RVer Safety: What if you protect yourself but are then arrested?

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By Mike Sherman

We have discussed this before. It happens: You protect yourself but end up under arrest.

Direct from the news this week:

A 64-year-old New York state man who fatally shot a pair of prowlers rooting through his home Tuesday afternoon reportedly ended up in handcuffs after police said the weapon he used in self-defense was illegally owned.

Ronald A. Stolarczyk was charged with felony possession of an illegal handgun, New York State Police said in a news release.

At about 2:40 p.m., officials say Stolarczyk interrupted a man and woman burglarizing his home in Deerfield, New York, located about four hours north of New York City. Stolarczyk then shot the two suspects, according to police.

But the 64-year-old was later arrested after authorities said they determined the handgun used in the shooting was illegally owned.

One of the alleged burglars, identified by state police as 57-year-old Patricia Anne Talerico of Utica, was pronounced dead at the scene. The second alleged intruder, 27-year-old Nicholas Talerico of Utica, was transported to a hospital and died of his injuries.

Authorities said the investigation into the incident is ongoing.

The news article above is vague, lacking in any specific details other than “2 people shot, 1 man arrested.” I thought there had to be more to this story so I did a little digging and here is what I came up with:

MUGSHOTS: TWO KILLED IN DEERFIELD SHOOTING INCIDENT HAD CRIMINAL HISTORY
The incident on Walker Road turned deadly after the homeowner, 64-year-old Ronald Stolarczyk, shot and killed the intruders.

Posted: May 29, 2019 2:16 PM
Updated: May 29, 2019 3:04 PM
Posted By: WKTV

UTICA, N.Y. – The mugshots of the two people killed after an alleged attempted robbery in Deerfield have been released – meaning they both had a criminal history. Authorities are also investigating if the intruders had been in the house prior to Tuesday afternoon.

The incident on Walker Road turned deadly after the homeowner, 64-year-old Ronald Stolarczyk, shot and killed Patricia Anne Talerico, 57, and her nephew Nicholas Talerico, 27, after they entered his home.

Police found items belonging to Stolarczyk in another home Tuesday night. Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara says police are trying to determine if the two robbed Stolarczyk’s home about a week ago.

“A truckload of evidence was seized last night. At this point, we have to determine whether or not that was evidence that had been taken from this residence on a prior occasion,” McNamara said.

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office released past booking photos of Patricia and Nicholas, saying that both have criminal records.

Patricia Talerico had been arrested more than 20 times in the past, and Nicholas Talerico was arrested on more than one occasion.

Both suspects were Utica residents, although they lived at different addresses.

Stolarczyk is facing charges for using his deceased father’s gun to kill the two, which he never registered to himself. He is currently being held at the Oneida County Jail.

WKTV will have more information as soon as it becomes available.

So, now we know there is more to the story. You might be asking the question,”What does this have to do with safety & security for RVers?” Well, you return to your campsite and discover people inside your RV ripping you off. What would you do? If you are armed, would you shoot them? I can’t determine if the suspects were armed but it does not matter. They could arm themselves quickly with items in the home and use it against you.

If you are unarmed, your best bet is to back off. However, even if you are armed, you might consider before you take offensive action. Remember how I speak about each situation requires its own custom reaction? And we know you will rely on your life experiences, fear factors and a host of other emotions.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions concerning this shooting. On the surface, it appears unfair that the homeowner is in jail when he was the victim. However, if the suspects immediately tried to flee (as opposed to attacking) and you advanced towards them, even inside your own home, then you might have some legal problems. Perhaps the authorities are using the gun charge as a preliminary factor and he will face additional charges after further investigation.

Without having all the facts, would you care to come to any conclusions?

Note: We know what we discuss in this column may be controversial. While we invite your polite, constructive comments, inflammatory remarks will be immediately deleted.

Mike Sherman is a retired street cop and investigator with 30+ years of RV experience as a traveler, camp host and all-around advocate for the joys of living on the road. His articles are for general discussion purposes only – you should always consult your local authorities or legal counsel for specific answers if necessary. Write him at MikeShermanPI@gmail.com if you have questions, or leave a comment below. 

Read more RVer Safety articles here.

##RVT899

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Dpsdebi

Heck, in New York a gal can’t even have a little pink stun gun in possession….been there, done that. So glad I live in Texas!!

SolarSteve

Its not necessary to kill someone to stop them from breaking and entering, shoplifting etc. Killing is worse than the offender’s crime. Usually being caught n the act is enough to make them flee. Thus avoiding a more severe additional crime of manslaughter.

