Woman Holds Suspected Arsonist At Gunpoint Until Police Arrive

Woman Holds Suspected Arsonist At Gunpoint Until Police Arrive

An Oregon woman notices a man leaving her wooded property while driving on the road adjacent to it. She exits the vehicle, pulls a gun, and orders the man to lie down on the pavement. A friend in the passenger seat records the incident. She apparently posts the video on Facebook. I watched it on Youtube.

The woman notices that the man has matches in his hand and asks him if he set anything on fire. She continues questioning him about what he’s doing on her property. The video ends before police arrive, but there is a photo of the suspect being arrested and placed in a police vehicle. The woman claims in her post that the man had multiple warrants, but it’s not known if any charges were filed against him.

There is just so much that could go wrong for this woman.

While arson can certainly be a deadly force threat, mainly if the target is an occupied building, simply carrying matches while trespassing seems a bit of a stretch to me; the woman claims the man threatened to burn her property down. Still, there was no evidence of that in the video or the report. But even if he did, a verbal threat is not an imminent deadly force threat. Catching him in the act of trying to set a fire might be.

An imminent threat is one that is happening right now. Anything short of that does not justify a deadly force response. Perhaps this incident started earlier, and this video only captures her catching up to him, but at the point she finds him, he is just stepping onto the road. He is displaying no weapon at this point.

This looks more like a citizen’s arrest than it does self-defense. I don’t know the citizen’s arrest laws for Oregon, but even if you can tick off all the requirements to perform one, they are fraught with potential legal consequences. This man didn’t resist, but what if he had, and she was then forced to shoot him? It could have gone very bad. Just don’t attempt this sort of thing. Be the best witness you can and let the police do the capture part.

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