Step Father Shoots Daughter, Thinking She’s an Intruder

In a classic example of what not to do, an Alabama step dad shot his daughter after she attempted to get into the house at 2:15 in the morning, this past week.

It is being reported that the dad thought she was an intruder when he heard the garage door opening, and grabbed his gun to go investigate.

The man at some point saw the 15 year old girl, and “accidentally” shot her in the stomach area.

The teenager was transported to the hospital and the incident is being investigated.

That's what not to do, now here is what should have been done: 

This is a sad scenario for all involved and it's never my goal to sound insensitive. We can all learn something from stories like these

This is a tricky situation for all parties involved and why we try to exercise caution to people when they say they want to go investigate the bump in the night.

There are a lot of things we don't know about this situation, like did the girl sneak out? Did the dad have a flashlight? Was he walking around the house with his finger on the trigger?

All of these are important things to note, but there are still things we can talk about in the mid-term to help make sure this sort of thing does not happen to you.

First and foremost, always use caution when going to investigate any noises you hear in the middle of the night. If you are groggy, just woke up, and don't know what you're walking into–you have no idea how things are going to work out.

I recommend our Bump in the Night Course, or getting all the information in the entire course called Complete Home Defense. These things will help change the way you look at home defense.


It is generally a bad idea to shoot at a target you cannot see, which is one of the reasons why we should all have flashlights for use in the middle of the night. You just never know who may be trying to get in. Could it be a family member who didn't want to wake you in the middle of the night?

It's imperative that you can actually see your threat so you know what your target is, as well as what is around and behind it.

I'm not saying you should walk around with your flashlight lit because that can be a tactical disaster. Just that, you should have a light so you can see your target, which will also help you ID your target if you don't follow the next recommendation.

Call for ID

One of the most important things you can be doing is asking for a suspected intruder to identify themselves. We've covered this topic before more in depth so I won't spend too much time on it.

But the main point is that if the step dad had called out with a command, “identify yourself, I'm armed!” he would have prevented this situation from happening, when the daughter says, “it's me dad!”

Here is a story where our company president had a similar incident happen, where he had identified himself to his brother in the middle of the night after an unannounced visit.

I get goose bumps whenever I read that story because it could have been very bad.

Finger on trigger

Once again we don't have all the details of the story and cannot say either way if his finger was in fact on the trigger. But something we do know for certain is that walking around your house with your finger on the trigger can be disastrous for anyone under the muzzle.

The only time you should have your finger on the trigger is if you're on target.

Part of the reason why this is true is because when you're under stress with the thought that your privacy is in the process of being violated by an intruder, you lose some control over motor functions. That means if you see what you think is an intruder you flinch just enough that you fire a shot off.

However, if you keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you're on target, you won't be able to pull it on “accident.”


Sadly these instances happen more often than they should, but they are totally avoidable with just a small amount of prior thought and knowledge.

For example, my kids and their friends all know that I'm a gun owner and that if an intruder ever comes in when I'm not expecting it it might end badly.

This is one of the reasons why I leave my doors squeaky. A lot of folks will oil the hinges so they're silent. But I like having the warning system that someone has entered my house. When I hear the squeak of a door, I yell, “who is there?” My children know to ID themselves with their name, as does my wife.

This takes any of the guesswork out of the identification process and is safer for all involved.

This prevention can go a long way in regards to protecting life.

Do you take similar measures to make sure your home and family are safe?

About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.


  1. Bill DeMedicis on November 4, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    What is a 15 year old doing up at that time in the morning and how could he not know she was not in the house?

  2. Adam Gabriel Fernandez Rodriguez on November 4, 2020 at 11:58 pm

    It’s quite sad and I think an “early warning system” would’ve helped here. Another question to your other questions would be, why didn’t she just enter normally through the front door? Maybe security cams with monitors might help. At least he’d know ahead of time. I agree with the other suggestions.

  3. Steve Givens on November 5, 2020 at 7:42 am

    Any other comments notwithstanding, any defense of this shooter is pure BS. All guidance about discharging one’s weapon flows from a single absolute rule: IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET. No excuses. It is also one of the least discussed. Let’s stop taking the responsibility for discharging one’s weapon off the shooter shall we? No matter how bad this shooter feels about the incident, the responsibility is his.

    • M A Monte on November 8, 2020 at 9:57 pm

      Very true and well put don’t know if he’s military or not but one was always advance and be recognized the if not it’s hostile.

  4. frankjbonazza3 on November 6, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    This is why I have multiple flashlight options for scenarios like this. I have a 400 Lumien handheld flashlight, I have a 400 Lumien weapon mounted light on my Canik TP9SFX, and I have a 600 Lumien weapon mounted light on my AR pistol. Any time I get out of bed to investigate a noise because my dogs are barking or whatever, I always have a decent light to see what’s going on. A decent light isn’t too expensive (I got my weapon mounted for my Canik for $60) and it is worth every penny. It’s really no different than owning a good quality holster for your pistol. I also agree that it is the shooter’s responsibility. It can be argued that the kid shouldn’t have been up or out at that time but it doesn’t change the fact that he should have been able to clearly see the “intruder”. In this case I believe training, or lack thereof played a significant part also. Finger off the trigger until you are certain that it is a threat. I had a situation where my son forgot his key, and came home well after his curfew, and I heard him come through the window and was there with my pistol at the ready. I purposely shined the light on him as he was coming through head first so I could identify the person as family, or burglar/ intruder. Let’s just say he was quite shocked when he looked up and saw a pistol pointed at his head, and he wasn’t late for quite some time either.

  5. Steven on November 9, 2020 at 6:20 am

    All he had to say is Who’s there! Duh not sneak and shoot he had his firearm he was covered and yea it’s manslaughter sorry brother!?

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