Coping: With the Late Night Intruder

We’re gonna share a story this morning that’ll make your toes curl.

This is the kind of situation no one ever wants to face.

When it happens, you might read a headline, but never a first-hand report – like this one.


Here’s what happened:

“Sunday night we went to bed at 10PM. At 1:30AM, the wife woke me saying she heard something in the house. I sleep with CPAP, so I sleep hard and deep.

I listened, and heard something. I got the gun, thumbed the safety off, and left the bedroom. I saw a man in my kitchen. He was just standing there, sort of staring. He had switched on the lights, and when I saw his face, he was someone I had met. I aimed the gun.

“Hey!” I said. He spun slowly, almost stumbling. He sort of looked through me.

“Where’s the dog food?” he asked calmly.

Then I noticed the leash on the floor, and a huge Rottweiler walked into view.

“What the f*ck are you doing in my house?” I asked firmly.

“What? This is Jean’s house and I need to get my stuff.” was his reply.

I walked closer, and smelled alcohol on him. I knew him from somewhere but couldn’t place him.

“You need to get out of my house, and NOW,” I said.

“OK.” he said. “But this is Jean’s house and I gotta get my stuff.”

I flicked the end of the gun at the door. “Let’s go outside now, so you can get your stuff.”

“Good idea, ” he said.

He went out the door, which I had forgotten to lock since there had been no need in 25 years to lock it.

When he stepped outside, the dog followed. The dog was dragging one of those self winding leashes behind him, with about 8 feet of line extended. When he got outside, I noticed there was blood all over his t-shirt, and he was barefooted.

“Why are you in my house?” I asked.  He stared at me, eyes sort of blank. He wasn’t staggering, but he was very wobbly.

“I got to get my stuff,” came the repeated answer. I knew he was massively fucked up, and then finally placed him. I had met him at a fundraiser for a woman running for city council. He was a typical suburban boy, nothing weird I could recall. But this situation was very weird. I thumbed the safety on, and lowered the gun somewhat.

“Look, ” I said. “This isn’t your house and it’s not Jean’s house. Look around you. This is my house and you just walked in. It’s one in the morning, and I was ready to shoot you.”

Only then did he look at the gun. It seemed to finally register.

“OH! OK,” he said. Then he walked into my garage door, which was open.

“NO! Not that way. That’s my garage and you don’t need to go in there. You need to go out this gate and go home.” I indicated the gate to my backyard with the gun, and he changed directions.

“Is this your dog?” I asked.

“No, That’s Shelly’s dog, not mine,” he replied as he walked out the gate.

“Where do you live?” I asked.

“On Palm Drive,” he answered. “You know that. The house with the purply trim. I put in some vegetables too.”

I watched him sort of meander down my driveway, then took the leash and threw it after him and the dog.

 I watched him walk away, glad I hadn’t shot him dead.

When I went in the house, the wife was hysterical, and had called the police. She handed me the phone.

“He is about 5’9″ tall, bald, glasses, wearing a white t-shirt with blood spots on it. He is barefooted and wearing plaid shorts or underwear. He is either very drunk or on something or having a mental break”  Then I handed the phone back to her. She hung it up and was trembling.

“A strange man just walked into our house. The dog didn’t even bark!” she blurted.

“The dog is half-deaf, eleven years old and has cataracts. He was also probably asleep like we were. I know that guy from the shrimp boil we went to last month. I got no idea why he walked into our house, but I am glad I didn’t shoot first.”

The police showed up, with lights, looking for the guy. He wasn’t on our street any longer. I was just glad he was gone and that I didn’t have to shoot him.

I spent an hour calming her and showing her that everything was now locked up tight.

The next day, the police called and said they had escorted him home. He was clearly under some influence or having a mental break, so we didn’t press any charges. After lunch, the doorbell rang. It was the guy, with his wife, and my wife nervously answered the door, holding it half open. He had come to apologize for what happened, and thanked me repeatedly for not shooting him dead. His wife was crying and repeatedly apologized.

It turns out that his doctor prescribed Ambien for him because he wasn’t sleeping. Apparently, this triggered sleepwalking or else a couple glasses of wine plus Ambien equals incredible effects in some people. He was indeed trying to get to Jeans house, where he had left 3 coolers used for the shrimp boil a few weeks previously. He had no idea why he wound up at my house and only remembered snatches of what transpired the night before. But he remembered the gun. And it was, in fact, his dog that was with him.

