Sunday, November 14, 2010

Escaped Convict Caught After Vowing To Kill Star Reporter’s Family: Police Prevent Mass Murder

Escaped Convict Caught After Vowing To Kill Star Reporter’s Family

Indianapolis Star, September 14, 1971


By Joseph Gelarden


(This story is family legend. The photo is from the news story of the day. I remember my mom commenting on the horrible photo of dad and saying, "If their names weren't underneath their pictures, you couldn't tell who was the good guy or who was the bad guy. They both look awful!")


A life-term convict, plotting to kill the family of Rick Johnson, a reporter for The Indianapolis Star, was captured yesterday about two hours after escaping from a prison guard on the city’s Westside.


The prisoner, Buford R. Lipps, 29, retrieved a knife from a restroom in James Whitcomb Riley Memorial Hospital for Children, where it had been hidden for a year, to gain his temporary freedom from the guard, Sgt. Melvin Hood.


Lipps was one of seven inmates of the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City brought yesterday to the Medical Center of Indiana-Purdue University Indianapolis for examination and treatment.


After his capture, Lipps, from a cell in Marion County Jail, told another reporter for The Star that his first objective was to bind Johnson in his home and kill his wife and children as Johnson looked on helplessly.


Lipps said he wanted to gain revenge for testimony Johnson presented at Lipps’ trial stemming from a shootout with two policemen Dec. 14, 1966, at the former Damon’s Lounge, 30th Street and Lafayette Road.


(This robbery was a bloodbath, and probably a set-up by a rival group of thugs. Allegedly, there was $32,000 in the bar's safe. The loot wasn't there, but the cops were probably tipped off and were waiting. It went south quickly. One cop was seriously injured, one of the bad guys was shot and killed, most likely in a double-cross by one of his fellow robbers, and the bartender got a leg blown off by a shotgun blast. Not pretty...)

Partly as a result of Johnson’s testimony, Lipps was convicted of inflicting injury in the commission of a robbery and sentenced to life in prison.


When Lipps was captured yesterday in a telephone booth in the 1300 block of Shelby Street by Detective Sgt. Robert Kirkman and Detective Cpl. James R. Alfrey, both of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, he was clutching a torn sheet from the telephone directory listing the city’s Johnsons.


En route to the Southside, Lipps said, he had stopped at The Star Building, 307 North Pennsylvania Street, to look for Johnson, and then changed his mind.


“All I could think of was getting even with Rick Johnson,” Lipps said in the interview.


Lipps, described by Warden Russell Lash of the state prison as “one of our most dangerous inmates,” had been taken to the medical center for tests to determine whether he might be suffering from epilepsy.


He was the fifth prisoner to escape from the IPI complex this year, but all were recaptured, Indiana State Police records showed.


Lash and Robert Heyne, state corrections commissioner, said it was necessary to bring prisoners with special diseases to the IPI complex for diagnoses and treatment because the prison hospital and Michigan City’s St. Anthony Hospital in some cases lack the required “sophisticated” equipment.


Lash also pointed out that treatment of prisoners in the IPI hospitals is free and many “bureaucrats” object to paying hospital costs for prisoners treated in private hospitals in the Michigan City area.


Lash labeled this as “false economy,” however, pointing out that “when you add the security factor, salaries of guards to transport the prisoners, expenses for meals and mileage, it would be cheaper to take the men to a local hospital and pay for the service.”


In the case of Lipps, Heynes said, he was treated first in the prison hospital, and then referred to a consulting physician in the hospital before the decision was made to bring him to Robert W. Long Hospital for tests on an electroencephalograph to determine if he was a victim of epilepsy.


The other six inmates were undergoing tests and treatment while Lipps and Hood were waiting about 9a.m. in Riley Hospital for Lipps’ 10a.m. appointment for examination.


Lipps, his wrists handcuffed together, told Hood he needed to visit the restroom.


Lipps was permitted to enter one restroom alone but immediately came back out and told Hood it was occupied.


Lipps pointed to another restroom. The two went outside and entered one of the compartments. Hood unlocked Lipps’ handcuffs, freeing one of his hands and waited outside.


Lipps later related that he knew in advance precisely where the knife was hidden and had gone in the first restroom to “establish a need” and then “fool” the guard.


He felt behind the water tank of the toilet, Lipps said, and found the knife that had been hidden there a year ago by another Michigan City inmate. Lipps said he had learned of the hidden weapon, and its exact location, through the prison “grapevine.”


Emerging from the compartment, Lipps thrust the knife at Hood’s throat and ordered him to “freeze.” The two struggled but Lipps succeeded in grabbing the guard’s .38 caliber snub-nosed revolver.





Lipps cocked the revolver and pulled the trigger while holding the hammer with his thumb. But during the struggle the gun went off, the bullet passing through the tab of Hood’s shoulder epaulet.

Lipps placed the gunpoint against Hood’s head and ordered him to remove the handcuffs or “I’ll blow you away.”


Lipps then marched Hood to the nearby parking lot and first entered a car occupied by Phillip Carpenter, 33, Muncie, and his two children.


The youngsters began crying and Hood argued with Lipps to take another car, urging, “Don’t hurt the kids.”


They stepped from the Carpenter vehicle and walked a short distance to commandeer another car driven by Billy J. May Jr., 52, Anderson.


After ordering May from his car, Lipps forced Hood to drive to 20th and Talbott streets where he told Hood he could leave. Lipps said he then drove to the 500 block of Alabama Street, abandoned the car, and walked to Monument Circle, stopping briefly at The Star Building en route.


At the Circle, he said, he hailed a cab and went to Fountain Square. There, he entered a store, spent $2 for a red shirt, and went to a tavern nearby and ordered a beer.


Lipps, it was learned later, left the prison with $6 which he had hoarded carefully over a period of several months. He told a reporter he had been plotting to “get even” with Johnson ever since his trial.


Lipps went back outside the tavern, according to his account, walked down Shelby Street to the 1300 block where he entered the outside telephone booth and started looking for Johnson’s address and telephone number in the telephone book.


Meanwhile, Kirkman, who knew Lipps personally, was cruising with Alfrey and spotted the escapee in the booth about 11:20a.m.


Kirkman tapped on the glass door with his revolver and ordered Lipps to surrender.


Lipps later said, “I thought about grabbing for my gun and going out in a blaze of glory but then I thought, no, I won’t commit suicide.”


In his interview with The Star, Lipps said his plans were to go to the Johnson home and hold Mrs. Johnson and the children captive until Johnson returned from work, and then bind his arms and legs.


“I wanted to shoot one of the kids, bang, bang, look back at Rick and say, ‘How do you like that? How do you like that? Ha, ha.’


“I’d shoot his old lady and say, ‘How do you like that, Rick?’”


Johnson, who has served on many stories as an investigative reporter, entered the Lipps case at Lipps’ own request while he was awaiting trial for the shoot-out at Damon’s Lounge.


Lipps asked Johnson first if he could arrange for Lipps’ wife to visit him in the cell.


