New York Homeowner Shoots at Burglar, Ends Up Arrested
Long Island, New York – Donald Cheshire, a New York homeowner, has been charged with shooting a burglar who broke into his tool shed – twice- on May 28. The burglar sustained non-life-threatening injuries from a warning shot by Mr. Cheshire.
At about 4:11 p.m., Donald Cheshire of Riverhead, NY called police to advise that a burglar had broken into his tool shed. A police report was filed documenting the incident. Later that night, at around 10 p.m., the burglar returned and Cheshire once again called police.
This time, however, he fired a warning shot at the suspect with his shotgun. The burglar fled, and Cheshire allegedly followed him to Calverton Hills. In fact, the warning shot actually hit the suspect, causing a non-life-threatening injury.
Later, the suspect was transported to Stony Brook Hospital for treatment of his injury. At the time, police had not yet connected the two incidents.
Police arrested Donald Cheshire, the homeowner, on a 2nd degree assault charge for shooting the burglar. He was arraigned in Riverhead Justice Court. The burglar himself will be arraigned later.
New York does have a Castle Doctrine, but it’s ONLY good for the actual residence IF the homeowner is not the original aggressor. The law contains a “duty to retreat” clause for any place outside the residence.
What is duty to retreat?
“In criminal law, the duty to retreat, or requirement of safe retreat, is a legal requirement in some jurisdictions that a threatened person cannot stand one’s ground and apply lethal force in self-defense, but must instead retreat to a place of safety.”
New York’s law allows the use of lethal force only for the residence itself, not for outbuildings. It is one of the weaker self-defense laws in the nation.
One lesson here is that homeowners need to know the laws of their state, especially in areas that are notoriously anti-gun. Had the burglar broken into Mr. Cheshire’s actual house, and he fired from inside the house, he’d likely have been in the clear.