This incident is such a great example of what is wrong with many doctors, what is wrong with the pharmacy industry and why shooting first and asking questions later is not always the best plan.

I would have widowed a woman, left her with 3 kids and traumatized my wife permanently. I may have been justified, but that doesn’t mean it would have been the best outcome. I had the gun, was ready and knew I could. At that point, I felt confident I had the upper hand. And the entire situation was so strange that it felt wrong to kill him because he wasn’t actually threatening me.

I live in an upper-middle class suburban home in a really safe neighborhood. We have good police (they were there within 5 minutes) and they aren’t trigger or taser happy – they are peace officers and toll collectors mostly. So this incident is way off in the weird end of the spectrum.

I relate it to you because it seems to have multiple things to discuss within it – drugs, guns, etc.



Took me a while to wrap my head around it, but several things gelled for me.

First, I feel very sorry for the guy who had the adverse drug reaction. He’s a stand-up guy and there’s a huge lesson for the community in all this.

Check out this Google search:  Well over 20,000 articles with the keywords “ambien sleepwalk” popped up.

Second point is that OM2’s encounter happened in an area with fast response times and close neighbors.  Talking about it later, had the event happened at his farm, or ours, the outcome might have been dramatically shorter.

If you’re not following, consider that walking uninvited into a farmhouse at night in rural Texas has very high potential to be the last stupid mistake a person will ever make.  In the city?  There’s options.  Not so much out here.

Next point:  Lock doors and close garage doors. Remote and armed as we may be, the house is always locked down at night, including the shop – which has a very LOUD alarm system.

There are lots of other lessons implied:  Never take a new drug unless your doctor’s office is open is one of mine.  But you’re welcome to write up your own procedure plans from this.

Oilman2 has remarkable restraint, but he did what all Texans are supposed to know:  You don’t fire unless you fear for your life.  He did it by the book and the guy with the rotty is one lucky guy.  He ought to buy a Lotto ticket for this weekend with luck running so good.

OK, so much for the workweek…Peoplenomics tomorrow morning and have a great three-day weekend, though we will have a column Monday.  Markets closed, or not, it’s not always about money.

No, wait…maybe it is.

Write when you get rich,

22 thoughts on “Coping: With the Late Night Intruder”

  1. Good reactions George… Been there myself… I’m also glad I didn’t have to stain my soul with the murder of another human being. Gun control means staying cool when it’s out of the holster. Glad you and Elaine are ok… Extra shots of tequila tonight for you both!

  2. A similar incident happened to me that oilman went through. Only mine was a very drunk 16 year old kid who thought he was locked out of his house and was trying to break in. The kid was so out of it, he lived 5 miles away from me. The police came and arrested the kid and called the parents. His mom came by the next day very, very upset that I had pulled a gun on her baby. I told her that her baby was lucky I didn’t shoot him and that the police told me that if I had, it would have been self defense on my part.

  3. One accessory every gun owner should have is a reliable flashlight sitting right beside the gun. Having raised 6 kids who came in at various hours often with friends in tow, I always wanted to be able to confirm who the noisemaker really is.

    Full props to Oilman2 for calm and collected under pressure.

  4. I had the same experience, same outcome. Now 40 years later, I am still thankful that I did not have to kill someone. My whole life may have taken a different turn.

  5. Hmmm…… New Moon sleepwalking? Had a similar episode with my roommate last night. No Ambien, maybe melatonin. Burst into my room at 2:30am. No gun involved and roommate became aware much faster than Oilman2’s invader. That scared and woke both of us up, and we both lost a lot of sleep last night.

    • I very much doubt that it was Melatonin. Melatonin makes you sleep like a rock. Most likely it was simply the person’s predisposition.

      I’m of the opinion that though Ambien is a dangerous drug, all drugs have their place, legal or otherwise, including schedule 1. As free and responsible human beings, we need to take full responsibility for anything we do or allow ourselves to get involved with. Personally, I’d be OK with everything being OTC, and MD’s being relegated to the role of advisers and consultants. I say that with the benefit of serious medical education myself. We get the freedom that we allow others.

      I’m very glad that OM2 was able to de-escalate the situation and avoid harm to anyone. Generally those things work out badly, even for those in law enforcement and on the job. For a decent civilian, it would be a serious emotional trauma.

      • Looked it up — melatonin CAN cause sleepwalking. Intend to print articles for roommate to read. There was more concern about melatonin than I expected to find — apparently not a good idea long term.

