Plumber may do hard time for shooting thief on his property

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gunSPOKANE — Gail Gerlach, a 56-year-old plumber, faces the possibility of eight to 10 years in prison after he shot and killed a man stealing his 1997 Chevy Suburban from his driveway, the Spokesman Review reported.

Prosecutors charged Gerlach with first-degree manslaughter on Wednesday.

Minutes after he shot fleeing car thief Brendon Kaluza-Graham, Gerlach told police he “was scared and that he did not know if he did the right thing,” according to The Spokesman-Review.

The newspaper also said the case is pitting those who support Gerlach’s use of deadly force to subdue an auto thief, against those who fear the spread of uncontrollable and sometimes misguided vigilantism.

Gerlach told investigators he was about to take his wife to work on the morning of March 25 when he went outside to see the the Suburban he had left running in his driveway being stolen.

According to court documents, he said he briefly chased the vehicle, and when he was at the bottom of his driveway, thought he saw the thief turn around and motion like he had a gun.

However, an investigator wrote in the report that the window was too tinted and dirty and the back of the car was full of stuff making it impossible for anyone to see through the back.

Detectives believe Gerlach, who has no criminal record, was 40 feet to 60 feet away from the SUV when he fired his weapon, and hit Kaluza-Graham in the back of the head, killing the 27-year-old instantly.

No firearms were recovered in the SUV.

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27 comments

    • Wayne

      The prosecutor is nuts. The thief was committing a felony and one shell saved the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. WA needs a law like some other states where the criminal committing a felony can be stopped by any means necessary and he, his heirs, relatives, whatever have no civil recourse back at the citizen that killed or injured him.

  • Dave

    They used to hang 'em if they stole your horse, I think what he did may have saved some people's lives. Who knows what that creep would try if he got away with it? I think the prosecutor should go to jail for trying to protect criminals. I know how I would rule if I was on the jury. Shame on our justice system, shame on Washington State!

  • adam

    Just like always its never the criminals fault only the victims. I say whoever voted him guilty should be hung for incompetence. I work for my belongs including my guns. You wanna take them from me you’ll get my truck my bike and my guns over my dead body.

  • CLL

    He did the right thing!! Maybe the prosecutor should spend his time educating crooks that they may get shot when stealing.

  • menudolvr

    So sad when we can't protect our own property. Not even a drunk driver who takes a life gets that much time. Ridiculous world we live in now days.

  • Bootlegger59

    Now……….here we go, this is going to be a great example to this country, for striving to get the American people to buy into to Gun control!! Our government is looking for something to swing the pendulum the other way, so that they can get a toe hold on taking guns away from people. What better way, than to convict a man for killing some sneaking, sniveling thief. So, what do they want to do with him?….they want to put HIM, in jail or prison, when they should give him a medal for stopping another stinking slug that wants to take away something that HE worked so hard to get. Plus, when do you think they would get the car back? And, in what condition? It would probably be trashed and the insurance company wouldn't pay for a stolen vehicle!

      • John Gilday

        The thief? I agree. He chose his potential short term gains against the occupational hazard of lead poisoning. He lost because he chose… poorly.

      • Bootlegger59

        HE WHAT???? Boy, you'd better get a grip on life. You're really very fortunate it wasn't YOUR car! You would have peed your pants, probably, and cried a great deal. Meanwhile, it was the thief who got his! I know this, he won't steal from anyone again. IF, the police had caught him, he'd probably gotten off with 30 days suspended. I give kudos to the homeowner, he did what was right. It's political correct bunnies like you, who need to get their faces slapped!

  • Redeemed

    Personally I;d give him a medal for that one shot to the back of the head through the window the cop said no one could see through… and the moment a man can stop a thief or burglar with deadly force is a day where lawlessness in encouraged in the face of disarmed property owners by fear of crimanl prosecution for protecting their lives and lively hood which generally is made possible by reliable transportation. He might of well of been stealing the fatten Ox.

  • NAVYTOWN

    Folks, when you are on a jury, you have the right to decide if the LAW is wrong as applied to that case. If you as a juror feel that a 'guilty' verdict would be an injustice, then you can vote 'Not Guilty' no matter what the lawyers, judge or other jurors say. This was how Colonial Americans gained their freedoms against tyrannical laws. You as a juror are only beholden to your God-given intellect and conscience.
    Look up 'jury nullification' and get the facts.

  • Really?

    Whether or not he broke the law, ask yourself this: are crime rates on the rise or are they declining? If they're on the rise, it's time to do something different. Perhaps the state's promise to house and give three squares a day to anyone if they want to commit a crime isn't enough of a deterrent. Perhaps increasing the law-abiding citizen's rights to defend themselves and their own property would help deter the criminals. We can't afford more cops and we can't afford to keep the criminals already arrested in prison, so they're being released. When penalties are removed from crimes even when a person is convicted, it leads to lawlessness.

    With the recent news that 180 inmates in Pierce County will be released early, I would sure hope people like Gail Gerlach are first in line for early release!

  • Todd

    In my home we have a little saying, "Come in this home unwanted,or touch something that doesn't belong to you, keep one thing in mind. This PROPERTY is protected by GOD and gun, you're gauranteed to meet one, and you just might meet the other."

    Now for ths socilaistic prosecutor, this is something I would have expected over here on this side of the state, not over there on the east side. This just goes to show you, liberalization is destroying this country. When criminals have more rights and protections afforded to them than hard working law abiding citizens, our government is a failure.

  • John Gilday

    "sometimes misguided vigilantism."

    Dear Mr./Ms. Reporter,
    Thanks for clarifying where reporting ends and editorializing begins.

    Sincerely,
    John

  • John Gilday

    Terribly sorry about this horrible waste. What a sad and terrible loss. That truck's rear window never did a damn thing to anyone. But now it's in a thousand pieces and will probably be recycled into a Coke bottle !

    the real victims are never noticed…

  • Dakota Rose

    Its just another reason for them to try to take our guns, We all work hard for all our stuff and tired of other people stealing it.

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