Deadly Ding Dong Ditching

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A 14-year-old Oklahoma honor roll student is recovering after he was shot by a homeowner while playing a dangerous teenage game of ringing doorbells as a prank in the early morning hours of New Year’s day. The homeowner was not arrested, but could face charges later.

According to KWTV, the teenager, identified as Cole Peyton of Pryor, Oklahoma, was with friends as the boys were playing the doorbell prank game, which local police chief, Steve Lemmings, called “ding-dong ditching”. For those who were never bored enough to play the game, “ding dong ditch” is when you ring someone’s doorbell and run away before the person can answer it.

Just after 1:30am Friday Peyton rang the doorbell of a local homeowner. The unidentified homeowner reportedly went out to his yard and fired several shots at the boys, striking Peyton in the back and arm, with one bullet puncturing his liver. Peyton, who is on the honor roll, football and wrestling teams at Pryor High School, is recovering in a local hospital.

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Police received a call reporting a home invasion, which would justify a shooting by a homeowner, under Oklahoma’s self-defense laws. The law states that a person who uses defensive force must know or have “reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred”.

However, police report the teens were not trying to break into the shooter’s house. This leaves open the possibility that the homeowner could be arrested. Since he has not yet been charged with a crime, police did not release his name, but said the Mayes County district attorney’s office would review the case.

Though this may not be a “stand your ground” incident, Oklahoma is a stand your ground state. The law says, “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony”.

Does ringing doorbells constitute a ‘forcible felony’?

Too many parents aren’t remembering that the harmless pranks they themselves participated in as a youth that gave them a giggle would be a dangerous undertaking in the times we live. They perhaps aren’t diligent about imparting that the prankee behind the door may be armed to the teeth with absolutely no sense of humor. Fear has robbed them of it. The kid was being a nuisance, obviously more than that, probably seeming to be threatening to someone in the privacy of their home, bet he learned a lesson about respecting the home security of another person. Teaching kids to respect people and property should be life lesson number one. If they choose not to, there are consequences and yes, they may even be shot. That lesson would be helpful in so many situations.

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Whether it’s physically harassing or verbally harassing, harassing others for our own enjoyment, it’s disrespectful to invade other people’s property and privacy. With the amount of paranoia suffered by many today I would suggest explaining to your kids that activities like this that so many of us may have engaged in – in our youth, toilet papering, corning, egging homes or ringing doorbells for any purpose at ANY time day or night is probably not such a good idea anymore.

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