Johnson replied he would see what he could do then asked, “What about the crime you are charged with?”


At this point, Johnson said, Lipps admitted his participation in the shooting and gave the reporter all the details of the incident.


As a result, the Marion County prosecutor called Johnson as a witness to tell the jury the story Lipps had recounted in jail.


As a result of yesterday’s escape, Lipps was charged with kidnapping, armed robbery and escape. He is scheduled to appear today in Municipal Court, Room 10.


“I know I’ll spend the rest of my life in prison now,” Lipps said. “When I get back to prison they’ll probably whip my head and I’ll get a year in the ‘hole.’ I’ve got no hope. I’ll die there.”


Warden Lash agreed that all Lipps’ privileges would be removed.
Lash also said he would recommend that no parole board ever grant Lipps clemency.




_____



I have my father's notes and old newspaper clippings regarding Buford Lipps.

Lipps was a multiple-time loser crook, and a seriously bad dude. While in the Marion County Jail in 1966, Lipps somehow acquired saw blades, whiskey, and also fashioned some sort of handcuff key out of an ink pen refill cartridge.

Lipps was trying to use my father in an escape attempt. As soon as Dad learned Lipps had handcuff keys, the information was passed on to the proper authorities, a search was conducted, and the keys were found in Lipps' hip pocket.

For whatever reason, (probably a bullshit story told by Lipps himself), my father was accused of somehow helping Lipps get some of these items. It was a ridiculous accusation, of course, and my father was quickly cleared of any wrong-doing.










After my dad died, I found this old Christmas card amongst his personal effects. The card is from the sister of Buford Lipps! I find this terribly amusing! Apparently, so did my father!


_____


I got a wild hair and decided to see if I could find the two Marion County Sheriff Detectives who nabbed Lipps in the phone booth way back in 1971.

I used the online white pages and did a search on their names...James R. Alfrey, and Robert Kirkman. I found two James R. Alfreys listed, and their ages were about right.

The first one I called wasn't the cop, but he knew of the one I was looking for, and had his phone number!

I called him, and he was one of the cops who arrested Lipps!

He said he remembered it like it was yesterday.

He was a cop from 1965 to 1984.

He says he is 67 years old, in great health, and owns a neighborhood bar on the near east side of Indianapolis.



Alfrey said his partner, Bob Kirkman, died in 2002, and that he was a good man.

Alfrey said he remembered my dad as a good and honest reporter who told the truth and was trusted by the "good" cops.

I thanked Alfrey for his actions, and told him how he and his partner changed the course of our family's history by capturing Lipps before he could commit his mass murder plan.

I told Alfrey of the children and families that my sisters and I had, and that none of it would have been possible if he hadn't done what he and his partner did.

He seemed genuinely touched and pleased by my phone call.

He said he has never gotten a call such as mine before.


He said he is at his pub most days, so I think some day soon I will pay him a visit, shake his hand, have a beer or dozen with him, take some pictures, and do some kind of story on him.

It should be cool.


I bet he would like to see pictures of our families too.

He'd get a kick out of that, I think.


He is a hero, in my book at least...

Just something interesting I thought I'd pass along...


paj










Note from my mom regarding Lipps


September 22, 2008


"When Lipps went back to prison, we were promised if he ever got out we’d be told.


He was out for some time years later before your dad found out he was loose.


However nothing happened. Your dad was really mad because no one told us he was loose.

Lipps died and there was no investigation.

Natural causes they said..."



_____


Letter I sent to James Alfrey



July 18, 2010


Dear Mr. Alfrey:

What a pleasure it was for me to speak to you over the phone recently regarding you and your partner’s capture of Buford Lipps in 1971.

It is an incident I have thought about many times over the years, and I recently thought it would be interesting to write about it and try to do some kind of update about the story.

I am a big history buff, and I believe history needs to be recorded for the benefit of future generations.

You, sir, helped changed the course of my family’s history. I, for one, will be eternally grateful.

As I said during our brief conversation, I would love to meet you face to face, shake your hand, and thank you personally for what you have done for me.

I would like to interview you in regards to your life before, during, and after the Lipps incident. I would like to know more about your partner, Robert Kirkman.

If possible, I would like to use photos of you and your partner during your service with the department in the story I want to write. I would copy those photos and return them to you promptly.

A little bit about me…

I was born in 1962 and raised in Speedway. I graduated from high school in 1981. In 1984 I enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve. I served in Desert Storm, and was honorably discharged in 1992.

I married my wife in 1990. We recently celebrated our 20th anniversary. We have three children.

I am a truck driver by trade. My family has lived in Beech Grove for 16 years.

I have kept my nose clean and have tried to live an honorable life.

None of this would have been possible without you and your partner’s vigilant actions that fateful September day back in 1971.

My mother is in good health and still lives in the Speedway home I grew up in. She enjoys being surrounded by family, children, grand children, and now, a great grand child.

My oldest sister has been married forever, and has two daughters, ages 21 and 14.

My younger sister has been married a long time also, and has a young son aged 5. He is the cutest thing you ever saw.

My older brother is a perpetual bachelor. He has a good-paying job as a computer specialist, enjoys life, and is generous to a fault.

Again…none of this would have been possible without you and your partner’s vigilant actions that fateful September day back in 1971.

I would like to meet with you at your convenience.

If you feel uncomfortable with any of this, I understand, and I will not bother you any further.

Just know that I am a man who enjoys life, and appreciates what you and your partner did those many years ago.

If you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to contact me.

It’s the least I could do…

Thanks again.

Sincerely,

Paul A. Johnson


_____


Mr. Alfrey did not reply to my letter.

Stayed tuned. When I get the chance, I will interview Mr. Alfrey if he will allow it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Self Defense For Real: The Entire Story of How I Prevented Two Vicious Rottweilers From Chewing My Ass Up, and the Shit-Storm That Followed



This blog story thing is long and detailed and full of self-serving, self-aggrandizing bullshit.


It required much thoughtful editing.


It will be entertaining and educational, while at the same time irrepressibly drab and awful.


It's pretty much all true, except for the shit I threw in to make you giggle a little bit.

You all will love it.


Maybe.


Or not.


Don't forget to click on the images...



_____





The following is a narrative detailing the events of the morning of July 5, 2010 at my private residence in Beech Grove, Indiana.

It is true, correct, and accurate to the best of my recollection.

I have added comments to the original, indicated parenthetically, for clarity and/or jocularity.


I awoke on the morning of July 5, 2010, with plans to snake a clogged sewer pipe in order to prevent the backup of raw sewage into my home. The access point for the sewer pipe clean-out is in my front yard.

(This has happened before after a big July 4th party at my house. One of my guests tried to flush a football or an Army boot down my toilet, and clogged things up real nice.

I also had plans to roust my three kids out of bed about an hour later so that they could clean up the fireworks debris in front of our house left over from the previous evening’s Independence Day festivities.)


In order to begin my work, I had to go outdoors to my locked, detached garage at the rear of my property to retrieve various tools.

