Police: Man killed in Suffolk break-in had no gun

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Thread: Police: Man killed in Suffolk break-in had no gun

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    Police: Man killed in Suffolk break-in had no gun

    So much wrong here...

    Everybody first needs to shut up, and the newsies need to stop making thieves look like Boy Scouts.

    Police: Man killed in Suffolk break-in had no gun | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com

    A man who was shot to death early Sunday by the owner of the store he had broken into did not have a gun, a police spokeswoman said Monday.

    James Howard Durden Jr. fired from outside his convenience store and in through a window at Ernest Scott Roop, 38, after he was alerted from home in the early morning hours Sunday to the break-in at his nearby business.

    Debbie George, the police spokeswoman, said Durden told police that Roop "pointed something at him," but she said she did not know if that was when Durden fired. In the store, police found a tire iron that they think Roop used, but it was not near his body, she said.

    Meanwhile, police tested Durden's blood for alcohol after they noted - and a breath test confirmed - the presence of it on him shortly after the shooting, according to a search warrant filed Monday in Circuit Court.

    Those details, as well as a review of surveillance camera footage, are part of an investigation into whether Durden, 46, was justified in firing his .45-caliber handgun at his J&L Food Mart in the rural village of Whaleyville.

    The case then will be sent to the commonwealth's attorney to decide whether it warrants criminal charges, George said.

    In general, the law is very grudging on private citizens' use of lethal force, but it is more clear on the right to kill to protect a life than on doing so to protect property, said Anne Coughlin, a criminal law professor at the University of Virginia.

    Such cases are rare, and there is no recent Virginia case law on the topic, Coughlin said. Details such as how threatened Durden felt will come into play, she said.


    "This is a tough, tough call for a prosecutor," she said.

    Durden did not respond to a message left at his store Monday, and no one answered the door at his home.

    He was badly shaken by the incident, said Mike Fowler, a friend who was with Durden's family the day after the shooting. He said he was confident Durden did what he felt he had to do.

    The friends both own businesse s and have talked about how they would handle a burglary. Their consensus, Fowler said, was to shoot only if their life depended on it.


    "There's no way in hell James Durden would have fired on somebody unless he felt 100 percent his life was in danger," Fowler said. "If anybody thinks he went up there like John Wayne and started shooting through the window like a damn fool, they're crazy."

    The window, at the side of the store, had four bullet holes. Two men from Suffolk Glass Inc. replaced the 3-foot-by-7-foot pane Monday. One of them, Sam Morris, said he replaced the same window about six months earlier on another burglary attempt.

    Durden had been the victim of multiple break-ins, Fowler said. None had been reported to the police within the past two years, according to the department's crime analyst, George said.

    Less than half a mile down the road, Michele Dunning said her general store has been broken into four times since September. A suspect in two of the cases was being prosecuted, she said.

    Few other businesses operate on the road that runs through Whaleyville. At the Food Mart, farm fields border two sides of the parking lot. Durden's home is just across the street.

    Inside the store, business seemed to run as usual Monday. Three men smoked cigarettes at a small table between the soft drink coolers and the racks of bread. One of them, Emmett Jessee, said he felt sorry for the man who was shot but believed Durden was in the right.

    Over by the register, at least three surveillance cameras looked down. Another pointed out toward the gas pumps through the window Durden shot into.


    The call to police came at 4:04 a.m. from someone from Durden's home, according to the search warrant. Minutes earlier, a device similar to a baby monitor had crackled to life in the house, alerting the Durdens to the break-in, George said.

    Fowler said the couple kept the device by their bed. Durden's wife went along to check on the store, saw the man inside and yelled at him through the window to leave, Fowler said.

    About two minutes into the call to police, the caller said shots had been fired, George said. The search warrant said the caller told police an unknown man was dead in the store.

    That man was Roop. To friends and family, he was "Scotty."

    He had struggled for years with drug addiction, his parents said Monday from their home, where Roop had been living.

    He had a criminal record, including a felony burglary conviction in 2003 that earned him jail time and was revoked twice, according to online court records.

    He also had an energetic, playful way about him and a 13-year-old daughter whom he adored, his parents said. He had recently befriended a 6-year-old neighbor boy who has cystic fibrosis.

    "Whenever he was sober, he was a sweetheart," said his mother, Diane Roop.

    Scott Roop recalled the time his son insisted on camping out on the side of a mountain, way up past where his family's hunting party spent the night. Then there was the time his cheap reel broke on a big catfish, so he stripped to his underwear and jumped into a cold pond to pull the line in by hand.

