Most of the time you can only count on your own readiness in an emergency—but some people are blessed with good neighbors. The armed citizens celebrated here came to the aid of those living nearby for protection against both human and animal attackers, demonstrating that firearms aren’t just good for individuals, they’re good for communities.
A husband and wife were at home in Pittsburgh, Pa., when the wife heard the screams of a 14-year-old neighbor. The boy was calling for help, as his 7-year-old brother was under attack by a pit bull. The wife alerted her husband, who retrieved a gun and went to the site of the attack. When he arrived, the dog was on top of the boy, prompting the husband to shoot the dog in the rear in order to halt the attack and not harm the child. The first shot got the dog off the boy, but as the dog continued to act violently, the husband was forced to fatally shoot the animal. The husband then carried the boy, who suffered facial lacerations, out of the house. (KDKA, Pittsburgh, Pa., 1/10/16)
A 73-year-old retired teacher was at home in Oakland Park, Fla., when a burglar smashed a window to gain access to the house. The homeowner retrieved a gun, went to investigate, and discovered the thief just outside the home, carrying a TV and attacking a neighbor intent on reporting the crime. The homeowner fired at the criminal, striking him several times and causing him to flee to a nearby getaway vehicle. A short time later, police found the getaway vehicle wrecked, with the thief still inside it, about a mile away. The homeowner made clear to a local media outlet that he did not relish being forced to defend himself and his neighbor, but one of his friends offered effusive praise, stating, “Good for him; wonderful. I wish more people would do that. It’s ridiculous for people to break into homes and think they can get away with it.” The Broward County State Attorney’s Office may look into the shooting, but Broward County Sheriff’s Spokesman Mike Jachles indicated that charges were unlikely, telling reporters, “It appears this was a justifiable shooting ... Every indication is that the homeowner was defending himself, his property and his neighbor from being attacked by the intruder.” The intruder faces charges of burglary of an occupied dwelling and grand theft. (The Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach, Fla., 8/29/13; WFOR-TV, Miami, Fla., 8/28/13)
After a woman arrived home with her pet pit bull in Exeter Township, Pa., she was attacked by the dog as she tried to remove it from her car. The woman’s partner came to her aid, but was also attacked by the dog. One neighbor described the scene to a local news outlet by stating, “The dog would not let [him] go.” Other neighbors came to help the couple. When the dog failed to stop after one neighbor hit it with a metal bar, another neighbor shot the dog, ending the attack. The wounded couple was taken to a local hospital. (WFMZ, Allentown, Pa., 5/1/14)
Rick Melartin was at home in Bellaire, Texas, when he heard a neighbor scream for help as she was being robbed at gunpoint. Melartin called 911, retrieved a .50-caliber handgun and rushed to the scene. Upon spotting Melartin, the criminal fled into the yard of another of Melartin’s neighbors, an 89-year-old woman. Fearing for the safety of his elderly neighbor, Melartin followed the criminal and ordered him to stop. It was only when Melartin fired a warning shot into the ground that the robber complied. (NBC, Bellaire, Texas, 2/15/12)
Two children were outside on a public street in San Bernardino, Calif., when a pit bull attacked them. As the children tried to escape from the dog, the children’s aunt picked up a toy scooter and attempted to use it to fight the dog off. A neighbor noticed the attack, retrieved a gun, and shot and killed the dog. Following the incident, the aunt explained to a reporter that she was fearful for the children’s lives and said that the armed citizen is a hero. One of the children was taken to a local hospital for her injuries, but is now fine. (NBC, Los Angeles, Calif., 10/7/13)
A group of around 25 teenagers broke the windows and door of a house in Kansas City, Mo., before they were confronted by the next-door neighbor and military veteran Robert MacBride and ordered to stop. Upset with MacBride’s intervention, the mob then turned on him, surrounding his house and throwing rocks. MacBride retrieved a rifle as some of the teens were attempting to enter his home. Upon seeing the rifle, the group quickly dispersed. MacBride’s neighbors were thankful for the homeowner’s actions, with an elderly woman and a passing motorist being the targets of earlier attacks from the mob. Neighbor Rick Juarez lauded MacBride’s efforts, saying, “That’s probably the only solution we have. In order to protect our property and our families. These kids don’t realize the tyranny they’re bringing on the community. Instead of being a good productive citizen to this country, they want to be thugs.” (WDAF, Kansas City, Mo., 6/16/11)