighbor, Rodney Rusick, was supportive of Keeney’s actions, telling local media, “I’m proud of her for shooting that dude.” (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, Mo., 2/10/13)
College student Christopher Boise heard knocking sounds coming from the first floor of his home. When he walked toward the source of the noise, he was confronted by two strange men in his apartment. One of the men was pointing a handgun straight at Boise. When Boise cried out, it was heard by his roommate, Raymond, who instinctively grabbed his legally owned AR-15 and readied it. It was just moments before one of the intruders made it to Raymond’s door. Upon seeing Raymond’s rifle, both men fled the apartment. Nothing was taken and no shots were fired. After the incident Boise said, “I’m happy he saved my life. I was very thankful he had his gun.” (13WHAM, Rochester, N.Y., 1/23/13)
When the ex-husband of a woman living at Windmill Cove Apartments was not granted access to his ex-wife’s home by employees of the apartment complex, he warned that he would kick in the door. His ex-wife and a 35-year-old male friend were inside when they heard yelling and someone violently kicking the door. When the door gave way and the man came inside, the friend fired several rounds from his handgun. The man suffered multiple gunshot wounds that proved fatal. (KSL, Sandy, Utah, 9/2/12)