    The Roops said their son tried to quit his drug habit several times. He'd get clean and start eating right and exercising for a few months, but inevitably he'd falter.


    "He was a kind guy," Scott Roop said. "That's the thing about it that's so disturbing."
    "Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18

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  3. #2
    Distinguished Member Array pcon's Avatar
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    hmm...I'm not really sure what to think about this at the moment. Durden may feel that his life was in danger, but I don't know if shooting first was really the answer. I'd be interested in seeing how this played out.
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  4. #3
    Member Array fatcat's Avatar
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    Tough call to say either way at this point. If the shooter legitimately had fear for his life, you cannot blame him. His friend sounds convinced that the shooter would never cowboy up and overreact, and if the defense can dig up more character witnesses like that, the charges probably won't stick.

    On the other hand, if the security cameras tell a story that puts the shooter in a bad light he might be in trouble.

    Personally, if my store was being broken into, I'd call the cops. And if I was at the scene I would just stealth out and wait for the police to arrive. I would just hope to get some visual info on the cameras that would give up the crook.

    Sometimes thieves are killers, but usually they are just thieves. For the most part thieves break into stores after-hours. When pushed they can become killers, but the average store robber is not usually as murderous as a home invader, or the open store robber.

    I'm not saying any of this to explain what happened, just pointing out what the lawyers are going to have to deal with as they build their cases.

  5. #4
    Senior Member Array usmc3169's Avatar
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    Most of the time thieves are not killers.... doesnt help the people that encounter the ones that are. Some one is willing to break into my house or place of business, is some one who is potentially dangerous. If they then point something at me I have to assume they are going to try to hurt me - especially if I am already pointing a gun at them.

    What really ticks me off about this article is how the press goes out of its way to try and paint the thief as the victim here. He is the one who made the decision to break the law and put other people potentially into harms way.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

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    New Member Array ProphetPoet's Avatar
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    It seems, in this case of robbery, there was no forcible felony which had been committed. Therefore, I don't think the store owner was justified in this shooting. Another strike against him is his Blood Alcohol Level, which is not stated...only that there was the "presence" of alcohol.

    Sadly, the perp is painted with a halo & angel wings. His problems gave him no right to B&E. Did his crime warrant his slaying? Probably not, based on this account.

    I'm all for self-defense & concealed carry. With that comes the responsibility to know your rules of engagement.

    Just my 2 cents.

  7. #6
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    Too bad all the states don't have TX laws, then the stealing dirtbags CAN be shot, and I don't have a problem with that. OMO and I'm entitled to that.
    Someone breaks into you home or business...done deal!
    As Uncle Ted says, "No repeat offenders, just dead offenders!"

    Hope this business owner comes out on top!
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  8. #7
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    "Such cases are rare, and there is no recent Virginia case law on the topic, Coughlin said. Details such as how threatened Durden felt will come into play, she said." - Anne Coughlin, criminal law professor at the University of Virginia

    Incorrect.

    There is a very recent case similar to this that occurred a couple of years back and to that end the citizen was charged but a jury refused to indict. And in that case the BG was in fact armed with a firearm but the GG fired on to him hitting him in the back as the BG had been leaving the scene.
    Baskin-Robbins in Richmond, VA

    Additionally just over a month ago a case of a man using lethal force _properly_ to defend a human and his property resulted in him being charged with murder.
    VCU student charged with murder in Union Hill shooting
    Alleged Union Hill shooter released on bond
    Vigil for shooting victim sparks varied reaction

    And then here is the clincher; Richmond police say Leigh Street shooting victim was unarmed

    So again the criminal law professor as quoted in the article is incorrect.
    Even if she does not recall the then not small news item of the Baskins-Robbins case (it made national news coverage), this second and most recent case of exact same from May 2009 should be on her radar considering her profession and it's timeliness.

    This gentleman here in the present even as he is in VA, and that in VA defense of property is by statute lawful, he is trouble...big time trouble.
    More on VA defense statutes and case law can be found here;
    * VA Statute - LIS > Code of Virginia > 18.2-280
    * Case law - http://www.vcdl.org/pdf/Virginia-self-defense-cases.pdf

    I'll bet anything that in this case Mr. Durden had night sights on his firearm, but did _not_ have means to illuminate the area or BG in specific so as to _verify_ his identity and threat level as being armed and to what degree.
    This is key and does get folks in serious preventable and avoidable trouble.

    Invest in a good and BRIGHT flashlight, and do so ahead of night sights if cost consideration comes down to choosing one rather than both.



