Farmington man won't face felony gun charge for stopping burglary suspect
DOVER - After reviewing the evidence, Strafford County Attorney Tom Velardi decided to drop the felony reckless conduct charges against a Farmington man who apprehended an alleged burglar Saturday.
A warrant was issued for Dennis Fleming, 61, after he fired his .38 caliber handgun once into the ground while apprehending Joseph Hebert, 27, of 70 Bunker St. of Farmington, who was later charged with possession of Vicodin and two counts of burglary.
Herbert allegedly broke into Fleming's home, took several items and headed to a neighboring home Saturday afternoon. Fleming noticed Herbert when he was walking down the street and later spotted him allegedly coming out of a neighbor's window. Fleming fired the shot as a warning and detained Herbert until police arrived.
"My review of this situation was based on the circumstances under which the shot was fired and whether other citizens were placed or may have been placed in danger of serious bodily injury. The facts available at the scene on Saturday supported the charge of felony reckless conduct, but subsequent facts discovered since have led me to believe that such a charge under these circumstances would be unjust," Velardi said in a news release.
Fleming could not be reached for comment this morning.
While he was anxious about being sent to prison, Fleming said earlier, he was overwhelmed by the support of his neighbors and from calls from around the state and country.
Velardi reminded area residents to handle and use firearms responsibly, even in cases of self-defense. He added, "Firing a 'warning shot' around or near other people or dwellings can result in police involvement or even a criminal charge."
Velardi stressed that residents who witness a crime or see inappropriate behavior should contact police.
"Ultimately, citizens should forgo direct involvement in the apprehension or detainment of suspected criminals," Velardi said in the release.