Father Shoots Son He Believed was an Intruder—Why We Don’t Shoot at Shapes, Shadows or Sounds

Earlier this month, a father shot his 17-year-old son with a shotgun inside the family home. The father wasn’t defending himself of another family member against a deadly threat. The father shot the son because he shot before identifying the target.

Merced Man Shoots Son —

merced police department

The shooting took place around 2:30 AM inside a Merced, California residence. According to the Merced Sun-Star, while the family slept, a light came on in the backyard, which alerted Allen Brooks, the father. Brooks believed all his family members were inside the home. Allen says that he saw someone moving around in the backyard, and eventually the figure opened the back door and entered the kitchen.

Allen Brooks says at this time he said that he was armed and that the person coming inside the house should leave. Brooks then shot one time toward the person with a 12-gauge shotgun. Brooks said it was only after shooting that he realized the person he shot was his son. Pellets from the shotgun shell struck the 17-year-old in the arm, lower-abdomen and thigh.

Emergency personal transported the 17-year-old Brooks to a trauma center for surgery. At the time of this post, he is stable and expected to recover.

Triple S Disease —

Several years ago, Jacob wrote a post explaining a problem he called the ‘triple s disease.‘  The jist of the post is that we should not shoot at shapes, sounds or shadows. In nearly every instance where a family member mistakes another family member as a threat, the person shot at a sound, a shape or a shadow.

Identification —

In other words, the shooter failed to identify what it was they were shooting at. Now, I understand they identified the target as a person, but they never identified if the person was a family member or indeed a trespasser. Do you have a legal right to shoot at a shape, sound, or shadow inside your home? Probably. But should you? Probably not, because it can end tragically.

We’ve published many stories on our site where someone shoots a family member because of a mistaken identity. Now, in this case, the father announced that he had a gun, which is not a bad idea when confronting someone inside your home. It seems like that alone would have caused the son to stop and identify himself. The problem is we don’t know just how much time passed from the verbal announcement to the shot. There might not have been enough time for the son to identify himself.

So What Could Have Helped —

In almost all of these types of incidents, the shooter failed to use a flashlight or indoor lights to help properly identify who they were shooting at. Many people believe that sneaking around a dark house to surprise an intruder gives them the best tactical advantage. It’s my opinion that this is not the case and creates more problems.

A simple strategy for home defense is what we call IFDR—Isolate the Family, Defend the Room. Instead of searching the home, gathering in one location that is easily defended is better. It is very difficult to search a home for a suspect by yourself safely, even if it’s your own home. It’s far safer to defend your family from a position of advantage, make announcements and call the police.

searching your home

In closing —

Thankfully, this is a lesson both the father and son can learn from that didn’t cost a life. We also can learn and remind ourselves of the fact that we need to make sure we know not only what we are shooting at, but distinguish if the person inside our home is a stranger or a family member.

If you’ve never thought about or established a home defense plan or strategy, I highly recommend checking out our course called. Complete Home Defense: Tactics for Defending Your Castle. It is available as a DVD or an online download. You can learn more about this incredible course by clicking here.

complete home defense class

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