I walked out my back door and onto my completely screened-in and enclosed back porch, and I immediately noticed two unfamiliar large brown and tan Rottweiler dogs on the concrete approach in front of my garage.

I would estimate the two dogs weighed approximately 80 to 100 lbs. each.


Both of them acted very aggressive, baring their teeth, snarling and barking repeatedly at me, and loudly enough to wake my wife and younger son who were asleep in the living room.


I yelled at the dogs from within my back porch to go away, but they became more aggressive, barking at me and advancing on me to the point where I thought it was possible that they could come through the porch screens at me.



I quickly went back inside my house.

I paused for a moment inside my home, thinking about what I should do so that I could get to work on the clogged sewer pipe that was going to become a big problem for my family if I didn’t get it fixed.


I knew that I should check to make sure that the dogs were gone before I went outdoors to do my work, but I also knew that if I went outside my home to check on the dogs whereabouts, and they surprised me at some point, that I wanted to have a weapon of some sort in order to defend myself.

At this time, while still inside my home, I considered a baseball bat or other heavy implement to use as a defensive weapon, but any such device was not readily available to me as they were all locked up in my detached garage, whose access door was secured with a combination-type padlock.


I knew I didn’t want to be exposed, fumbling around with a combination lock, as two large and aggressive dogs possibly attacked me.


I then returned to my enclosed back porch, looked for the dogs, and did not see either one of them.

At this point, I thought that maybe they had run off.


However, both dogs had already exhibited unwarranted aggressive behavior towards me, and I did not want to take a chance of being jumped by them as I rounded the blind corner from my driveway to the front yard of my house.

It was at this time that I went back indoors and looked out several of my windows to see if the dogs were still in the area.

Not seeing the dogs from any of my windows, but not wanting to be defenseless when I went outside to see if the coast was clear one final time, I retrieved a handgun.

My wife was awake and alert.

She was sitting on the couch looking out a large open picture window that faces the front yard.
At this time, she didn’t see the dogs from her vantage point.

I walked outside to my enclosed back porch, looked for the dogs, and I didn’t see them from my vantage point either.

At this point, I loaded a round in my double action semi-automatic handgun, a Smith & Wesson Model 39, and put the weapon on safe (which drops the hammer).

I then exited my enclosed back porch with my handgun in my right hand, walked outside onto the concrete approach, and looked up my gravel driveway towards the street and the front of my house.

I did not see the dogs at this time.

I slowly walked up my gravel driveway towards the street, looking for the dogs but not seeing them.


At the moment that I reached the front corner of my house, I saw the two dogs, and they saw me.


It was instantaneous.

They were on my property in the front yard.


Both animals advanced aggressively on me, barking loudly, snarling, and baring their teeth.

I yelled at them to stop or go away, but they continued their aggressive behavior.

I backed away from them, but they continued to advance aggressively.


One of the dogs was slightly more aggressive than the other, and got uncomfortably close to me, no more than five or six feet away.


I feared I was about to be bitten or mauled by these two lunging animals.

As I moved backwards away from the oncoming animals, I took my weapon off safe and cocked the hammer.


The distance between the two attacking dogs and myself was growing shorter and shorter.

I believed I was out of time.

I believed I had to act quickly in order to protect myself; otherwise I was going to be seriously injured or killed by these two dogs.

I fired
one single shot down towards the nearest, advancing, most aggressive dog.




He yelped once, crossed the street, and ran north, however, I was not positive the dog had been hit by the shot.

The other dog ran north also after I fired the single shot.

I did not see where the dogs went other than north of my location.

 

My wife was watching inside our house from the open living room window.

She witnessed everything that transpired.


(From what I understand, my wife said the sight of me stumbling backwards away from the threat, fumbling with the safety, cocking the hammer, and pulling the trigger was quite comical.


Although I didn't think so at the time, I bet I WAS a humorous vision to behold to the casual observer. All's well that ends well, though.)

As soon as the shot was fired and the dogs ran off, I told my wife to call the Beech Grove Police Department.

I retrieved the spent shell casing, which landed in between my two parked vehicles, from the driveway gravel.I removed the magazine from my firearm, locked the slide to the rear, and then I placed my unloaded handgun, the magazine, and the spent shell casing on a table inside my enclosed back porch.

Then I went inside my home and waited for the police to arrive.


Officer K., BGPD, arrived approximately five to ten minutes later.

He asked me where the dogs went, and I replied that all I knew was that they both fled north.


Officer K. also asked me if I had a license to carry a handgun.

I replied in the affirmative, and produced that document and my driver’s license to him.

After talking briefly to the officer, I went back inside my house.


About this time, my youngest son said he saw both dogs run into the backyard of our neighbors to our immediate north.


My son witnessed this from his bedroom window.


I relayed this new information to the officer.

He went next door to our neighbor’s house.

I cannot be exactly certain what transpired there.

Soon after this, Officer K. returned to my home and informed me that one of the dogs had received a gunshot wound to the head, and that he was going to have to confiscate my handgun and the spent shell casing.






I complied, but I asked for a receipt for the firearm.

Officer K. handed me his business card with a handwritten note on the back indicating the date, my handgun’s make, model, and caliber.

 



I am very familiar with large dogs, and I recognize aggressive, threatening, and dangerous behavior when I see it.

I grew up with German shepherd dogs, and I helped raise two of them from puppies when I was a child and adolescent.

I loved them like family members, but I also understood then, and understand now, what it means to be a responsible pet owner.

I am aware of the rules and laws regarding the use of deadly force.


I am aware of the laws regarding the discharge of a firearm within city limits.

I believe I defended myself from serious bodily harm while on my personal private property.

I eliminated what I deemed a serious threat using the only tool I had at my disposal at the time…a legally owned and obtained firearm.

Respectfully submitted,
July 5, 2010


_____


The Police Report














Cop standing approximately where I was when I fired the shot



_____


This is the E-Mail I sent to Beech Grove Police Department Chief Rich Witmer. Maybe he never received it or didn't read it, but I did not get a response from him.
I have added comments
to the original,
indicated parenthetically, for clarity and/or jocularity.
Chief Witmer:
On the morning of July 5th, 2010, two Rottweilers attacked me on my property.

I successfully defended myself using a legally owned handgun, and then immediately called your department.

During the ensuing investigation, I was treated as if I was an irresponsible drunken ignorant rube child who had just hosed down the neighborhood with AK-47 fire.

I am not a hotheaded vigilante hill-jack looking for jaywalkers to shoot, and I believe your officers who responded to the incident would agree that I was calm, courteous, and respectful to them during their investigation.

I am a 16 year resident of this town, a lifetime citizen of this state, an honorably discharged 8-year US Marine Reserve and Desert Storm veteran, an NRA member, a hard-working family man, a voter, and a productive and law-abiding member of society.

I am a man of peace, legally armed, who enjoys life and intends to live a long one.

Unbelievably, charges of animal cruelty and criminal recklessness with a firearm were being considered against me.


(My handgun was confiscated, and I was told I would be informed within 72 hours whether or not the Marion County Prosecutor would pursue charges against me.)


