Tramel Day and a friend knocked on the door of a St. Louis County home this morning. Minutes later, little Tramel was dead; killed for what is seen by some as a trivial reason to take the life of a child.
His shooter, 32, tells police that he saw Tramel and his friend at the front door of his home and, not recognizing the child or his friend, went to get his firearm.
On gaining his gun, the homeowner discovered that the two unexpected visitors were no longer on his front porch. Sadly, he found this out by means of little Tramel and his friend kicking down the homeowner’s back-door brandishing their own guns.
Both parties opened fire. It is not known who shot first, nor is it relevant, but the end result is that 19 year-old Tramel Day died committing a violent armed home invasion.
As it stands, Mr. Day was shot and killed during the break-in, his accomplice is still armed and at-large, and the homeowner is unharmed and cooperating with the investigation. The police have confiscated the deceased assailant’s weapon as well as the homeowner’s.
The only thing that we can see that the homeowner could have done better is right at the beginning of the situation.
Break-ins are now more common during the day than the evening. The reasoning behind it is pretty simple: most people are at work during the day and house is empty. Therefore burglars seeking to avoid contact with an increasingly-armed population of law-abiding people are gravitating towards the daytime hours.
The standard approach is to walk up to the target house and knock. When they receive no answer, they kick the door in or seek a less-observed entry on the side or back of the house.
Our Good Guy With A Gun, in not answering the door, may have given the attackers the impression that nobody was home. So when they kicked in the back door, he was forced to Be His Own First Responder.
This is not usually a good idea. As most of these events are intended by the criminals to be non-violent assaults on an empty building to steal valuables, then the correct response is to go to the door and let them know that someone is indeed home.
We recommend going to the door armed, not opening it, and simply letting them know that you are indeed home.
While killing Mr. Day was lawful and reasonable under the circumstances and will certainly prevent Mr. Day from committing further crimes, it is the last thing that should have happened. While the homeowner was under no legal obligation to warn the attackers that he was in the house, it is better in the long run to do what one can to avoid having to take a life.