  6. This intruder experience is proof of the value of gun safety and firing training by a certified trainer. The most important factors in such situations are to remain as calm as possible, engage brain and THINK, and listen to your gut instincts. Kudos to Oilman 2.

    Totally agree with George’s comments on Ambien. Too many folks are deaf, dumb and blind reliant on what their MD says. I use OTC meds to help sleep: cough suppressant, Benadryl or Benadryl’s cousin, Dramamine. Dramamine has the power of Benadryl but no antihistamine hangover. I weigh about 210 and two do it for me.

  7. 2 stories. 65 years ago a drunk wandered into my grandparents’ house in Austin late at night, and went into their beautiful daughter’s room. Same outcome. My West Texas rancher grandfather took the time to size up the situation and nobody got hurt.

    Second story. Acquaintance drank a bottle of wine at home, and took the new wonder drug Ambien. Next thing she knew, there were a carfull of dead people she had. hit, and she was in jail for vehicular manslaughter. Her husband’s military career was over. Prosecutors were unaware of Ambien craziness, and another family was devastated forever. The drug company, of course, skated. And we spend hundreds of billions on pot prosecutions, while they sell this and other horrors with impunity.

  8. Several years back, an employee of mine drove to work and managed to work for a couple of hours and then “woke up” completely confused as to how he got there and what he had done. Ambien.

  9. A True Anecdote

    I related my story to my CPA. As the world turns, he had a client that he lost last year. The guy was an oral surgeon. He had some tax issues with the Feds, who didn’t like the way he structured his deductions and what he declared as losses. They had been on him hard for months. He had just buried his father as well.

    The doctor was having trouble sleeping, and one of his doctor “friends” prescribed him Ambien so he could get some rest.

    After a week on this drug, he told my CPA he was really a lot less tired and was sleeping. He looked better too.

    A few days after my CPA saw him, they got a call he was dead. He had gotten up in the middle of the night and eaten his gun. The guy wasn’t in serious tax trouble (less than $10k at issue), and everything else was just fine. He was 44 years old, good marriage and good kids – life pretty much on-track.

    Most importantly, my CPA said this was NOT at all in his character and not at all related to the IRS issue, as they had ample money to cover it available. His wife is still mystified as to the why of what happened.

    I am not mystified any longer about Ambien being something they should take off the market. There are just too many stories that end badly with this drug. You would be better off taking a few stiff shots of your favorite distillation each night than taking this drug.

  10. George: To date, this is my vote for article of the year. I’ve copied, pasted and it is going out to my contacts with the subject line: Read This.

    Oilman2: My view – this man was steered by God to the right house because the right person was there to keep him safe during this time of peril. In short, you answered the higher calling. Good on ya’.

    I hope you both continue with the great articles and insights. They keep me on my mental toes.

    Enjoy your weekend.

  11. One Additional Note:

    A restraining order only works by taking the guy back to court again – it’s a PROCESS. The police have no power other than to warn the person away.

    A Criminal Trespass Warrant, on the other hand, allows the police to arrest the guy if he comes back onto your land. It doesn’t affect the guy if he stays away.

    This is from our police chief here in Texas, so check your local laws. We didn’t execute either of these options, as we felt the incident was just that – an incident. The fact that they did show up to apologize and explain meant a lot to my wife. I am glad they did for that reason, and because it was the stand-up thing to do if the Ambien was the culprit.

    Otherwise, my thoughts about this incident would have gone in a more insidious direction – after all, this is suburban Houston where there are several millions of people. And like everywhere else, there are the good, the bad and the switch-hitters…

  12. Too many legal drugs are too damaging to be subscribed. After my 14 years of chronic pain, living on morphine, last year the FDA finally added a warning to fluoroquinolones for neuropathy. This is after millions of people have become permanently damaged. No wonder we have an “opioid epidemic”.
    Ambien is another BAD drug. Why doesn’t the FDA stop it? Too much money to be made.

  13. George: Best article of the year to date. Recommend you submit.

    Oilman2: Reminds of a story about a Good Shepard. Good on ya’.

  14. While I do carry on a fairly regular basis I do so with the knowledge that pulling the trigger is a point of change from which your life will never be the same again regardless of the end result. It all comes down to whether or not you and yours are going to be a victim or a survivor in a situation you had no control over entering in the first place. Kind of like elections. Pick the lesser of two evils and try to move on.

  15. I use Melatonin on a regular basis and I have never had any sleepwalking episodes. I would never take Ambien under any circumstances. Its side effects have been known for years but Big Pharma has the money and the political connections to get away with continuing to sell it.

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