A man driving by his daughter’s house on Adams Avenue early Wednesday noticed a window air-conditioning unit had been knocked out and was lying on the ground.
Armed with a .357-caliber handgun, he used a back door key. Once inside, he heard some movement in the house and when he walked into the kitchen was confronted by the burglar, who “appeared to have something in his hands,” according to a warrant.
Fearing for his life, he fired several rounds at the burglar, whom police later identified as Bem Sampson, the warrant says. The 19-year-old was struck once in the arm. The wounded man climbed out a window, ran across Adams Avenue and up North 28th Street before stopping in a parking lot behind a white house in the 2700 block of Monroe Avenue, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a Baton Rouge police spokesman.
The father told police the home had been burglarized before and he was concerned, McKneely said. The father, who was not identified, said he decided to stop and check on the house because his daughter was out of town.
When the shooting started, it rattled neighbors who said the neighborhood has been all too often a target for burglars.
“I thought somebody was shooting our house,” said Tyiesha Roseburr , 17, who lives next door on Adams Street. “That’s how close it was.”
She said the shots and shouts next door woke her, but she did not venture outside to see what happened until she saw the police lights.
A caller told police that a man who had been shot was in the Monroe Avenue parking lot, which is where police said they found Sampson, McKneely said.
He was taken to Baton Rouge General Medical Center Mid City where he was treated for his injuries and released Wednesday. He was taken to Parish Prison where he was booked on one count of simple burglary.
The father has not been arrested, McKneely said, but the investigation is continuing.
However, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said the “castle doctrine,” a legal principle that gives people the right to legally protect their property from intruders, using force if necessary, would apply in this case even though the father was not in his own home, but his daughter’s home.
“It doesn’t have to be his home,” Moore said. “He has a right to protect himself, his home and his daughter.”
When police talked to Sampson at the hospital, he admitted he broke into the house to steal property, according to the warrant.
Police are unsure if Sampson had a weapon.
However, a toy gun was found in the hallway where the confrontation between the father and Sampson occurred, the warrant says.
Neighbors said Wednesday they are tired of the thefts in their neighborhood.
One neighbor even praised the father for shooting the burglar.
“It’s just time somebody took a stand,” said Will Simmons, 42.
His mother has lived across the street from 2736 Adams Ave. for 20 years and has had her home broken into three times since 2011. Simmons pointed to a house across the intersection from his mother’s home, saying that house had also been broken into.
Simmons said he recently installed a home security system and his mother has had no problems since then. Before the security system was installed, burglars stole televisions and computers from the house during the three separate break-ins.
“It is scary, especially when you feel your family is in jeopardy,” Simmons said.