Legally armed homeowner catches thief, is jailed for firing warning shot
A 61-year-old New Hampshire man is facing felony charges for firing a warning shot into the ground before apprehending a burglar who had just ransacked his home.
WMUR-TV reported that Dennis Fleming caught the thief coming out of a neighbor’s home and held him at gunpoint until police arrived. But despite the support of his neighbors, police have charged him with reckless conduct for firing the warning shot.
“I fired into the ground, to the left of him,” Fleming said. “There was nothing but woods behind him. I’ve owned guns my whole life and I pretty much was sure what I was doing.”
Police arrested Joseph Hebert, 27, for allegedly breaking into two homes in the neighborhood earlier that day.
After Fleming arrived home Saturday afternoon and saw that had been burglarized, he took his .38 caliber handgun with him to ask neighbors if they had seen the suspect. He found Hebert a bit later.
“I saw the guy, he crash-banged out of a house right down the road here and I happened to see,” Fleming told WMUR. “I approached him with a gun, told him to stop, [and] fired a warning shot.” (RELATED: Check out TheDC’s Guns and Gear section)
He found stolen goods from his home and other’s in a backpack Hebert was carrying.
Later that Saturday police arrested Fleming on a felony reckless conduct charge.
Fleming’s neighbors see him as a hero, not a criminal.
“For what little we have nowadays, and people just come and take what you got, I think it was good that someone finally did something about it,” neighborhood resident David Bernardini said.
When he described his run in with the burglar, Fleming told the New Hampshire Union-Leader: “I just wanted him to take me serious. He did.”
The felony charge could carry as much as a 7-year prison sentence. “Even knowing what I face, I would do it again,” Fleming said.
“I’m hoping it won’t come to [prison],” he added, but I’ve got broad shoulders, so I’ll deal with it.” Fleming said, adding he has 14 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Update: Charges against Mr. Flemming were dropped.