Happily, the prosecutor came to his senses and dropped all charges.


(Once informed of this by a Beech Grove Detective, I said, "Well...that means I can trot down to the station and pick up my handgun! Right?" His answer was yes.)


I want to make it clear that I am not a “cop hater.” Far from it.

When I was a child, my life and the lives of my entire family were spared by the quick and vigilant actions of two Marion County deputies. (Another story I'm working on)

Therefore, it would be the height of hypocrisy for me to denigrate police officers.

Generally speaking, I believe the responding officers in this recent case behaved professionally and courteously.


However, some aspects of their investigation of the incident rubbed me the wrong way.


I thought you should know about it, but I’m not going to cry in my cereal bowl about it either.

The initial responding officer, K., commented to me upon his arrival to my location that I didn’t need to shoot the dog.


He made this comment while knowing almost no particulars of the incident.

While still being almost totally ignorant of the facts of the incident, it appeared to me that he thought I was in error for my actions, and possibly guilty of a crime.


At no time in the investigation was I read my rights, although I had the feeling I was under suspicion of being the “bad guy.”


Later, when Officer K. indicated to me that he had to confiscate the handgun I used in the incident, he balked noticeably when I requested a receipt for my firearm.

He partially complied with my request by writing the date and my firearm’s make, model, and caliber on the back of his business card.

He failed to notate the weapon’s serial number on the business card he gave me.

Officer K. also made it relatively clear to me that he thought police officers were the only people who were educated, trained, proficient, and professional enough to make the decision to use a firearm for self-defense purposes.


At one point in the investigation, I was given a lecture about bullet ballistics and ricochets.

(Initially, I was told that the 9mm handgun I used to defend myself would be ineffective against Rottweilers, and that the 9mm bullet would most likely just bounce right off the dog's hard skull with no injury to him.


Later during the investigation, I was informed that, had I missed my intended target, that same 9mm bullet I fired could have bounced off the hard ground, gone sailing across the street, pierced the neighbor's window, and injured or killed an innocent person.


So...which is it? Is the 9mm an anemic and useless round, or is it a heinous angel of death capable of killing everything in sight?)


Overall, more emphasis was put on the dangers of a ricochet…something that
could have happened, but didn’t… than the fact that I had successfully thwarted an attack by two large and vicious dogs by firing a single shot from my firearm…something that did happen.

Another time, a lieutenant, whose name I did not get, gave me an additional lecture concerning the social standards of urban versus rural living, and their differing accepted levels of behavior.

(In other words...it's OK to shoot stray or attacking dogs if one lives in the country. But, it is not so kosher to do so if one resides in the city. Urban folks should let Cujo and his twin brother gnaw on them for a bit while they call the authorities.)


At times, I was spoken to as if I was a 5-year-old child, and still wet behind the ears.


The lectures were not appreciated.


At one point in the investigation, the lieutenant asked me if I had any other firearms in my home.

I paused noticeably, thinking this was a question he had no right to ask, and then I replied yes to his question.


It was at this point in their investigation that I indicated to Officer K. and the lieutenant that I didn’t wish to answer any further questions, and that I thought I needed the services of an attorney.

Looking at the big picture regarding the Beech Grove Police Department, I think the points I made above are no big deal…just something for you to ponder.

Police officers perform a difficult and oftentimes thankless task, are second-guessed constantly, and frequently come into contact with the dregs of society.

I would not want your job, but I am thankful you do it, and I’m glad BGPD has a reputation for being hard-asses who run a tight ship and try to keep our city safe.

I am on your side, but I wanted you to know how I felt about this mess and how it was handled.

Feel free to contact me if you wish.





_____




Here come the lawsuits and other attacks

This entire incident has been a series of offensive attacks against me and my family by the other party.

First, and most obviously, was the attack on my property by the two unrestrained Rottweiler dogs owned by and carelessly boarded by the other party.


I successfully and legally defended myself from this vicious and unprovoked attack on my property by using a firearm.

Immediately following this, I was verbally attacked, threatened, and cursed by my neighbor in the presence of my three children.

Five days later, I received a threatening certified letter from the dog owner demanding payment for their vet bills…another unwarranted and unprovoked attack.

Approximately a month later, I received another certified letter from the dog owner.

Figuring it was more ridiculous demands and threats, I shredded it without ever opening it or reading it.


In mid-August, I was attacked again.

This time it was in the form of a summons, filed by the dog owner, to appear in small claims court for $740 in damages.


In order to defend myself from this attack, I used the only tool at my disposal.

I filed a Third Party Notice of Claim against my neighbors for their negligence while supposedly watching the two Rottweiler dogs.


Shortly after this, the dog owner attacked me again by amending her claim against me to the maximum allowed by small claims court law…$6000...claiming mental pain and anguish for her entire family, and a changed personality of the injured dog.


In order to, once again, defend myself, I amended my Third Party Notice of Claim against my neighbors to reflect this new amount.


All of my actions in this case have been defensive responses to offensive actions instigated by the other party.


The dog owners are obviously just looking to get “paid.”

They want me to pay them a premium for the privilege of being attacked on my own property by their dangerous dogs.


I earn every cent that passes through my hands through the sweat of my brow.

The dogs’ owner is entitled to none of it.


My income feeds my family.

My income is my freedom, and the dogs’ owner is trying to take away that freedom.



_____



A Random Thought

The dog owners should have used the services of a professional kennel to board their dangerous dogs while they were away.

Instead, the dog owners thoughtlessly and selfishly put the burden of watching those two dangerous animals on my neighbors who were ill equipped to do so effectively.Once I became a homeowner, I wanted to own a German shepherd dog like I did when I was young.

I never acquired a German shepherd because my home is small, my back yard is not fenced in, and I knew I could not put in the time, effort, or expense required to properly care for such a large and potentially dangerous animal.
In other words, I acted responsibly.The other party can not say the same.


_____

The following are some thoughts regarding my neighbors and the dogs’ owner. I did not communicate these thoughts to them in any way...until the trial day.

Regarding my neighbors:

According to the police report, the two dogs escaped my neighbor's backyard through a damaged or faulty gate on their wooden, self-constructed privacy fence.
Several years ago, when my neighbors were building the fence and gates themselves, I noticed shoddy construction techniques.

I framed houses for over a year under the guidance of an expert carpenter, so I am familiar with carpentry…although by no means an expert myself.


At the time my neighbors were building the fence and gates, I offered to loan them my 5-foot level so that they could get the crooked boards straight.
I do not recall if they accepted my offer.

At this same time, I recall commenting to my wife that the framing techniques the neighbors were using to build the gates in particular were substandard at best, amateurish, not sturdy enough, flimsy, and would probably structurally fail after a short period of use.

My wife remembers my comments about the poor quality fence and gate construction, and will corroborate those comments.


Shortly after the shooting, I encountered my neighbor's brother in my front yard.

He and I have previously enjoyed a friendly relationship.

Before he could say a word, I told him that I shot one of the dogs in self-defense because they were attacking me.


He was calm and rational.