Billy Bob Thorton

I like the ” alleged” part. Both are dead, so that becomes a moot point. As for the good guy being charged with a gun violation, let’s analyze this shall we. He should take this one to the Supreme Court of the United States. Someone please chime in and tell me where any state has jurisdiction to supersede a constitutional right, to forfeit his right to bear arms. The second amendment was not put there by the founding fathers for hunting, it is there for personal protection of self and country (settled law). So, where does any state have the right, NOWHERE, thats where.

KellyR

I was trained on every weapon the Army had at the time, from side arms to rocket launchers and everything in between. I keep a can of wasp spray by my bed and front door. It shoots 20 feet and if you can get near the face, I really don’t know what it feels like but don’t think I want to find out. Oh, it is also nice to have wasp spray handy when camping out. It kills other bugs too.

Ken

YARTNLINY. Yet another reason to not live in New York.

Don Kostyal

He was already robbed once (articles of his found in another location–perps abode???) Being that they were in the home and not breaking in, I’d shoot them, My story is they rushed me. NY is better off! If they were trying to break in I tell them I have a gun and provided they turned around and left I would call the authorities and report an attempted break in. As for the “illegal gun” get a good lawyer and fight that to the end–it was a family heirloom. Not registering it was a technicality but unless he is prohibited from owning a firearm it is his 2nd Amendment right. Finally, I would move out of NY with all the others–FL just surpassed NY as 3rd most populated State.

ken Meaker

It’s too bad one cannot protect his own

Don Peterson

That’s NY for you. Come to TX where a man’s home is HIS castle and it would be imminently legal to do what he did.

MrDisaster

Sigh… owner apparently was in fear for his life and took action. His crime…a handgun that was not registered to him. Unfortunately the cops and prosecutor had no real choice but to charge him with that crime. I don’t know what the penalty will be, but I suspect that he will either surrender the weapon or be ordered to pay a fine and register it. Maybe the judge will defer the fine and place him on probation. Please follow-up on the case to let us know what the outcome is!!

Tom Fitch

I’m not a gun guy by any stretch, Mike, but I sure do enjoy your column. Keep ’em coming. One over riding take-away I get from your writing is there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to using firearms to protect yourself or your property. And that it varies so much between states is simply mind boggling. A solution to this conundrum would indicate Federal laws so that everyone everywhere can know the law with little ambiguity. Do you think this is possible? Doubtful!

Gordy

As has been said know the laws where you are traveling.
Use only the amount of force necessary to resolve the situation. If all you are able to do is use gun, you should really think about what your actions will be. Unless your life is truly threaten you should not be pulling the trigger.
Cops have to make these same decisions and its not easy for them with training and experience.
Do not think going to the range 1 time is all you need.

Mark

With 40,000 gun laws on the books in the U.S., if in ANY way your gun becomes “noticed” by the authorities, you have probably broken a gun law. I live in New York State, I’m retired law enforcement, and (outside the home) I wouldn’t draw my gun until I thought it was needed immediately to save a life; inside the home I wouldn’t SHOOT until then. New York State would so rather prosecute you, than allow you to defend yourself. Absolutely true. My feet itch more and more every day to leave this state. In New York State you need BOTH, a permit (license) to carry, AND each handgun LISTED on that permit. The story didn’t say which was the offense in this case.

Bob Godfrey

The good news is that the bad guys won’t be around to testify against him.

Steve Flippo

Gee, as if I needed another reason not to live in New York. Your father bequeaths you a firearm and it must be registered? Last decent person to leave new york, turn out the lights.

John Whitney

I think one point that you must take away from this is this: you must know the law in your state of residency, then be sure you are in compliance. Then if you travel, you must know the law in every state you travel to or through.
Generally I travel with a pistol in the bedroom of my Motorhome. After reading Mike’s column, I purchased the book covering gun laws in all 50 states. After reading it, I got a CCW permit. I also realized that I couldn’t possess a handgun located any where in my vehicles while traveling to or through specifically New Jersey or New York. Even residents of New York must jump through hoops to be able to legally possess firearms.
Heed Mike’s warnings!

Pam S

The fellow was arrested because the gun was illegal. Maybe there will be other charges later, but he was not arrested for protecting himself. The headline is deliberately misleading.

John

If someone is in your house or RV – they are there to do you harm

STEPHEN P Malochleb

So you make a very good point here. If he had fired a warning shot first and they tried to flee it could be considered murder. When using a weapon if you decide to chase the suspects and continue to fire you become the criminal. As you mention you must use some common sense and have some life experience. Taking an armed self defense course is probably the best decision you can make if you plan to be armed. It will help you make the right decisions. Thank you Mike for continuing to address these issues. I’m sure you know all to well that the laws don’t always protect the innocent.