A Travesty in Texas

Here’s what happened: 62-year-old Joe Horn called 911 after seeing two men robbing his neighbor’s home. When he saw the culprits leaving he asked the dispatcher if he should go out to stop them. The dispatcher told him to stay put saying, “You’re going to get yourself shot if you go outside that house with a gun.” Horn’s response? “You wanna make a bet?” So he went outside and cautioned the men, “Move and you’re dead,” following up his warning with shotgun blasts that killed the two Columbianos Diego Ortiz (30) and Hernando Riascos Torres (38). Joe then said to the dispatcher: “I had no choice; they came at me, man. I had no choice.” Last time I checked every human being has control over their own actions. So sorry Joe Horn, you did have a choice. And you made the wrong one. You were ordered to stay inside and let the police handle it, but decided to fire instead.

His defense was that he feared for his life, but he hit them in their backs—how can you fear someone who is running away from you? In his reasoning for taking the law into his own hands, Horn cited the “Castle Doctrine,” a law that went on the Texas books last year, which gives homeowners the right to use deadly force during robberies. But even the senator who wrote the law said that Horn was acting outside that statue, as it says nothing of protecting your neighbor’s home. Yet this vigilante was let off, and praised by his neighbors as a “hero.”

Yes, these men were committing a crime, but were their lives really worth the paltry $2,000 they grabbed from the home? Is it not fair to say that if they had been white Americans, this ruling would have gone a completely different way? Is it not okay for me to feel that this country cares not for those whose faces don’t make up the majority? Is it not kosher for me to mourn the lives of these men, regardless of their trespasses?

And with the Supreme Court’s June decision in District of Columbia v. Heller that it is illegal to restrict handgun ownership, I fear that we will only see more of the same. God help us.

—Kenrya M. Rankin

To read more about this case, check out the coverage in the Houston Chronicle.