    - Janq would not have fired, even as the BG might have had the crowbar in hand
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

  9. #8
    Member Array llred's Avatar
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    To me that is the risk the thief took. If you are going to break in and steal from somebody especially in these hard times, you are taking a risk of being killed. I feel the store owner had the right, because his livelihood was at stake.

  10. #9
    Distinguished Member Array tinkerinWstuff's Avatar
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    We used to hang people for stealing horses. I'm just saying..... Keep your paws on your own bone and there's no problem.
    "Run for your life from the man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another-their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun."

    Who is John Galt?

  11. #10
    Distinguished Member Array PastorPack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paramedic70002 View Post
    He had a criminal record, including a felony burglary conviction in 2003 that earned him jail time and was revoked twice, according to online court records.

    He also had an energetic, playful way about him and a 13-year-old daughter whom he adored, his parents said. He had recently befriended a 6-year-old neighbor boy who has cystic fibrosis.

    "Whenever he was sober, he was a sweetheart," said his mother, Diane Roop.

    Don't think this shoot was justified , besides the shooter should have notioced the "energetic, playful way" this repeat offender "sweetheart" was robbing his store.

    From Fiddler on the Roof: "He'll beat you every night, but only when he's sober, so you're alright."
    God is love (1 John 4:8)

  12. #11
    Senior Member Array jofrdo's Avatar
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    I'm afraid the storeowner is going to be in trouble. Hopefully, the prosecutor will send it to a grand jury who may be sympathetic to his position and aquit; especially if he can present as evidence how many other times his store has been robbed in recent history.

  13. #12
    Distinguished Member Array tinkerinWstuff's Avatar
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    This reminds me of one of those chain-emails I recently received:

    It is now closer to reality than you think. You're sound asleep when you hear a thump outside your bedroom door. Half-awake, and nearly paralyzed with fear, you hear muffled whispers. At least two people have broken into your house and are moving your way. With your heart pumping, you reach down beside your bed and pick up your shotgun. You rack a shell into the chamber, then inch toward the door and open it. In the darkness, you make out two shadows.

    One holds something that looks like a crowbar. When the intruder brandishes it as if to strike, you raise the shotgun and fire. The blast knocks both thugs to the floor. One writhes and screams while the second man crawls to the front door and lurches outside. As you pick up the telephone to call police, you know you're in trouble.

    In your country, most guns were outlawed years before, and the few That are privately owned are so stringently regulated as to make them useless. Yours was never registered. Police arrive and inform you that the second burglar has died. They arrest you for First Degree Murder and Illegal Possession of a Firearm. When you talk to your attorney, he tells you not to worry: authorities will probably plea the case down to manslaughter.

    "What kind of sentence will I get?" you ask.

    "Only ten-to-twelve years," he replies, as if that's nothing. "Behave yourself, and you'll be out in seven."

    The next day, the shooting is the lead story in the local newspaper. Somehow, you're portrayed as an eccentric vigilante while the two men you shot are represented as choirboys. Their friends and relatives can't find an unkind word to say about them. Buried deep down in the article, authorities acknowledge that both "victims" have been arrested numerous times. But the next day's headline says it all: "Lovable Rogue Son Didn't Deserve to Die." The thieves have been transformed from career criminals into Robin Hood-type pranksters. As the days wear on, the story takes wings. The national media picks it up, then the international media. The surviving burglar has become a folk hero.

    Your attorney says the thief is preparing to sue you, and he'll probably win. The media publishes reports that your home has been burglarized several times in the past and that you've been critical of local police for their lack of effort in apprehending the suspects. After the last break-in, you told your neighbor that you would be prepared next time. The District Attorney uses this to allege that you were lying in wait for the burglars.

    A few months later, you go to trial. The charges haven't been reduced, as your lawyer had so confidently predicted. When you take the stand, your anger at the injustice of it all works against you. Prosecutors paint a picture of you as a mean, vengeful man. It doesn't take long for the jury to convict you of all charges.

    The judge sentences you to life in prison.

    This case really happened.

    On August 22, 1999, Tony Martin of Emneth, Norfolk , England , killed one burglar and wounded a second. In April, 2000, he was convicted and is now serving a life term.

    How did it become a crime to defend one's own life in the once great British Empire ?

    It started with the Pistols Act of 1903. This seemingly reasonable law forbade selling pistols to minors or felons and established that handgun sales were to be made only to those who had a license. The Firearms Act of 1920 expanded licensing to include not only handguns but all firearms except shotguns.

    Later laws passed in 1953 and 1967 outlawed the carrying of any weapon by private citizens and mandated the registration of all shotguns.