He replied that he didn’t blame me, and that he was afraid of the two Rottweiler dogs.
Even though I was cursed, verbally threatened, and vilified in front of all three of my children by my neighbor, and even though it was only through his and the dogs’ owner’s negligence that the incident occurred, I bear he and his family no ill will.


(After the cops departed the scene, my three kids and I were out front of our home cleaning up the fireworks debris from the night before.

My neighbor came outside his home and proceeded to give me the stink eye.

I said, "Don't look at me like that. You should have kept those dogs penned up. They attacked me, and I defended myself."

He replied with multiple
curse words...calling me a motherfucker, asshole, etc....in front of my three kids.

He also said something about, "You and your fucking redneck
friends shooting firecrackers off all fucking night..."


Really? Rednecks?

There were at least 4 individuals at my gathering who are honorably discharged veterans:

One Army Vietnam war vet, one US Navy sub-mariner from the 1970s, one Marine Desert Storm Vet, and one Marine Kosovo-era vet.

Imagine the nerve of these types of folks...celebrating Independence Day and having a party!


BTW...our party ended at approximately 10:30pm, and all was quiet after that.

My neighbor said that I didn't need to shoot the dog, that the dogs wouldn't have bit me, that they have never bit anyone before, that he has tried to be a good neighbor, and that now he and I were gonna have a "big problem."

I thought, "Yeah? Whatever. Douche-bag. Every person in your house was asleep and/or unaware of what was going on until after the fact. And now you're pissed at me? Back away from the crack pipe, old-timer."

...but I didn't say it.

I ignored him, hurried my kids' cleanup, and got them back into the house.

I wanted to deck the old bastard, who was obviously irrational and off his meds, but I didn't, because I was confident in the righteousness of my actions.

I was taking the high-road.

A few minutes later, the old fuck was sitting in a lawn chair in his driveway...just glaring at our house.

I called the cops again and told them that I would do the old goat just like I did his fucking dogs if he came onto my property and threatened me or my family.

The cops said they couldn't do anything as long as he stayed on his property.)


I do not seek recompense, restitution, or damages from my neighbor or any member of his family, or the dogs’ owner.

I am not looking to get “paid.”

However, I am comfortable with my actions, and if given similar circumstances, I would react in the same way.

I believe I have every right to protect my family and myself when any creature, be it with four legs or two, threatens us.

I have demonstrated my ability and willingness to do so if necessary, and I will do it again if need be.

I will go to my grave knowing and believing I did the right thing.

___


The Extortion Letter







To the owner of the dogs:

Instead of trying to extort money from me to pay your veterinary bills, you should be thanking me for what I did.

If your dogs had hurt me, you’d be paying for a lot more than an injured dog.

It could have been a little old lady out for a walk, or a small child playing in his own yard that your dogs attacked.


Instead, it was I, a capable man legally armed, who confronted your vicious animals on my property when they attacked.

It is only because of you and my neighbor's negligence that this incident occurred and your dog was injured.

Thirty seconds of Internet research will quickly reveal how dangerous Rottweiler dogs can be.
Rottweilers rank second only to pit bull dogs in the number of unprovoked attacks on people.

You and my neighbors displayed reckless disregard for the safety of everyone in the neighborhood by being totally unaware of your animals’ whereabouts.

(In fact, you and my neighbors would have remained completely oblivious as to how your dog got injured had I not called the police immediately after I defended myself from the vicious attack on my property.)
You failed to ensure that the facility boarding your dangerous animals was secure.

You
failed to ensure that the people boarding your dangerous animals were intelligent, competent, professional, awake, and alert enough to do so effectively.

You
and my neighbors failed to keep the fencing and gates in good repair.

You
and my neighbors failed to keep these dangerous dogs secured.

You
and my neighbors failed to keep your dogs off my property.

You
and my neighbors failed to keep your dogs from attacking me.

I simply defended myself, and the fact that the Marion County Prosecutor refused to press criminal charges of animal cruelty and criminal recklessness with a firearm against me bears this out.

You and my neighbors bear total and complete responsibility for everything that happened and any supposed damages you incurred on my property when your dogs attacked me on the morning of July 5th.

The certified letter you sent me was cute, but I don’t take too kindly to unwarranted demands, threats, and intimidation.

In the letter, you refer to your injured dog as the “victim.”

At first, I found this laughable, but then I gave it some thought.


And you know something? I think you may be right.


Your injured dog
IS a victim.

He is the victim of ignorant, negligent, and irresponsible owner and neighbor who disregarded his natural and violent propensities, and allowed him and your other dangerous animal to run loose and attack me on my property.

Your dog became a “victim” and caught a bullet because of you.
I was the true victim in this matter.
Any normal, right-thinking person would have done what I did in the same situation.

The act of using deadly force to protect oneself from serious injury or death is no trivial matter.

It is traumatic, even when it turns out well as it did in this situation.


You and my neighbors should have been over to my house, with hat in hand and on bended knee, apologizing to my family and me and begging for forgiveness.

Instead, you all took the low road…cursing me in front of my family, and demanding that I pay you a premium for the privilege of being attacked on my own property by your unrestrained, dangerous dogs.
As I’ve said, I want nothing from you or your family.

I want to live in peace, and be left alone.

But…if you want to play games, we can play games.

I have a bushel basket full of reasons why I could justifiably sue you and the homeowner.

Just like a firearm…I don’t want to use those reasons, but I will if I am forced to protect myself.

I suggest you cut your losses in this matter, pay your vet bills yourself, take your lumps, and chalk this up as a valuable learning experience.


_____


Letter To The Investigating Beech Grove Police Detective


Dear Detective:

This dog thing is getting out of control and ridiculous.
Now, the dog owner is suing me for $6000.

Did your department investigate my neighbors at all, or were the investigating officers more interested in nailing me for having the unmitigated gall to defend myself on my own property from a vicious attack?


I have some questions regarding the investigation.

Were my neighbors fined or charged for loose dogs? If not, why? They broke the law.
15-20-1-4 Criminal offenses; exception Sec. 4. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), the owner of a dog commits a Class C misdemeanor if: (1) the owner recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally fails to take reasonable steps to restrain the dog; (2) the dog enters property other than the property of the dog's owner; and (3) as the result of the owner's failure to restrain the dog, the dog bites or attacks another person without provocation, resulting in bodily injury to the other person.
IC 15-20-1-2 "Owner" Sec. 2. As used in this chapter, "owner" means the owner of a dog. The term includes a person who possesses, keeps, or harbors a dog.

IC 15-20-1-3 Dog bite liability Sec. 3. (a) If a dog, without provocation, bites a person: (1) who is acting peaceably; and (2) who is in a location where the person may be required to be in order to discharge a duty imposed upon the person by: (A) the laws of Indiana; (B) the laws of the United States; or (C) the postal regulations of the United States;the owner of the dog is liable for all damages suffered by the person bitten. (b) The owner of a dog described in subsection (a) is liable for damages even if: (1) the dog has not previously behaved in a vicious manner; or (2) the owner has no knowledge of prior vicious behavior by the dog.


