3/27/2008 Fresno (KFSN) -- A Fresno man who caught someone trying to break into his neighbor's home this week used a shotgun to hold the suspect until police arrived. The suspect was arrested but the reaction to the man's neighborly conduct is mixed.
Miranda Uhrig was sleeping as a man went into her backyard and started looking around. "About five feet away from me, this guy was in there going through stuff taking my things five feet away from my door," Uhrig said.
Uhrig's neighbor noticed something was going on and called police to report the crime. "The citizen also reported that he was armed with a shotgun, the citizen was, and he had the suspect detained," said Sgt. Rich Escalante with the Fresno Police Department.
41-year-old Leland Vasquez was taken into custody when police arrived. Police said Vasquez had just been paroled for theft when he was caught apparently trying to steal aluminum cans. Vasquez is also accused of trying to get into the house by prying on doors and windows. Miranda Uhrig is grateful her neighbor took action. "Honestly, it's nice to know that you have people down here that actually care enough to do something for you when something's happening," said Uhrig.
Sgt. Escalante says Uhrig's neighbor got into a little trouble with police over the incident. "The citizen was actually told by the communication center, our dispatchers, to put down the gun before the officers arrived. Unfortunately, he did not, so when the officers arrived they were a little concerned for their safety." Escalante said the neighbor was briefly detained but eventually released.
Police Chief Jerry Dyer says it is good that neighbors are watching out for each other, but he also urged people to think twice about using a gun to detain a suspect. "If a person is going to take that next step and arm themselves with a firearm and detain somebody they suspect of being involved in a crime, it's important that that person feel very confident and trained with that firearm before they do that," said Dyer.
Police say if you ever witness a crime in progress, you should stay inside and call police with a suspect description and a direction of travel, if he or she leaves. The armed neighbor didn't want to talk on camera about this incident, but he told Action News he did get a 'good talking to' by Fresno Police.