PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Washington man suspected of trying to steal an unoccupied car from a driveway was held at gunpoint by the owner until police arrived Tuesday morning, according to Kelso police records obtained by KOIN 6 News.
The police report says the encounter started around 5:40 a.m. when a woman called 911 saying her husband caught someone trying to break into their car after he started it remotely from inside.
According to the report, the man went outside while his wife called 911 and he held the suspect at gunpoint in his driveway until police arrived to arrest him.
Akin Blitz, a lawyer who specializes in public safety and the use of force, explained that in this case, property owners have the right to show a gun — but the law doesn’t allow them to use deadly force to defend property outside their homes.
For this homeowner, there were other choices — I’m not gonna criticize him for going outside and doing what he did the way he did it,” Blitz said. “Everybody’s fortunate that it ended well.”
The lawyer went on to say law enforcement officials recommend staying at a distance, being a good witness and waiting till officers arrive because there’s always a chance the suspect doesn’t cooperate and the situation can easily escalate into a deadly shooting.
The suspect, Martin Njuki, appeared in court Wednesday on charges of attempted theft of a vehicle.
Blitz said those who choose to respond by defending their property with a firearm need to be prepared for their choices to be scrutinized for days, weeks and months by a prosecutor and grand jury.