61-year-old Dennis Fleming was at his home in Farmington, N.H. when he noticed that some of his drawers and belongings had been rifled through. After retrieving a .38-caliber handgun, Fleming went to investigate and spotted a suspicious man with a backpack walking up the street. A short time later, Fleming heard a loud noise coming from his neighbor’s home and saw the same suspicious man crawling out of his neighbor’s window. Fleming confronted the criminal and fired a warning shot into the ground to get him to halt. The tactic worked and Fleming was able to detain the burglar until police could arrive. The criminal has since been charged with burglary and possession of Vicodin and has admitted to burglarizing several other homes in town.
Unfortunately, instead of being hailed as a hero, the Strafford County Attorney’s Office recommended that Fleming be charged with felony reckless conduct for the warning shot, carrying a possible sentence of 3 ½ to 7 years. In the days following the incident Fleming received nationwide support and after further review of the case the County Attorney’s Office dropped the charges, with County Attorney Tom Velardi noting that “a charge under these circumstances would be unjust.” (The Union Leader, Manchester, N.H. 02/22/12, 02/23/12)