NJ man shoots at burglar who broke into his home — is that legal?
A Roseland homeowner who fired at a burglar who broke into his home early Monday morning has not been charged with a crime. And he has the support of the mayor.
Mayor James Spango said that an intruder, who was looking for a set of car keys, got into the house on Lasalle Court and made it as far as the mudroom before the confrontation with the homeowner.
The neighborhood is attractive to would-be car thieves as it is close to Route 280, officials say.
"The intruder was met by the homeowner. The homeowner fired one round from a handgun. We believe that he missed the suspect but we cannot confirm that because we have not found the round yet," Spango told reporters.
The intruder scrambled out the window and left the property, according to the mayor. The homeowner's home security video captured two suspects getting into a car and speeding off.
Is defending your home legal?
Spango said the homeowner's gun was legally owned and he will not be charged.
"I believe the homeowner protecting himself and his family is the proper choice to make in any situation," Spango said.
Former Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato said that based upon media coverage of the Roseland incident, the homeowner was within his rights to fire at the intruder and wouldn't be charged.
"I think that a prosecutor probably would make that decision that the person is standing their grounds. Your home is your castle; you have a right to defend it, especially if the gun is legal and it's in your house and there's an intruder in there. I think he has every right to exercise control," Coronato said.
What if the intruder had been injured or killed by the shot fired by the homeowner?
"If there's a guy that comes into your house, you have a gun, you're in fear, you don't know who he is, you can take them out. If the guy gets killed, the guy gets injured. I still think you're OK," Coronato said.
The former prosecutor said that home security video available in most homes has changed the way some incidents play out.
"I remember one or two cases that we had that came in that all of a sudden we were able to download video of what happened inside the house. That becomes more pertinent now with domestic violence because everybody has Alexa. You've got cameras inside your house all over the place."
No matter the scenario, Coronato said the decision about charges rests with law enforcement and not the mayor.
"That's not within the mayor's purview to make a decision whether somebody's going to be charged or not. The person where it comes from is the police, but that should be with the guidance of the county prosecutor," Coronato said.
NJ Transit driver suspended after firing at teens
Self-defense claims are no guarantee.
NJ Transit bus driver Charles Fieros, 48, was suspended in December after firing at a group of teens that brutally beat him outside his bus in Jersey City. Police later discovered the gun had been reported stolen.