Legally blind man defending his home shoots suspected burglar

Legally blind man defending his home shoots suspected burglar
Madison Danielle Vanarsdale, 21, of Lubbock (Source: Lubbock County Detention Center)

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - One person was shot after what the victim believed was an attempted break-in Wednesday night in Central Lubbock.

Police were called to the 3200 block of 35th Street around 11 p.m. The homeowner, 63-year-old Jimmy James, said he heard someone trying to kick in his door. The homeowner shot through the door and injured one person.

Police responded to a home invasion call on June 10 near the 3200 block of 35th Street.
Police responded to a home invasion call on June 10 near the 3200 block of 35th Street. (Source: Caleb Holder KCBD)

James said he’s lived in Lubbock his whole life and since moving to the duplex in September 2019, last night’s invasion wasn’t the first time someone has tired to gain entry to his home.

“I’ve had two so far," said James. "One of them (happened) the second day after I got here. Somebody tried to get in. A couple of days later somebody came in and tried to get in with a key. Then when they found out someone was here they said they had the wrong apartment.”

James is in hospice care and is legally blind. He said someone started kicking down his door last night.

“And then, all of the sudden, BLAM and I said, ‘what the hell?’ And I ran and grabbed my gun and then just WHAM they hit it again. And the door flew open and I started shooting,” said James.

James told police that if he did not grab his gun there is no telling what the intruder could have done. The report says James did not see who kicked in his door, but due to his medical disability, he was in fear of his life.

When police arrived, James said they told him, “that I did the right thing. Because I know if I hadn’t of, they meant business. If you look at that door, they meant business. If I hadn’t have shot them, I’d be dead.”

Captain Ray Mendoza with Lubbock Police Department said the castle doctrine allows residents in Texas to defend their property, especially when you are in fear for your life.

“In this case, it very well seems that that was the case. Somebody’s kicking down your door after 11 o’clock at night. You’re home alone, you feel that you need to defend yourself then in this case, it seems like it might have been a justified shooting,” said Mendoza.

James said he’s never experienced anything like this before in his life.

“I never thought this would happen to me. Always happen to somebody else,” said James. “I’ve never been so scared in my life.”

James said he spoke to his landlord who is relocating James for his own safety.

Lubbock Police released more information Thursday about what happened.

Police say 21-year-old Madison Danielle Vanarsdale was intoxicated and kicked in the door. During the investigation, officers learned Vanarsdale was with two other people at Stars and Stripes Drive In together earlier in the evening. The three left went at Varnarsdale’s apartment complex. She said she was trying to get into her apartment, but did not have her keys. She left them at the drive-in theater.

One person attempted to get Vanarsdale to leave, but she refused saying she wanted to get inside to get her dog and she had to work the next morning, so she just wanted to be home. She started to kick in the door, not realizing it was not her apartment.

That is when the victim fired two shots through the door. The person who tried to get Varnarsdale to leave was shot.

According to the report, the two others with her did not realize Vanarsdale was at the wrong apartment.

When the two tried again to get her to leave, the police report says Varnarsdale started to yell that she was being raped. They got her inside a vehicle, and she did not know one of the people with her had been shot.

Police were called out to the 3500 block of 25th street after Vanarsdale walked over there. When police arrived, they found Vanarsdale with blood shot eyes, slurred speech, and acting hysterical, according to the police report. She was placed under arrest.

The report says that Vanarsdale collapsed her body weight making it difficult for officers to carry her. After she was placed in the back of the patrol car, police say Vanarsdale started to kick the window. Police opened the door to the car and Vanarsdale resisted arrest, kicking at officers trying to restrain her legs. Vanarsdale was taken to the Lubbock County Detention Center.

The report says Vanarsdale was found in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that she placed herself and others in danger. Vanarsdale is facing charges of burglary, resisting arrest, and public intoxication.

Mendoza said the whole incident was believed to be a case of a mistaken apartment or duplex, and the person shot was a “victim of circumstance” and say the intent to burglarize the home wasn’t there.

Mendoza says the investigation is ongoing.

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