No charges are anticipated

In July 2000, then-Review-Journal police reporter Glenn Puit wrote about a 60-year-old resident of South Tenaya Way being awakened by his barking dogs at 5:15 in the morning. The man retrieved a handgun and went downstairs to investigate. When he opened the door to his den he was confronted by an armed intruder. Both men immediately opened fire.

“They were standing maybe 6 to 8 feet apart,” said Las Vegas police Lt. Wayne Petersen. “The suspect fired three shots, the victim eight.”

The intruder died at the scene. The homeowner appeared justified in killing the intruder, said Ronald C. Bloxham, Clark County chief deputy district attorney.

In the previous three years, at least eight robbery or burglary suspects had been shot or stabbed after they broke into valley businesses and homes, Mr. Puit reported. In all but one of those shootings the home or business owners were ruled justified by authorities.

“It does seem like (now) you do see a lot of situations like this,” said Mr. Bloxham. “I think the public is starting to protect themselves more and more.”

The trend continues. On Feb. 2, Hungarian illegal immigrant Tamas Horvath, 40, who police had identified as a fleeing bank robber, fired a gunshot into the sliding glass door of a house on Tioga Way, ran through the house and exited the front door. He then entered the backyard of a house in the 2600 block of South Buffalo Drive, attempting to enter through an open window.

Homeowner Mark Schwendener was not pleased. He fired at Horvath. Police said it was unclear whether any of Mr. Schwendener’s shots struck Horvath, who was shot by police officer James Larosa, 29, before being taken into custody and hospitalized.

Two days later, on Feb. 4, a 71-year-old retired physician whose home near West Sahara Avenue and South Jones Boulevard had already been burglarized the previous week, retreated to his bedroom and retrieved a handgun when confronted by a group of home invaders. As the suspects entered his bedroom the victim fired at least one round, causing the suspects to flee. One suspect was captured, one escaped, and a third was found dead in the backyard, where police also recovered a handgun. Charges against the homeowner are not anticipated.

Guns continue to be used by criminals all too often. Certainly we’d be happy to report a decline in the level of lead flying. But law-abiding Las Vegans, clearly, decline to play the part of helpless victims. You’d think the local criminal class would get the message: In these parts, robbery, burglary and home invasion are not likely to prove long or profitable careers.

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