They should have been charged, and the dogs should have been impounded according to Indiana law.
IC 15-20-1-7 Impoundment of animals; probable cause Sec. 7. If a law enforcement officer or any other person having authority to impound animals has probable cause to believe that there has been a violation of section 4 of this chapter, IC 35-46-3-6 applies.
IC 35-46-3-6 Impoundment of animals; probable cause hearing; penalties; custody; bond Sec. 6. (a) This section does not apply to a violation of section 1 of this chapter. (b) Any law enforcement officer or any other person having authority to impound animals who has probable cause to believe there has been a violation of this chapter or IC 15-20-1-4 may take custody of the animal involved.


Were the dogs immunized? Were the dogs licensed/have tags?
If my neighbors were not charged, they bloody well should have been.
The reply:

The detective and prosecutor looked at...
IC 35-46-3-12 (Animal cruelty law)e) It is a defense to a prosecution under this section that the accused person:(1) reasonably believes the conduct was necessary to:(A) prevent injury to the accused person or another person;(B) protect the property of the accused person from destruction or substantial damage; or(C) prevent a seriously injured vertebrate animal from prolonged suffering.
...and determined that they wouldn't file criminal charges against me. (This info I received verbally and in person from the detective.)


Later, I asked the detective why there were no fines or charges filed against the dog owner and/or my neighbor.


His reply?


"My job is to maintain the peace. The prosecutor and I believed they had been punished enough already by having their dog shot."


Apparently, civil matters are another story entirely...and an actual judge gets to decide "punishment."

___



Judge Judy Comes-A-Calling...Again And Again and Again








I've seen the show and I like her style, but...no thanks.Unbelievably...my dignity is not for sale.

I'll rent it out sometimes, though
.


I did not reply to the letter.

We received several phone calls from the Judge Judy folks, and I made it clear to them that I was not interested in appearing on their silly program.

After the last phone call, I sent them this e-mail:



Mr. Martinez:

My wife says another representative from your show has contacted us AGAIN yesterday regarding appearing on the Judge Judy Show.

I told you in person by phone a little over a week ago that I was not interested.


I am still NOT INTERESTED!

I have been to Los Angeles. I was not impressed.

I do not need to be on television to validate my existence.

My case is my problem. I have no desire to broadcast it to the world on your show in order to satisfy the morbid curiosity of your audience.
It's not my style.

I understand this case would make for good television.
You probably think what you have in this case is a bunch of inbred Hoosier hill-jacks or trailer park dwellers who are chomping at the bit to go to L.A., get blinded by all the pretty bright lights, go in front of the TV cameras, and go all "Jerry Springer" for your amusement.

Such is not the case with me.

It's not going to happen. Not ever. Understand?

Quit calling us. Quit harassing us.

I AM NOT INTERESTED!

I never heard from them again.




_____



Some questions that might be asked:


What were you thinking the first time you encountered the dogs on your property while you were on the enclosed back porch?


Somebody’s dogs are loose…never seen them before…acting vicious. Are they going to come through the screen at me?


Why didn’t you just shoo the dogs away?

I tried, but they got more agitated.


Why didn’t you just contact the owner of the dogs and let the owner secure the dogs?

I didn’t know to whom the dogs belonged. Never saw them before that morning.


Why didn’t you just call the police or animal control and let them handle it from the beginning?


Didn’t have time. No confidence in police/animal control to handle the situation due to prior experience. Later found out Animal Control was closed/unstaffed due to the holiday that day anyway.

Why didn’t you get a baseball bat, or a shovel, or a boat oar, or a table leg, or other similar suitable weapon instead of a gun?

Couldn’t get to them without exposing myself to dogs. Tools were locked in detached garage.

Why did you get your handgun when you decided to go outside to see if the dogs were still in the area?

It was the only weapon available to defend myself from attack. If I think I might be faced with a self-defense situation, I want the odds stacked in my favor.

Did you intend to shoot the dogs when you went outside regardless of whether they attacked you or not?


No. I would only use my firearm to defend myself.

Why did you load the firearm, and then put it on “safe” before you went outside?


For an added measure of safety. Also, it forced me to go through another step in order to fire. Yes...doing so gave the dogs more time to get closer to me, but doing so also made me think twice before I actually fired.

What were you thinking when you confronted the two dogs the second time on your property and they both charged towards you when you were outside, exposed, and armed with your firearm?


I thought, “It looks like I’m actually going to have to fire, because if I don’t do something really fast, I’m going to be hurt really bad by these two dogs.”

Why didn’t you fire a “warning shot” or shoot into the ground to scare the dogs away?

I don’t do “warning shots.” I believe if the situation is serious enough to warrant using a firearm for self-defense, the situation is also serious enough for me to try to hit whatever it is that is threatening my family or me.
Also, one must consider what might happen if the “warning shot” is ineffective and the threat continues to present itself. I am not willing to take that chance.

Did you have time to aim your handgun at the closest charging dog using the gun’s sights?


No. As I backed away from the dogs, I took the gun off “safe,” cocked the hammer, raised the firearm, pointed it at the closest dog, and pulled the trigger.

After you fired the shot at the closest dog, did you know whether or not you hit him?


No. I thought it was possible I hit him, but I wasn’t sure.


Why didn’t you shoot at the second dog?


He ran away with the single shot. He was no longer a threat to me. There was no reason to shoot at him.


Why did you call the police after you fired the shot at the closest dog?

I know the law regarding the discharging of a firearm within city limits. I also figured it was the best thing to do because I wasn’t going to try to hide my actions. I believed I acted prudently and in self-defense.

Did you consider what could happen if the shot you might have to fire at the dogs missed the intended target?


Not at the time. Not really. My main concern was to end the threat I was facing. I am confident enough in my firearm handling skills.

Did you notice any pedestrians or vehicular traffic that could have been in your field of fire if you decided you needed to shoot?

No. There were no pedestrians or vehicles on the street or in the area that I saw. It was just me and the two dogs.


Were you in fear of serious injury or death if the dogs got close enough to you?


Yes.


What were you thinking when, after you fired, you discovered that the dogs belonged to a relative of your neighbor and were being temporarily kept by your neighbor?

I felt bad because I knew this wasn’t going to go over well with them no matter the circumstances of the incident. My neighbor has a history of unstable and unreasonable behavior when confronted with a problem.

What were you thinking when you discovered that one of the dogs had a gunshot wound to the head, but that it was not a serious wound and that the dog would most likely live?

I was rather surprised, but I wasn’t happy or sad about it either. I was forced into a situation I didn’t want to be in, and I had to protect myself and end the threat. If the dogs got hurt or killed, it was not my fault that they were running loose and attacked me on my property.

How much experience or knowledge do you have with firearms and the laws pertaining to them?

Served eight years with USMC reserve. Have held a license to carry a handgun intermittently since approximately 1991. I have familiarized myself with laws about carrying a handgun and the laws pertaining to the use of deadly force.

How often do you go to a firearms range to target practice with your firearms?

