Ethics Lesson: Two Teens Shot and Killed in Botched Break In…

Two teenagers were shot and killed over Thanksgiving in a Central Minnesota town after an attempted break in and theft. The teens broke a window upstairs and Mr. Smith (the homeowner), heard footsteps coming toward the stairs. Apparently, when he saw the teens legs, he opened fire. Here is the account that follows:

“After the teen fell down the stairs, Smith said he shot him in the face as he lay on the floor.

‘I want him dead,’ the complaint quoted Smith telling an investigator.

Smith said he dragged Brady’s body into his basement workshop, then sat down on his chair. After a few minutes, Kifer began coming down the stairs and he shot her as soon as her hips appeared, he said.

After shooting her with both the Mini 14 and the .22-caliber revolver, he dragged her next to Brady. With her still gasping for air, he fired a shot under her chin ‘up into the cranium,’ the complaint says.”

Let’s look at this from an outside point of view. I’m obviously a gun rights enthusiast and I believe in protecting your home from invaders and criminals. But when is it going too far? It seems to me that this man was out for blood. When you take a firearm on yourself, I think that you also take a huge responsibility on yourself, and I think you more or less make a pact with yourself that you hope to God you never have to use that firearm on another person, but if it the time comes that you need to, you will do what it takes to protect yourself and your family.

Something you learn in gun safety and the concealed carry courses is that if there is an avenue you can take to leave the situation, it’s the best thing you can do. In other words, you need leave. If leaving is not an option (which if it is your home, you have a right to protect that), you can exercise force. If you have to exercise force, you are taught to fire until the “threat is stopped”.

When is the threat stopped? That is different in every situation I think, but I think shooting a kid with a Mini 14, having him fall down the stairs, and then executing him (shooting him in the face) goes well beyond “when the threat is stopped”. I also think the same about the girl.

According to police reports, he shot the girl once with the Mini 14 and his gun jammed. At this point the girl laughed at him. According to the police he got a little angry about that and shot her several times in the chest and dragged her body in to another room. After noticing she was gasping for air, he shot her under the chip and up through her head. Sheriff Michel Wetzel said during a press conference this afternoon, that Smith told officers he shot Kifer again to “put her out of her misery.”

Obviously these teens could have avoided the situation altogether by not breaking and entering, but they didn’t – but I really think this is a battle about ethics. The most appalling part of this is that he didn’t phone police immediately. Mr. Smith admitted he did not attempt to call law enforcement, but asked his neighbor to do so after the neighbor was unable to assist in finding a lawyer.

In any event, I think that this man should be prosecuted, and I think that not because he defended himself, but rather that he took defending himself way too far against these two kids. They shouldn’t have been there in the first place, but they made that choice – the choices that came after that are all on this guy. Thoughts?

1 Comment

  1. Mark

    December 10, 2012 at 9:40 am

    B. you are correct. Every class, every article Ive ever read, every one that espouses self defense and the use of deadly force say the same thing. Shoot until the threat is stopped. If the BG dies in the process, (i hate to say oh well) but its a possibility. But as a defender your duty to God and society is to just stop the threat. Then call the authorities

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