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Property Owner Fires Warning Shot Into Air After Squatter Threatens Him

Orangeburg, South Carolina — A property owner went to investigate his neighbor's reports of a squatter living on his property and ended up being threatened with a garbage can which prompted him to fire a warning shot into the air.

After several different people reached out to the property owner to say that it looked like someone appeared to be making his home on the property, the man and a friend visited to investigate for themselves.

Upon arrival at the Centre Street property, they found what looked like a small shelter erected on the man's land.

Another man appeared and allegedly said he'd kill the two friends if they moved his belongings.

He reportedly grabbed a nearby garbage can and began to walk with an aggressive demeanor towards the two friends with the can in his hands.

The property owner fired a warning shot from his revolver into the air and at some point during this ordeal, though it's unclear when, the police were called.

At some point later, police caught up with the squatter and placed him on a trespass notice for the property.

The news story ends there.

From a tactical standpoint, firing a warning shot can be dangerous for numerous reasons. First, a warning shot lessens your effective round count. Meaning that if you're a bad shot and the aggressor turns more aggressive, you're now down a round.

Even if you're an excellent shot if you're now dealing with more than one squatter or a squatter who is on a controlled substance, or a squatter with an angry dog, you have one less round to your advantage.

Making matters worse, revolvers are usually 5 or 6 shot handguns (except for this one, which is an 8-shot), already giving you limited resources for self-defense.

Also, what goes up must come back down. Firing a warning shot into the air may seem like a good idea at the time, but if it comes down on someone else's head or property it can only cause damage. The saying that you own every shot that leaves the muzzle of your weapon is true.

And, this is also true for anyone who thinks it's better to fire a warning shot into the ground. The truth of the matter is that bullets can ricochet off things and travel far at lethal speeds for a quite a while.

Be responsible and don't fire a warning shot.

On a different note, going to investigate is also rarely a good idea because it puts you in a position where you may need to defend yourself from someone with unknown circumstances. There are too many variables that you don't know like how many people are actually there, if they're armed, if they're high on meth, if there is a protective dog in the vicinity, etc.

Yes it is your property and you have the right to keep trespassers off it, but doing it the right way by letting police go investigate it for you would have been the best course of action for this property owner.

It's just the responsible thing to do and takes away any legal ramifications from you.

Leave your thoughts on this story in the comments below.

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21 Responses to Property Owner Fires Warning Shot Into Air After Squatter Threatens Him

  1. Donna June 23, 2020 at 9:00 am #

    You are responsible for every round you fire. Shooting into the air is not a ‘safe’ way to warn your threat. If you have to pull your firearm, it should be to stop a direct threat to a life. Not all situations call for you to escalate right to lethal force. You should be also carrying something less lethal like pepper spray. Only you can make that split second determination. Classes are available on proper use of pepper spray – check in your area and online.

  2. VB June 24, 2020 at 6:23 am #

    If you must fire a warning shot, fire it into the ground…..duh

    • Joshua Gillem June 24, 2020 at 8:03 am #

      Warning shots are bad, period. Bullets fired into the ground can also ricochet off hard things in the ground and travel for a long time as well hitting you or someone else in the process.

      Warning shots are bad.

      • Tim June 24, 2020 at 1:32 pm #

        If you have a lot of property that you need to protect from squatters, hunters, or night hunters, consider getting signs saying, “Due to the price of ammunition, there will be no warning shots” and put them up all around your property including your home.

  3. Rob June 24, 2020 at 11:51 am #

    Agree with the points in this article.

    One additional point to consider is if you decide to fire a warning shot (which I advise against) you are assuming that it’s going to change the other person’s decisions. What would happen if they decide to pull a gun at that point? You’ve shot 1 of your 6 rounds and your gun is pointing up in the air. Tactically speaking this a really bad situation to be in. Legally speaking an aggressive prosecutor could charge you because you weren’t in fear for your life if you had time to think about a warning shot.

    Legally armed citizens should review their thinking and their tactics in situations like this. To paraphrase Andrew Branca – every violent encounter your avoid your chance of survive is 100%. Every violent encounter you are in you have a greater than zero (0) chance severe bodily harm and legal trouble.

    • Joshua Gillem June 24, 2020 at 2:14 pm #

      Excellent points Rob, thanks for adding this.


    • bob onit June 29, 2020 at 1:42 am #

      Of course there is Winston Churchill saying ”there is nothing quite so invigorating as to be shot at,….and missed ”.on the other hand I’ve been shot at, and didn’t care for it ,if I had my druthers ,it wouldn’t be getting shot at….

  4. Jerry LeDoux June 24, 2020 at 12:04 pm #

    Don’t draw and point your gun unless you are prepared to use it. That includes the consequences that follow. He could have shot and killed the person and claimed self defense.