I try to get to the range at least a couple of times a year to target shoot with my two sons when time and ammunition availability allows.

What kinds of ammunition do you use?

Hollow points for defensive purposes. Ball rounds for target shooting.

Do you hunt with firearms?

I have, but it’s been a long time. I don’t really enjoy it too much.

Have you ever been bitten by a dog
?


No.


Do you have much experience with large dogs?

Raised two German shepherds as a youth.


What do you know about Rottweilers?

They have an aggressive nature, and well-known propensity of sudden, unprovoked attacks on humans.


In your opinion, could you have handled this situation differently?

No.

Do you have any regrets about this incident?

Bring a bigger gun next time.


Dude. You shot a dog. Big fucking deal. You are not a hero. You don't deserve a medal. Why are you making a big deal out of all this?


I've never had to do anything like this before...defend myself using a firearm. Like it or not, this incident has had a profound effect on me. I half-jokingly told somebody that I had seen more "combat" in my own front yard than I ever saw in eight years of service with the Marine Corps Reserve to include my experiences overseas during Desert Shield/Storm.

___




Post Traumatic Stress, or Divine Intervention?

The more I think about this deal, the more I think I might have been suffering from PTSD after the event.


It hit me like a ton of bricks afterwords that this scenario couldn’t have played out better than it did.
I played it perfectly, and I’ve never played anything perfectly in my life, except for marrying my wife.

I’ll explain what I mean, or at least try.

There were too many coincidences that contributed to the success of my doing what I did and how this thing concluded.


Was it dumb luck?

Am I going crazy?


This may sound ridiculous, especially coming from me...a deeply flawed, non-church-going believer:


1-Why did I get up so early? It was 6:00am or so on a Holiday Monday morning. There was absolutely no one on the street. No cars. No kids playing. The old lady who takes a walk every morning to beat the heat wasn’t out yet. Everybody was still in bed asleep, it seemed, except me. Did God get me up and put me in this situation because He knew I was capable and He needed me to do this and prevent someone else from getting hurt or killed by the two dogs?


2-Why did I decide to not risk exposing myself to the dogs by fumbling around and unlocking the detached garage to get tools for my work and/or a blunt instrument weapon? Was God protecting me?


3-Why did the scenario of me running into the dogs at the blind front corner of my house play out exactly in my mind before it really happened exactly as I imagined it? (This freaks me out more than anything else.) Was God protecting me and warning me to be ready?

4-Why did I decide to arm myself with a firearm to go outside exposed to check if the area was clear of the dogs before I did my work? Was God protecting me?

5-Why did I change my mind on which gun I would use? At first, I considered a .22 revolver for its softer report…that maybe it would cause less commotion if I had to use it. Then, I decided the .22 would be useless against these beasts. Was God protecting me?

6-Why did I decide on the 9mm, when I had two other larger calibers to chose from? Was it because it’s the handgun in my collection that I’m most accurate with, most familiar with, most comfortable with, and have practiced with the most? Was it because God knew the 9mm would stop the attack, but not kill one of His creatures?

7-How did I hit a moving target, while moving myself, without aiming the handgun? I simply raised it with one hand and fired. I have never fired any firearm at a moving target…ever...and I am by no means an expert stationary target shooter. Was God guiding my hand?


8-Why was I so calm, collected, polite, helpful, and professional to the police? Was it because I’m a pussy? Or, was it because I was so totally certain of the righteousness of what I had done, that I had no worries and felt a great inner peace with myself? Why was I so sure I had not committed a crime? Was God telling me that everything was in His hands and will be OK…that I had done what He wanted me to do?


9-Why did my neighbor look so incredibly hateful and evil to me when he was cursing me? (I mentioned this to my wife the day of the event…that I had never seen anyone look so full of hate) Did God want me to pity my neighbor?


10-Why do I feel no hate or desire for revenge for the owner of the dogs, or the homeowner who neglected to keep the dogs restrained? Why did I react so calmly to the hateful speech directed to me by the homeowner in front of my children? Is it because I “won,” or is it because God wants me to forgive?


11-Why did the prosecutor decide to not follow through with charges against me? Was it good old Hoosier common sense coming into play, or did God make him see the righteousness of my actions because God wants justice?

___




Comments about me and this incident from a non-existent possible witness:

"That dude you're talking about is bat-shit crazy.

And high...


I heard he coaxed the two innocent fuzzy puppies over to his property with raw beef."

"Then, I heard he sprayed the cute puppies and the entire neighborhood with .30 caliber rifle fire, tearing soft and tender flesh asunder in a dreadful manner.

I heard he laughed maniacally as he did it too.

Kinda like this...with the spitting and frothing at the mouth thing..."




"I also heard he didn't stop shooting until he ran out of ammo and the bus full of nuns and hungry orphans which he hit with ricochets was totally engulfed in flames."



"After that, he fixed his bayonet and finished his heinous deed.

The streets ran with blood.


It was awful.


He got off on a technicality though.


Damn lawyers."




_____




Events at the Pre-Trial Hearing 10/18/2010—What was said by the other party, and my rebuttals:


This "pre-trial hearing" thing is really just the judge's attempt to get the two parties to hammer out their differences without going to a bench trial.

The warring parties gather in a small room to see if a compromise can be made.

In this instance, it turned out to be the cluster-fuck I imagined it would be.
I also figured the other party would not be able to shut their mouths, and that they would give me some valuable insight as to how they were going to approach their case.
The other party would not disappoint.
I and my wife remained calm and relatively quiet...not revealing our strategy.

I stated to the other party that my stance on the matter was clear: I believed they were negligent and careless while watching the two Rottweilers. The dogs escaped their care, attacked me on my property, and I defended myself.


My offer to the other party was this: You drop your suit, and I'll drop mine.

The other party got belligerent almost immediately, refusing to accept my offer.


I then stated that I believed we had nothing further to discuss, and that we would settle this matter in court.


The other party called us liars, and we were accused of a number of things that simply were not true.


My neighbor got up in my face, as well as my wife's face.

The other party continued to raise their voices, and their belligerent attitude grew.


I had to call in the bailiff to get order restored. The bailiff ordered my neighbor to get out of my and my wife’s personal space.

My neighbor continued to mutter insults at my wife and I.

He finally quit talking when his wife told him to be quiet.


At this point, the other party left the room and began filling out paperwork.


Then, my neighbor stood in the doorway of the room, glaring hatefully at my wife and I for a period of at least five minutes.
Statements made by the other party at the pre-trial hearing regarding the case, and my rebuttals:“You knew all along where the Rottweilers came from. We have a history of watching these two dogs during the July 4th holiday for our son and daughter-in-law. We’ve been doing it for years. You knew that as well. Your daughter played with the two Rottweiler dogs in our back yard several years ago. She knew from where the dogs came.”
False. My wife and I had never seen the two Rottweiler dogs before the morning of July 5th.

The other party seems to think that we pay a lot more attention to their activities than we really do.

We are a busy family with three active teenagers in high school.

We actually have jobs, extra-curricular activities, and things we enjoy doing.

