Home Invasion Suspects Chose “Wrong Home,” Encounter Veteran

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One evening, a Navy veteran noticed prowlers, armed with firearms, on his surveillance camera. Knowing he had “to act,” he grabbed his rifle, thinking only of protecting his loved ones. The next thing he knows, gunfire is whizzing past him. That’s when he got a bigger rifle — and it was all caught on video.

Whitfield Smith
Navy veteran Whitfield Smith standing next to his gun-ridden BMW (Credit: YouTube)

Navy veteran Whitfield Smith was relaxing inside his Georgia home, wearing flip-flops, pajama pants, and no shirt one balmy night when all of a sudden he noticed disturbing images on his home surveillance camera. Any strange activity was out of the norm for his quiet suburban neighborhood, but what he saw was a homeowner’s worst nightmare.

“As I keep looking at the ring camera I noticed a young man running from the neighbor’s yard across my yard and into the street to meet up with two other gentlemen,” Smith told Fox5 News. “He sprints up my driveway. I can see from the camera he’s hunched down wearing a gray hoodie, and he has a firearm in his hand. He tries to get into the BMW in the driveway. The doors locked,” Smith recalled. “I grab my rifle and I head outside.”

Armed prowler outside the home of Whitfield Smith (Credit: YouTube)

According to reports, that’s when one of the alleged prowlers made a near-fatal decision as this veteran went to war to protect his wife who was hiding inside the home. “There was one gentleman on the other side of the trees and the main one was right here using my truck as a shield,” Smith said. As gunfire erupted, the Navy veteran kicked off his flip-flop, raced inside, put on other clothes, and came back out armed with a “bigger rifle.”

Surveillance video shows Smith approaching his driveway as he fires a “warning” shot, and that’s when he says “all hell broke loose.” In the video, you can see bullets whizzing past him. The Afghanistan war veteran says he didn’t have time to be afraid and only had time to act. “This was coordinated. They were working together as a team to get this done,” he explained.

Whitfield Smith
After changing into a t-shirt and sneakers, Whitfield Smith says he also brought a “bigger rifle” to confront the suspects. (Credit: YouTube)

According to Fox5 News, this father feared he would have been dead if it wasn’t for his BMW to shield the nearly two dozen bullets. “I don’t want to die at home. I survived Afghanistan and everywhere else. To die at home? In my own yard,” Smith said. As the Navy veteran continued to engage the suspects, he had to rely on his ears as he couldn’t see them. “I could hear them trying to get away,” he told Inside Edition. “They’re jumping over fences.”

Smith later relayed what the police officers told him at the scene: “Mr. Smith, you’re very brave, you’re very brave,” he recalled. “But you’re very brave and very crazy, and very stupid…but yeah, very brave,” he added, laughing. Daylight revealed the damage to Smith’s vehicles. It was reported that the only thing the suspects got away with was a laptop Smith says they took out of his car.

Whitefield Smith isn’t the only Afghanistan veteran who has been victimized by home invaders. Michelle Zavala, a 13-year Army veteran, was soundly sleeping in her apartment when she awoke to an active home invasion. “I was just in disbelief. Around 11 o’clock I woke up to at least two individuals in my apartment, with one in my bedroom,” Zavala told Kens5 News.

The Army veteran says surveillance video taken from her Ring camera shows the moments the thieves walked inside of her apartment. According to reports, video from inside of the apartment shows when her pet chinchilla, who she says usually barks, ran to hide and left her behind. “I ended up yelling and trying to throw things at them. They ended up leaving my apartment,” Zavala said.

The suspects grabbed Zavala’s car key fob, items from her military service, and sentimental belongings, including a watch given to her by her grandfather who passed away from cancer in 2004. “I’ve had it with me for 17 years. I’ve taken it with me on deployments to Afghanistan. I’ve taken it with me to other celebrations so it can feel like he’s there with me,” Zavala said.

Luckily, for this veteran, she did not have to engage in a gun battle. However, she was hellbent on finding the perpetrators and got some help. Zavala uploaded the Ring videos to the Nextdoor app, and her fellow armchair detectives took on the case. “Our apartment management was able to collect a bunch of photos from people’s cameras to get some pretty good images,” she said. “I’m very hopeful these guys will get caught and if they are it’s going to be from the collective effort from my neighbors.”