Three Oklahoma teens were killed after breaking into a house and being greeted by the homeowner’s son and an AR-15. After their untimely demise, one suspect’s grandfather spoke out about the circumstances surrounding his grandson’s death.
Leroy Schumacher, the grandfather of a slain Oklahoma burglar, decided to speak out after his 17-year-old grandson’s death. Jacob Redfearn, who had previously been in foster care, was one of three Oklahoma teens killed when they broke into a house and came face to face with the homeowner’s son, who was armed with an AR-15. And, Leroy had a pretty strong opinion about what went down that day.
According to Leroy Schumacher, even though his grandson was in the middle of a burglary when he was killed, his death was unjustified, Tulsa’s ABC 8 reported. The grieving grandfather acknowledged that breaking into a house was “stupid,” but he said that the AR-15 gave the homeowner’s son an “unfair” advantage over the three burglars and that death wasn’t the appropriate consequence for the teens.
The burglary details:
It all began with 21-year-old Elizabeth Rodriguez, who authorities believe was the ring leader. Rodriguez, a mother-of-three in need of rent money, drove 19-year-old Maxwell Cook, 16-year-old Jake Woodruff, and 17-year-old Jacob Redfearn — who she says all lived with her — to the Wagoner County home. They first stole liquor, speakers, and a machete from the garage, but then, Rodriguez said they “got greedy.”
After deciding to break into the main house, the young men, wearing all black, donning masks, and armed with brass knuckles and a knife, went inside while Rodriguez waited with a teenage girl in the getaway car. Zachary Peters, the homeowner’s 23-year-old son, was taking a nap when he heard a door slam and glass shatter at approximately 12:30 in the afternoon, according to News On 6. Peters grabbed his father’s rifle before coming face to face with the three suspects, who all froze when they saw him.
Fearing for his life against the masked intruders and worried they had a weapon, Peters opened fire. When asked if the suspects tried to hurt him, he admitted that he never gave them the chance. He shot the suspect closest to him first and didn’t stop until the last suspect managed to run out of the house. That’s when Peters said he retreated to his bedroom, locked himself inside, and called 911.
During the 911 call, Peters pleaded for medical help for the suspects, but it was too late. When Wagoner County Sheriffs’ deputies arrived, Peters dropped his gun and followed their orders. All three suspects died at the scene, even though Rodriguez later admitted that one suspect made it to the getaway car, slid across the hood, saying, “I got hit.” Rodriguez, who was not injured, fled.
The arrest and charges filed:
Rodriguez later went to the police, admitted her involvement, and told investigators that she had planned the whole thing. She was arrested and charged with first- and second-degree burglary, as well as three counts of first-degree murder since Oklahoma state law says someone can be charged with murder if another person takes the life of a human being during their commission of a felony, CNN reported.
For her part, Rodriguez can face life in prison or even the death penalty, but it’s the homeowner’s son and the AR-15 that Leroy Schumacher seemingly blames for his grandson’s death. “What these three boys did was stupid,” Schumacher admitted. “They knew they could be punished for it, but they did not deserve to die,” he continued. “Brass knuckles against an AR-15? C’mon. Who was afraid for their life?”
Authorities didn’t agree with Schumacher’s sentiments, however, and Zach Peters was not charged with any crimes because police say he acted in self-defense. Schumacher was not convinced that the shooting was justified, though, and reiterated his belief that the consequences didn’t fit the crime. “There’s got to be a limit to that law, I mean he shot all three of them — there was no need for that,” he said.
Although Schumacher said he supports the Second Amendment right to bear arms, he doesn’t agree with killing home invaders. “These boys’ families are going to suffer with this the rest of their lives. We have to live with this the rest of our lives,” he said. “You can’t change history, but you can damn sure learn from it, and maybe some kids will learn from this.”
That’s the one thing we should all agree on: Others should learn from this, especially teens who may cave to peer pressure. The law isn’t on your side if you decide to commit a crime — regardless of your age. In most cases, criminals are not afforded the benefit of the doubt when they break into someone’s home. Instead, the homeowner has the right to stand their ground in many states.
States with “stand your ground” or “castle doctrine” laws give the intended victim the right to use reasonable force, including deadly force, to protect themselves with no obligation to retreat from an intruder or attacker. Obviously, the decision to do so isn’t without consequences. While the families of the teens have to live with their deaths, so does the person who took their life. That can’t be easy, even if it’s justified.