In late January, 64-year old Clare Niederhauser was arrested for shooting at burglars fleeing from his property. At a plea deal hearing, he apologized for firing the shots, agreed to pay a $700 fine, take a weapons class, and forfeit the weapon he used.
Fellow residents of Layton, UT are coming to the aid of the elderly man, who was arrested after firing a shot at a burglar’s vehicle and a fleeing accomplice after they attempted to break in to his property with a crowbar.
He was charged with two counts of reckless endangerment because the individuals he was aiming at were off his property and had dropped the crowbar; as a result, the shots were said to have possibly endangered someone’s life.
Layton Police Lt. Shawn Horton stood by the arrest, stating, “You’re not authorized to shoot a firearm at a car just because you don’t want it to get away, or to scare them, or disable a tire.”
Niederhauser, a legal gun owner, had a concealed weapons permit for the .357 caliber handgun he used to intercept the burglars. He told detectives he aimed to shoot the tire of the fleeing car and to scare the fleeing burglar, who was later identified Robert Santos Cruz.
The 47-year-old was soon arrested for the burglary; a woman who was driving the fleeing car is still at large.
The Utah resident’s supporters are declaring his arrest unfair, stating that he is being wrongly punished for protecting his home. Many are calling this arrest an unnerving warning of a precedent that will disallow other residents from taking similar actions in self defense.
“He tried to act in a way that is responsible and compassionate and keep his head about him,” said Loran Hubbard, 53, of Layton. “We have the right to defend ourselves when we are confronted with a lethal weapon. If a big crowbar isn’t a lethal weapon, I haven’t seen one.”
As to the shots in question, neighbor Teuvo Jones stated the shot Niederhauser fired at Santos Cruz was a warning shot near a hollow. There were two burglaries in Niederhauser’s area within the three months before the incident.