MARYSVILLE, Wash. – Marysville police said a homeowner did everything right when he came face-to-face with a criminal on the lam Monday morning, putting his conceal-and-carry permit to the test.
The homeowner, Joe Hemrich, said it took the decade of training with his pistol to teach him not to pull the trigger on the man.
“I swing the door open and say, hey! He turned and that’s when I said, put your hands in the air,” Hemrich said.
Just after midnight Sunday, Hemrich was staring straight into the eyes of a man with whom police said had four warrants out for his arrest.
Hemrich said he didn’t know that at the time -- all he knew in that moment was this man was holding a baton and was four feet away from his child’s bedroom.
“Up until two weeks ago, we had 70-degree nights, so those windows are open at night,” he said.
The father of three held his stance in the doorway, holding the pistol he owned and trained with for 12 years.
“This the first time in my life it has ever come out of a holster, when I wasn’t at a range,” he said. “I train so I know exactly where it is, exactly how to pull it out, whether my finger is going on the trigger.”
Hemrich said it’s that extensive training and comfort with his weapon that allowed him to focus on the man in front of him, not on his gun, “which is why no one got shot last night,” he said.
Hemrich said he’s heard the horror stories of what can happen in situations where homeowners confront criminals. He said when it comes to weapons, good Samaritans can wind up hurting others.
“You have to know how to use it. If not, you’re just a liability,” he said, talking about his gun.
Last week, a Bonney Lake homeowner received more than eight years in prison for accidentally killing his neighbor with a stray bullet. The man fired at a man stealing his car. It’s cases like that, said Hemrich, that were in the back of his mind in his situation.
“I carry a firearm to protect myself, my family, my community with the intentions of never having to use it,” he said.
Surveillance video captured Hemrich walk the suspect at gunpoint to the front of his yard, ordering the man to the ground and holding him until police arrived.
“I could see quite clearly there was a good-size knife sticking out the top of his backpack,” he said.
The entire altercation from when he confronted the man, to when police arrived lasted about five minutes, he said, adding that it was the longest five minutes of his life.
Marysville police said Hemrich did everything right in Monday morning’s altercation. They said most importantly, Hemrich complied with officer’s commands when they arrived on scene.
The suspect was reported to be a 23-year-old transient with four warrants for his arrest.