    Momentum for total handgun confiscation began in earnest after the Hungerford mass shooting in 1987. Michael Ryan, a mentally disturbed Man with a Kalashnikov rifle, walked down the streets shooting everyone he saw. When the smoke cleared, 17 people were dead.

    The British public, already de-sensitized by eighty years of "gun control", demanded even tougher restrictions. (The seizure of all privately owned handguns was the objective even though Ryan used a rifle.)

    Nine years later, at Dunblane , Scotland , Thomas Hamilton used a semi-automatic weapon to murder 16 children and a teacher at a public school.

    For many years, the media had portrayed all gun owners as mentally unstable, or worse, criminals. Now the press had a real kook with which to beat up law-abiding gun owners. Day after day, week after week, the media gave up all pretense of objectivity and demanded a total ban on all handguns. The Dunblane Inquiry, a few months later, Sealed the fate of the few sidearm still owned by private citizens.

    During the years in which the British government incrementally took Away most gun rights, the notion that a citizen had the right to armed self-defense came to be seen as vigilantism. Authorities refused to grant gun licenses to people who were threatened, claiming that self-defense was no longer considered a reason to own a gun. Citizens who shot burglars or robbers or rapists were charged while the real criminals were released.

    Indeed, after the Martin shooting, a police spokesman was quoted as saying, "We cannot have people take the law into their own hands."

    All of Martin's neighbors had been robbed numerous times, and several elderly people were severely injured in beatings by young thugs who had no fear of the consequences. Martin himself, a collector of antiques, had seen most of his collection trashed or stolen by burglars.

    When the Dunblane Inquiry ended, citizens who owned handguns were given three months to turn them over to local authorities. Being good British subjects, most people obeyed the law. The few who didn't were visited by police and threatened with ten-year prison sentences if they didn't comply. Police later bragged that they'd taken nearly 200,000 handguns from private citizens.

    How did the authorities know who had handguns? The guns had been registered and licensed. Kinda like cars.

    Sound familiar?

    WAKE UP AMERICA , THIS IS WHY OUR FOUNDING FATHERS PUT THE SECOND AMENDMENT IN OUR CONSTITUTION.
    I didn't factcheck or snopes this thing so I hope it's not too far off from the real facts :)
    "Run for your life from the man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another-their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun."

    Who is John Galt?

  14. #13
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Meanwhile, police tested Durden's blood for alcohol after they noted - and a breath test confirmed - the presence of it on him shortly after the shooting, according to a search warrant filed Monday in Circuit Court.
    Good example of how alcohol is a question in many instances of the use of force. If he'd been drinking ... and drinking can affect judgment, then ...

    Interesting step, going on-site to scan/clear the facility, instead of calling police. That simple step could have avoided the whole nightmare he's about to go through.

    If he was defending himself, then he's going to need a good attorney, I think, because some elements of the situation can be twisted against him relatively easily.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
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  15. #14
    Senior Member Array Phillep Harding's Avatar
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    I've seen a couple of videos of people getting shot and they flail their arms all over. In this case, the burglar could have had that tire iron in his hand and thrown it across the store, or he could have had nearly any sort of product in his hand and it blended in with the other things in the store so the police did not notice it.

    I find the store owner's claim plausible. More information needed.

  16. #15
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Agreed CCW9mm.

    1. Call the COPS!;
    2. Tell the wife to stay her butt in the house rather than running off to the shop to 'check things out'...and do nothing but get herself hurt/killed (!);
    3. If you are going to go then get armed with something other than a handgun...Like a longarm of some sort which allows for both standoff distance _and_ reach out and accurately scratch someone from a distance capability;
    4. Drive up on the place with highbeams aimed into and at the store;
    5. WAIT for the COPS (!);
    6. Watch Deebo get cuffed and stuffed.

    No amount of insured, or uninsured, _product_ loss is worth losing ones own life nor is it equal to or greater than the cost of a criminal defense fight in state court against a DA. Duh.

    So the BG makes off with some ding-dongs, yohoo, and several packs of cigs.
    Okay that sucks and so does the cost of repairing the door he broke through.
    But that and a cop call is a heck of a lot less expensive than attorneys fees and sleeping in an 8x12 with some guys named Tyrone, Jesus, and 'Big Poppa Pump' whilst your wife is left to figure out a way to survive on her own and pay the defense attorneys bill as well.

    In my world knick-knacks, replaceables, and insured items are not worth my life or my my familys security and wealth.
    Folks should consider this now as when the heat of the moment comes by happenstance it'll be too late to think things through as you then are reacting according to a plan that was not really all that well fleshed out before hand.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

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