    I recommend every gun owner get training at their local gun range, NRA, USCCA,, etc. Also, consider insurance if you have to use your weapon. It could cost you many thousands of dollars to defend yourself.

  5. Robert Parady June 24, 2020 at 12:11 pm #

    I agree with Josh. Firing a warning shot is unnecessary and just not a good idea. Back off and call the police. Let them handle the trespasser.

  6. adolf jones June 24, 2020 at 3:01 pm #

    Call and let the police ,exterminate all trespassers (which would stop a lot of crimes).

  7. Yogi June 24, 2020 at 5:30 pm #

    The only warning shot I will EVER fire would be at the perp!

  8. jon June 25, 2020 at 6:18 pm #

    Good article, however…Joshua be VERY CLEAR that “warning shots are a TERRIBLE idea”. Firing a gun in a situation like that IS lethal force-no questions asked. This means no discount for bad marksmanship- all sorts of unnecessary charges, legal complications and possible loss of gun rights.
    1) Lawyers who specialize in rights restoration ain’t cheap and they’re going to keep the fees for billable hours, even if they can’t get your rights restored. Learn what IS and IS NOT legal (and/or prudent) from reliable sources and act accordingly.
    2) Signs posted in jest (gallows humor) will only hurt you in court-so don’t do it, laugh at them on line but never actually buy them let alone put them anywhere on a property you’re responsible for.
    Just sayin’

  9. Hydrick Gardner June 25, 2020 at 8:42 pm #

    Im in on the warning shot. At least , the warning shot preferred over shooting the squatter. I never have understood the shoot to kill. Unless of course the perp is in your house or has a gun pulled. If you are suppose to be a certified gun owner/carrier or law inforcer you should be able to think quick enough and shoot accurately enough in a critical situation to hit other than a kill zone. Leg, arm, etc. I doubt many will agree with me. But, a person that doesnt have the prescence of mind to aim, im not sure he even knows what or who he is shooting at.

    • Roy June 28, 2020 at 5:43 pm #

      You don’t shoot to kill, you shoot to stop, period. As has been mentioned briefly here. A private citizen can only legally pull their firearm and discharge it if they are in fear for their life. If anyone thinks that a person has the time to accurately aim for a leg etc then first, you have never been in a lethal encounter which moves faster than one can imagine and if your life isn’t threatened imminently then don’t pull the firearm. And to hit a moving target is hard and small targets like legs and arms, this is just a liberal pipe dream. Plus you are responsible for every round that leaves your firearm and a miss has to stop somewhere. Second, if you do not have the fortitude to address someone who is trying to harm you with death or serious bodily harm with lethal force then don’t carry a firearm period. Mindset is critical.

  10. frankjbonazza3 June 27, 2020 at 7:31 am #

    You can shoot for the legs and arms if you want. If I have to use my pistol, I am aiming center mass unless body armor is involved. Shooting to injure is also a terrible idea that rarely, if ever works. It’s as bad or worse an idea than a warning shot. Legs and arms are slim targets and when you miss, those rounds are traveling until something else stops them…

  11. jerry t June 28, 2020 at 5:49 pm #

    Training @ Front Sight in Nevada is highly recommended. It is intense (like a deadly force situation will be) amd thorough.

  12. Who Cares. June 28, 2020 at 5:54 pm #

    In Cal/Mexico.lf you fire a warning shot. You can go to jail.
    Just Call 5-0. But it may are may not take them some time to get to you.

  13. Joan Hill June 28, 2020 at 5:57 pm #

    Good advice. Thanx.

  14. Fred June 28, 2020 at 10:43 pm #

    Warning shots illegal in some states. If he’s trashing your place, just watch and call 911, it’s illegal to shoot someone over property except maybe in TX. In most places it will look bad for you, if not be illegal. Also, if you intentionally provoke him to violence so you then feel threatened and use deadly force, you will probably be found guilty of some type of murder.

  15. Yogi June 29, 2020 at 4:16 pm #

    Agree with most of the article. In California, AKA the DPRC, firing (or even displaying a fire arm) for any other reason than you face imminent threat of great bodily harm (including death) with get you lots of legal trouble.. For me a warning shot will be aimed at center mass of the threat.

  16. Douglas L Self July 4, 2020 at 8:24 am #

    Agree in general about refraining from warning shots, regardless of direction, and reliance on summoning law enforcement rather than taking matters into one’s hand to deal with squatters and/or trespassers. However, these types of property crimes tend to be very LOW on the priority list of most law enforcement agencies, so likely you will have to investigate for yourself to see if at least there is someone trespassing on your property. Of course, a complaint that you confronted the individual(s) and not only did they refuse to leave but made threats WILL bring the cops out, usually damned quick. Life isn’t perfect…just don’t try to make it all about playing “hero”, the idea is to rid yourself of a nuisance, not look for an excuse to become a newsworthy item.

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