We don’t monitor the activities or the comings and goings at our neighbor's residence 24/7, and it is not our duty to do so.

We have neither the time nor the interest.


Also, the six-foot-high privacy fence around our neighbor's backyard prevents us from seeing what is going on and what kind of animals are in their possession.


At the time of the incident on the morning of July 5, 2010, my daughter was asleep.

This neighborhood is awash in loose, unrestrained dogs and cats. It is not my duty to establish ownership of every stray or unrestrained animal in the neighborhood, nor would it have been my duty to wake my daughter to ask her if she knew to whom the two loose Rottweilers belonged.


On 10/18/2010, I asked my daughter if she had ever seen the two Rottweilers at our neighbor's residence.

She replied that she remembers seeing one large black colored dog over there a few years ago, and she was told by our neighbor at that time that the dog would not bite her.
My daughter stated that she did not play with the dog at that time and did not get close to it because she was scared of it.

My daughter also stated that she did not know if the black colored dog she saw at that time was a Rottweiler or not, because she was not sure what a Rottweiler looked like.


The dog owner asked, “You say you were attacked. Were you bitten?”
My reply was, “No, I wasn’t, because I defended myself before they could get to me. I wasn’t going to let two Rottweilers get to me. That would be stupid.”
Then he said, “Our veterinarian says our dog was shot from behind, not from the front. That means they were running away from you, not attacking you, when you shot.”
False. Your vet is mistaken.

I have both my and my wife’s sworn testimony that says so.

Other than myself, my wife is the only witness to the incident.


Also, it is interesting that the investigating police officers, (who saw the dog’s wound when it was still fresh), and detectives never once questioned whether the dogs were attacking me or running away from me when I fired. And, if you and your vet are so sure the dog was shot from behind, why didn’t you bring this startling new evidence to the attention of the police?

I’ll tell you why, because it never happened the way you and your vet say it did.

Your vet wasn’t there to witness the events of July 5th.

Neither were any of the other party. Some of you were out of town, and others were asleep or otherwise unaware of the two Rottweilers’ where-abouts.


Is your vet a ballistics expert? A bullet wound expert? A forensic pathologist?


I fired the shot at the dog closest to me as he was coming towards me and as I was back peddling. My wife will testify under oath to this fact, as will I.
“You could have called Animal Control.”
July 5, 2010 was a National Holiday. Animal Control was closed and not staffed.
“The police report says you ran inside your house to get a gun as soon as you saw the dogs the first time, then you immediately went back outside and shot one of the dogs.”
False. I did not “run” anywhere. That was simply a poor choice of words by the officer making the report.

I made numerous attempts (by looking out several windows, and from my enclosed back porch) to visually locate the dogs from inside my home before going outside to see if the coast was clear one final time before I began my yard work.

I did not see the dogs again until I was outside my home and exposed to the two Rottweilers in my own front yard.

By that time, it was too late to make phone calls, establish ownership of the dogs, or do anything else except defend myself.



_____


Trial Day

The bench trial was a Pyrrhic victory of sorts.

The other party didn’t get the $6000 they wanted, but I have to pay them half of their first vet bill and court costs.


I will accept the judge’s decision with good cheer and move on with my life, because that’s what adults do.

In a nutshell, apparently, society today doesn't care for serious do-it-your-selfers like me to take care of business on my own.

I wouldn't call what I'm feeling satisfaction.


I did the best I could presenting my case.


I had been preparing for this since the day of the incident.


My wife and kids are proud of me.

That's all that matters to me.


The other party was woefully unprepared, looked stupid most of the time, and apparently didn't educate themselves on small claims court procedures.

The other party produced letters supposedly from other homeowners on my street saying what wonderful people my neighbors are and what a prick I am.

The other party stated I fired "multiple shots" at their dogs. Fail.
They also produced a letter from their vet, who they said was a "bullet wound expert."
In the letter, the vet said the gun I used was a .22 (wrong), and that the shot "likely" came from behind the dog (wrong.)
The judge noted that the vet was not present at the trial.
The judge shot down damn near all of their evidence as hearsay and bullshit, and questioned why the other party was trying to claim $6000 in damages.

The other party claimed emotional stress and pain for their entire family, especially their daughter, who is allegedly so traumatized and afraid of me now that she can't visit her Grandpa, my neighbor, anymore, as the reason for the exorbitant claim, but they could not show evidence of this.
(I'm guessing that if they hadn't filled the little girl with lies, she wouldn't be so mentally scarred from all this. Interestingly, the little girl visited her Grandpa the day before the trial, and was playing and frolicking like little girls do. I was very happy to see this.)
The judge asked if the little girl had been to counseling. The other party said, "No, we can't afford it."
Shot down in flames again...
Basically, I beat myself by doing what I always do.

I never spoke a lie, and I told the complete truth from the beginning, revealing too many details.


The truth may or may not set you free, but it sure as hell will make you miserable in the meantime.


Maybe.
But...I don't have any feelings of guilt about what I did, and I don't regret shooting the dog.
The judge said: "The Court finds comparative fault. Although Mr. Zoomie has self-defense rights, he chose (after retreating to safety and 'cuz he's a dumb Jarhead), to expose himself to danger and not call law enforcement until after shooting. The Court finds Mr. Zoomie 50% fault."


I have to pay 50% of the vet bill and court costs.


Here's the kicker...something I didn't know until after the trial...my neighbor, who was watching the dogs, was found to be 50% at fault and has to pay the other half of the vet bill..to the dogs' owners...their own son and daughter-in law.
I'm just guessing, but I imagine my half will be the only half the dog owner receives.

Maybe the judge isn't such a dick after all.


Or not.


I'm glad I didn't send him the nasty letter I typed up!


The sad part about this entire incident is that the other party never...not once...admitted any wrong-doing or responsibility what-so-ever.

I don't know why, but it still amazes me how some people in our society have a total lack of integrity or honor.

They stand for nothing except themselves and their own selfish interests.

_____

I paid the judgment in full immediately because I am a good American and a man of peace...like Gandhi or Mandela.
I asked the clerk if I get a lollipop or a bumper sticker or a key chain or a souvenir bobble head doll of the judge for my troubles...and my cash.
(I could tell she dug me because of my devilish good looks and my rapier wit. Who could blame her?)
She laughed and handed me a huge bucket of Dum-Dums.
So...I fingered through the bucket and asked her, "What is this crap? Don't you have any good American flavors? I don't want no stinkin' pomegranate flavored sucker."
She found a cherry sucker for me, and I said, "Perfect. George Washington and shit..."
As I departed, I said, "I'm gonna try real hard to never come back here again."
She just stood there with her elbows on the counter and her chin cupped in her hands...staring blissfully off into space.
I could have made her mine if I wanted to.
Maybe.

_____


I know the American people
Paid a high price for justice
And I don't know why
Nobody seems to know why

You've got to stand for something
Or you're gonna fall for anything
You've gotta stand right up for somethin'
Or you're gonna fall....for anything

-John Mellencamp