After a Texas gun owner fatally shot a burglar, he went back to bed before calling the police. Following the incident, the 72-year-old man was arrested and held at the county jail on a $150,000 bond.
James Michael Meyer, a 72-year-old Dallas man, was charged with murder after he fatally shot a burglar outside his home and told authorities that he went back to bed before calling 911. According to the Dallas Morning News, Meyer was held at the Dallas County Jail on a $150,000 bond following his arrest over the incident that took place on the 5400 block of Philip Avenue in Old East Dallas.
Meyer was reportedly asleep in his home when he was awakened around 5 am on a Thursday morning by unexpected noises outside. He said he looked out a window and saw a man trying to break into his storage shed with a pickaxe, according to police documents. After hearing the disturbance and seeing someone who appeared to be burglarizing his shed, Meyer armed himself with a handgun and went outside.
Meyer allegedly chambered a round before heading outside, where he shouted at the man, yelling for him to stop what he was doing and warning him not to get any closer or he would shoot, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. The burglar allegedly didn’t listen, and Meyer fired off a shot after the intruder took several steps toward him with the pickaxe.
The single shot caused the man to drop his pickaxe and flee. As he ran off in the direction of a nearby park, Meyer told police he fired another again, this time shooting “into the night.” Although Meyer had shot at the man, he said he was unsure whether he had stuck him. Instead of finding out, Meyer told authorities he went back to bed.
Hours later, as the sun began to rise, Meyer said he looked outside and saw “a black bag” in the park. Upon closer inspection, he realized the “bag” was an individual lying face down on the ground. Two hours after the shooting, at 7:04 am, police were dispatched to Meyer’s residence in response to a home invasion call to 911. Officers located the suspect’s body face down in a park behind Meyer’s home.
Dallas Fire-Rescue workers noted that the blood on the body was dry and determined that the suspect had been deceased for a while. Meyer was arrested and charged with murder with the police affidavit noting that by Meyer’s account, “the threat of serious bodily injury against him was over when the complainant dropped the pickaxe and ran off.” The affidavit also stated that Meyer’s wife called an attorney before her husband called the police to report the incident.
The affidavit also revealed that Meyer refused to answer the dispatcher’s questions, saying he was in need of medical attention and that he’d been the victim of a crime. When investigators couldn’t find any spent shell casings, Meyer told them he had thrown them in the trash. In addition, neighbors’ statements to investigators, which said they’d heard three gunshots about 5:15 am, contradicted Meyer’s account of the number of shots he said he’d fired.
Another report from CBS DFW, however, said that neighbors were defending James Michael Meyer, saying they understand and he was just trying to protect his property. People who know the 72-year-old told the outlet they think his actions were self-defense. Meyer’s neighbors also said burglaries are commonplace in the area.
“He’s not a violent man. I’ve never heard of him ever being violent, even in provoking circumstances,” explained Calvin Holbrook, who had nothing but good things to say about Meyer. Others, like Alondra Flores, were just as confused by the situation. “I think it is crazy because I never thought he would do that. But, it is kind of understandable,” she said.
Texas has become a hotbed in the debate over firearms and gun violence since it is known for having loose restrictions on gun ownership. What should not be debatable, however, is that gun ownership comes with immense responsibility, especially if you have to fire your weapon. Whether you think James Michael Meyer is guilty or believe he acted in self-defense, there is a lesson to be learned from his situation: Once a threat is neutralized, stop shooting, and always cooperate with police, including reporting the incident immediately.