Sixty-seven-year-old Harvey Lembo of Rockland, Maine, is disabled and relies on a motorized wheelchair to get around. His helplessness, coupled with the stash of prescription drugs that he needs to get through the day, has made him an attractive target for criminals: In six years he has been robbed six times. Finally, Lembo recently decided that he had had enough and purchased an antique Russian revolver for home defense. He didn’t realize that he would have need of it mere hours later.
That same night, Lembo was awakened by an intruder going through his pills. He held the man at gunpoint while he called 911, but he says that during the call the suspect “lurched” at him. Lembo shot him, and the man fled; police found him soon afterward by following a trail of blood. “The 911 call center is 55 feet from this property. It didn’t help Harvey,” says neighbor Alan Savall. The gun had proved essential.“They ought to put a big sign up at the entrance here: ‘Free pickin’s! Go take what you want, because everybody’s unarmed’!” — Harvey Lembo
But according to the management of Harvey Lembo’s apartment complex, the gun had to go. It seems that there is a policy against tenants owning firearms—one that Lembo says he never read. Savall says that the “no-guns” policy is posted on a sign somewhere in the complex, but is nowhere to be found in the lease.
That doesn’t mean that security is taken seriously in the establishment. “There’s no security locks, there’s no lights over any of the doors, no alarm system,” says Lembo. He laughs at the idea that “safety” is the reason behind the no-guns policy, as the property manager claims. Savall adds, “After Harvey shot that guy, a week later they came and put surveillance cameras in. Other than that, there’s nothing.”
Because of the publicity that the incident has received, Lembo says that the earlier robbers—one of whom was caught, but only served 30 days in jail—know that he is unarmed and helpless. More criminals may have him in their sights now. “He’s at their mercy,” says Savall. “They gave them his name and address; they posted it in the paper. They know what medications he’s on, and they know that he’s disabled, and they know that now he doesn’t have any way to defend himself. Might as well put a sign on the door.”
Lembo agrees. “They ought to put a big sign up at the entrance here: ‘Free pickings! Go take what you want, because everybody’s unarmed’!”
Lembo’s terrible situation has been going on for months with no end in sight. When asked why he doesn’t simply move, he replies, “There is nowhere else.” Living in poverty as he does, the retired oysterman doesn’t think he will find an apartment complex or landlord that will take him. “So I’m an easy target. I’m afraid they’re going to do it again.”
To get the whole story of Harvey Lembo’s successful act of self-defense—and the ensuing nightmare—watch the Ginny Simone Reporting episode on Harvey Lembo here.