Officer shoots alleged burglars breaking into his home, killing 1

June 10, 2011 9:14:46 AM PDT
An off-duty police officer defended his own property by opening fire on suspected burglars after he caught them in his house. Two of those wannabe thieves went to the hospital, where one later died. The officer was getting ready for work at his home off President's near Brockwood in southeast Houston. That's when he heard banging on the door and glass breaking.

Lt. Donald Hamilton told investigators he didn't go to the door at first because he thought that the person knocking was a solicitor. But by all accounts now, he wasn't and little did he know there was a veteran police officer on the other side.

Crime scene investigators took pictures as Hamilton was questioned about why he felt forced to grab his gun and shoot Thursday evening. He has the neighbors' support even though they tended to one of the wounded suspects.

"I think he was right, you know. The guys were wrong," neighbor Frank Benjamin said.

According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, Hamilton was inside his home getting ready for work when he heard a knock at the front door. He didn't answer, only watched. Soon there was a knock at the back door, the sound of shattering glass and at least two young men inside. That's when he fired, striking both.

"After he shot him, he put him in handcuffs so he wouldn't run," Benjamin said.

The more seriously injured man was taken to the hospital, where he later died. Another went to the hospital on his own and a third was captured nearby. Hamilton took authorities through the sequence of events. It seems clear cut to Sgt. Gregory Pinkins.

"He's in his home and individuals break into his home. He has the right to defend himself inside his residence," Sgt. Pinkins said.

The whole thing leaves neighbors marveling at the irony.

"Look at how many houses there are on this street. The only house you're going to break into while the sun is shining is a police officer's house?" Rosalind Lartson said.

The suspects weren't armed. They now face criminal charges. Authorities believe a fourth may have gotten away.

Hamilton worked in the southeast patrol division and has been on the job for 28 years.

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