Grandpa Arrested for Holding Burglar at Gunpoint

The Republic Magazine reports:

The police did nothing to prevent the robbery of Dennis Fleming’s home in Farmington, New Hampshire, or to catch the burglar – but they may succeed in sending the 61-year-old grandfather to prison for using a handgun to apprehend the man suspected of several local break-ins.

On February 19, Fleming discovered that his home had been robbed. Spying a suspicious-looking man with a backpack, Fleming grabbed his handgun and strode off in pursuit.

Shortly thereafter, Fleming heard a loud crash and saw the same suspicious man jumping out of a neighbor’s rear window. Holding out his handgun, Fleming ordered the intruder to freeze, firing a single round into the ground. He detained the suspect until the police arrived.

The suspect, 27-year-old Joseph Herbert, was found to be in possession of a number of stolen items, including antique watches and silver coins. There is evidence that the same suspect had been involved in a string of robberies elsewhere in town.

A few hours later, Fleming called the police to find out if the suspect had been released on bail. To his amazement, Fleming discovered that he because he had harmlessly discharged his firearm into the ground, he was going to be charged with reckless conduct – a Class B felony that could result in a prison sentence of the same length confronted by the robber he had detained.

“I didn’t think I could handle this guy physically, so I fired into the ground,” Fleming told a local Fox News affiliate. “He stopped. He knew I was serious. I was angry … and I was worried that this guy was going to come after me.”

If Fleming had been wearing a government-issued costume, he could have justified shooting the suspect – or even an innocent bystander — in the name of “officer safety,” without facing criminal charges. Furthermore, New Hampshire’s recently expanded “Castle Law” recognizes that Fleming – like all other citizens of the Granite State – has an unqualified right to armed self-defense. As Judge Andrew Napolitano points out, Fleming’s action reflects a “uniquely American way to protect his property and to protect his neighbor’s property.”

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Fox News reports on the sentiment of the locals:

Penny Dean, a spokeswoman for the Gun Owners of New Hampshire, said her organization is “absolutely outraged” by Fleming’s arrest.

“This homeowner fired at the ground, from all accounts, in a safe direction and held a burglar for police and did things correctly,” Dean told “The fact that this man would be charged is an outrage. Burglars in New Hampshire must know it’s open season, since homeowners cannot defend themselves, as evidenced by this case. This is charging the victim.”

Rick Pelkey, Fleming’s longtime neighbor, said he’s now worried how the “straight-forward, working-class guy” will pay legal fees associated with the arrest.

“I think it’s outrageous,” Pelkey told “He did the community a service here. We ought to thank him for it.”

He sounds like a dangerous terrist to me.

Of course, the reason why Fleming was charged was because he completely undermined the need for a police force.  If everyone ran around arresting criminals on their own, pretty soon people might figure out that they don’t need to pay through the nose for a completely ineffective police force that robs them at gun point for going 10 over the speed limit.

Listen to economist Robert Murphy explain how the private market could deal with these situations.


Super-awesome update!

The county attorney’s office is dropping charges against a man who tracked down a burglary suspect and held him at gunpoint until police could arrive.


“The facts available at the scene on Saturday supported the charge of felony reckless conduct, but subsequent facts discovered since have led me to believe that such a charge under these circumstances would be unjust,” the Strafford County attorney said in a statement.

Apparently the local outrage was enough to prevent the State from caging Dennis.

  • Damn I hope the public wakes up as fast as possible.
    If only people knew a little history….just a little history….they might see governments attacking their own citizens and blaming it on foreigners they already planned on invading….but no. they’d rather watch football, or dancing with the stars. how sad.

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  • inm

    “The facts available at the scene on Saturday supported the charge of felony reckless conduct, but subsequent facts discovered since have led me to believe that such a charge under these circumstances would be unjust”

    The subsequent facts discovered were everybody in town thought he was an asshole.

  • The Stratford County Attorney is a pompous ass.  Any jury worth the space they take up in the courtroom would send Mr. Fleming home with an apology, and bitch-slap any prosecutor who wasted their time trying to harass an innocent man.


  • Agreed, Michael. This is bullshit. I actually live one town over from this guy and I feel society could use more people who look out for their neighbors.

    Was firing the weapon the right thing to do? I don’t know. However, I suspect that if a police officer did it, it would be considered either necessary or justified. It disgusts me that civilians are treated as a different class of citizens from law enforcement officers. If people look out for one another instead of ceding authority to statist groups who often (always?) have their own agendas, then not only would tax money be saved, but there would be more vibrant communities as people got to know one another and worked for mutual benefit.

    On a final note, I see about 3 police cars a day on Route 16 (a notorious speed trap highway which I must unfortunately use to go to work) writing tickets for speeding, but people’s houses are being burglarized. It’s a total racket. 

    • Legalspecialist

      Coppers writing speeding tickets while houses are being burglarized just a few blocks away? What a surprise…..

  • The DA should STILL be fired. He caused this man heartache, wasted resources and demonstrated a requisite lack of any intelligence for his duties as a public servant.

    • I agree.  The DA and the cops who went after him should be canned.

      • writemikemc

        some of the nastiest most corrupt unions out there are the police unions. if they are accused of wrongdoing they have umpteen administrative appeals and hearings with which to wriggle out of it, often with the help of their cronies in blue and the DA’s office.

        These days it is almost impossible to fire police or prosecutors because they have built themselves a nice little fortress to insulate themselves from the wrath of the public they parasite from, brick by legal brick.

    • Lj

      Agreed. The wrong signal was sent by treating the citizen like a criminal. The right statement would be to hold accountable not only the criminal, but the ones who help foster that behavior against the public.

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