The Aftermath: Gun Shop Owner Shoots Burglar

Welcome to Aftermath, a portion of our First Line email newsletter where Attorney Anthony L. DeWitt walks you through a real-life self-defense incident and shares his key takeaways.

Gun Shop Owner Shoots Burglar

A 79-year-old military veteran, Raymond Balcerowicz of Crosby, Texas, was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by a loud noise at the gun shop attached to his residence. According to ABC Channel 13 News, Balcerowicz went out — armed — to investigate and found the doors to his shop had been pulled off by a car using chains. When the trio of burglars saw him, they shot at him but missed. Using a tree as cover, the owner returned fire. He did not miss. The trio left behind a blood trail, and police later found a 20-year-old man dead next to several stolen guns.

In Review

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What did the owner in this incident do right? What would you have done differently?

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He grabbed a firearm to go check on the noise. He also sought cover quickly. Since the scenario just said, he heard a noise, and described the door ripped open by a car, using a chain, I don’t know that I would have done anything different. Having heard that particular noise before, in a legal way, I can tell you it is a startling noise. But, not one that screams “call 911” in my mind.

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In Arizona , under ARS 13-408, a person can use reasonable physical force to prevent theft or criminal damage of property that’s currently under their control and possession. However, if only the loss of personal property is threatened, one cannot use deadly force .

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I cannot say I would have done anything different at 0430 unless I knew that people had entered the building. I’ve heard noises before and even had alarms sounding where I investigated without calling the police.

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My military training would of told me to do the same thing this gun shop owner did. no problem

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I do believe the State of Texas still permits the use of force to protect property: [https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/docs/PE/htm/PE.9.htm];

  1. “SUBCHAPTER D. PROTECTION OF PROPERTY
    Sec. 9.41. PROTECTION OF ONE’S OWN PROPERTY. (a) A person in lawful possession of land or tangible, movable property is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the other’s trespass on the land or unlawful interference with the property.”

And 2. " Sec. 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:

(1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and

(2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

(A) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or

(B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and

(3) he reasonably believes that:

(A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or

(B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury."


I do believe the property / store owner was justified in a) protecting self, b) protecting property, c) attempting to halt the burglary and removal of firearms which may (likely) be used in further crimes.

Always practice.

Stay safe.

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Dear Anthony:
You are absolutely incorrect regarding Texas Law (as previously annotated) where this unfolded.
In Texas (and possibly a few other states), it is a reasonable defense to use deadly force to prevent loss of personal property.
Such defense is unfortunately NOT universally applicable in all states.
I’m sure in Kalifornia, or New Jork - they’d rather the criminal have escaped with multiple firearms to be sold to other criminals on the black market? Just ONE of the many reasons I live in Texas.

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Everything.

  • he investigated with his firearm (4:30 am means - keep your firearm on you)
  • he returned fire AFTER they shot at him
  • he did not miss

Probably nothing (I don’t have a whole picture how he approached burglars).

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I’m glad many already posted the truth that in Texas we are allowed to use deadly force to protect property. It doesn’t even have to be personal property. I can use deadly force to stop leftist from damaging statues that they like destroying.

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I had a similar situation at a summer home, put key in lock and door pushed open. First instinct was to back off the X to cover and call for backup. One caveat. Any LEO outside their municipal jurisdiction does not have sovereign immunity nor the duty to investigate. This man’s military training kicked in as would any LEO’s. Know when to turn it off.
As story disclosed, There were 3 subjects and bad guys travel in packs. It’s only property for which we have insurance. He was lucky subjects had not split up or had a look out. My training has always been call for back up. Prime objective? Return home safe at end of work. Nothing is more important than your life and family.

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So I guess you just watch as someone breaks into your house garage or what ever an let them take what ever they want? And that’s what’s wrong with you leftists and millennials and why home owners insurance is so high and they usually get away with it I myself will put them down because by the time your so called police get off there over weight doughnut eating asses the criminals are gone I don’t need the police to protect me or my property stay out of my yard and keep your hands off my property you won’t end up dead or severely injured

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The attorney already said it. The only thing I could add is that by the time the police arrives, if the home owner did nothing other than call, chances of recovering his stolen goods would be slim. Ditto for the guys getting caught. So if you don’t have sufficient insurance (and they will either raise your rates astronomically or drop your policy) then you may want to call 911 and then confront the robbers from a position of strength speak solid cover. You definitely do not want to open fire first and ask queso a later. This may have worked fine in the 1800s but certainly not today. Plus your putting your life at risk for some “stuff”! Something to consider.

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You should live in a gated community with security guards patrolling you house and hope that in the event someone breaks in that the security gets there before something bad happens to you. We own guns for a reason to protect are self and are property and that’s why we fight to keep are right to own and bare arms you leftists should go live on an island where you all can eat rainbow stew

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In az you can shoot them

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Ya it’s to bad we don’t still live in the 1800’s because there’s be a lot of dead criminals the so called police are no more then tax collectors and organized gang members themselves everyone should have the right put forcibly stop you from trespassing and or stealing property for any reason stay out of places you don’t belong or are not welcome and keep your hands to yourselves you won’t end up dead or severely injured

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I know. It’s to bad other states don’t practice the same laws I think state laws should be abolished and only federal law should prevail we should only practice the original bill of rights and do away with all this bull that they try to and are forcing down are throats

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I’d have dialed 911(to cover my butt)and then followed the same route
as my fellow trained killer to protect the public from the guns that they were
after,but maybe aimed to disable their vehicle first.

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Perhaps shooting out their tires in the first place,Detlef.

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In this case protecting the public from the property they were trying to steal.

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Do some states authorize the use of force to prevent the theft of property that is inherently dangerous to others, ie: firearms?

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