Both Catoosa and Walker County have been swirled around in the media with two shootings by two gentlemen in separate incidents who were standing their ground this past month. The first was in Catoosa County where a 17 year-old teenager was shot by a homeowner during an attempted burglary on Veteran’s Day:
The shooting occurred around 4 p.m., when 69-year-old Fred Youngblood, who lives on Post Oak Road, woke up to the noise of McConathy and his 16-year-old buddy Craig Wilson making their way into his basement, while McConathy’s 18-year-old girlfriend Ansley Chrnalogar was waiting in the get-away truck.
Shortly thereafter, Youngblood grabbed his pistol and confronted the boys.
As the boys took off running, Youngblood fired, striking McConathy in the neck, reports show.
McConathy collapsed into the bed of the truck as Chrnalogar drove away, but was stopped by Catoosa County sheriff’s deputies moments later on Boynton Drive.
To date, there have been no charges filed against Youngblood, and the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office still has the case classified as “under investigation.”
The other was last week in Walker County where an elderly man with Alzheimer’s was shot by the renter when he thought the man was trying to break in to his house:
That porch light at 188 College Crest Court possibly attracted Westbrook to what ended up as a fatal encounter about 2½ miles from his own home.
A couple who had moved into the house on College Crest Court only a couple of weeks ago heard Westbrook trying to enter their home and called 911 at 3:54 a.m., the sheriff said.
The woman of the house stayed on the line, listening to instructions from the dispatcher as to what to watch for while two patrol cars were en route to the small subdivision just west of Chickamauga.
About 10 minutes later, and before the first officer arrived, the man of the house, Joe Hendrix, 34, armed himself with a handgun and stepped outside to check the property.
Hendrix turned a corner and saw Westbrook in silhouette, the sheriff said.
Despite repeated commands to stop, Hendrix said the prowler — Westbrook — said nothing but kept coming toward him.
The sheriff said Westbrook’s wife told deputies that her husband had recently become non-verbal due to the progression of his illness.
Fearing for his safety, Hendrix fired four bullets from a .40-caliber pistol. One bullet struck Westbrook in the chest.
It was at this point that Hendrix went into the house, and while his girlfriend was still on the telephone with the 911 operator, said he had shot and possibly killed someone.
Both of these incidents are sad. I’m sure that both gentlemen are remorseful towards what transpired, but should they be charged?
I don’t know. My understanding of the “Stand Your Ground” law is that you can use deadly force if you believe that your life is in danger, so it’s possible that those men won’t be charged because they felt threatened at the time. I don’t know what sort of circumstances there were or what I would do in their shoes. I’m just not going to assume I would have reacted differently. However, I would have hoped that I would not have shot in either case since, in the first, the boys ran off, and, in the second, the elderly man was outside roaming around and didn’t enter the home.
I’m sure anti-gun advocates will point to the second case as a reason to nix Stand Your Ground in our state and other states, but I don’t believe it needs to be. I believe in protecting my loved ones and my property. However, I do believe that there needs to be common sense applied here. It would’ve been better had Mr. Hendrix stayed inside (I’m not sure if the 911 operator instructed them to remain inside or not) and not venture out to investigate on his own. I know, hindsight is 20/20. So, what say you? Stand Your Ground will probably garner some attention during the next legislative session. Discuss in the comments about your views of Stand Your Ground laws and if the state legislature make tweaks to the law….or not.
Disclosure: I knew the elderly victim. I went to church and played in the church orchestra with him about 10 years ago. He was a talented trumpet player. He was also a Colonel in the US Air Force, gave flight lessons, and was a genuinely nice guy.
Update: Mr. Hendrix in the second story is a renter of the home in Walker County and not the actual owner of the home.