MIDWEST CITY — It's a place known for the long, symbiotic relationship it shares with nearby Tinker Air Force Base.
But recent events have given Midwest City another distinction: It's a dangerous place to commit a burglary, Police Chief Brandon Clabes said.
For the third time in just more than a year and half, the Oklahoma County district attorney has ruled a resident was within his rights to shoot and kill an intruder under the state's “Make My Day” law.
“Go ahead. Make my day.”
The phrase conjures up the image of Clint Eastwood's “Dirty Harry” in the 1983 film “Sudden Impact.”
The Oklahoma law nicknamed “Make My Day” allows the use of deadly force by individuals who have a “reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm” after someone illegally enters their business or home.
Lawmakers currently are exploring expanding it to include individuals who enter a business peacefully but carry “violent intent.”
Clabes called the number of “Make My Day” shootings since October 2010 “an anomaly.”
He said burglaries tend to drop immediately after one of these incidents occurs.
Overall, though, break-ins are becoming more common, statistics show.
Incidents of breaking and entering occurred 414 times in Midwest City in 2000 and in 2010, nearly double to 817, according to the most recent state crime data available.
Census figures show the population remained steady during the same time period, with a half percent bump from 54,088 to 54,371 individuals in the 24-square-mile city.
In the most recent Midwest City case, a man's growling dog alerted him to a break-in Jan. 26 at a duplex in the 300 block of N Kendra Drive.
It was about 7:40 a.m., and Elmer Reed's girlfriend had left to go to school, records show.
As the intruder kicked in the front door, Reed fired a single round from his semi-automatic handgun, hitting the intruder in the chest, Clabes said. It was the only bullet in the gun.
A 911 recording says Reed hid in the closet waiting for emergency responders to arrive, Clabes said. The intruder, Reginald Keith Joseph Jr., 27, was taken to Midwest Regional Medical Center, where he died, Clabes said.
“He was trying to pull the trigger first, and I shot him,” Reed told a 911 operator. “He fell to the floor with his gun right next to him.”
Reed wasn't sure whether the intruder was dead, so he hid in the closet while on the phone with the dispatcher.
“I'm in the closet. I'm hiding. Please hurry,” he said.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater ruled Feb. 8 that the death was justifiable.
The night of Oct. 21, 2010, young mom Amanda Walworth was asleep at her house in northeast Midwest City with her children while her husband was at work at Tinker Air Force Base.
A loud noise woke her up just before 8 a.m.; she thought she felt the earth shake, Clabes said. It wasn't an earthquake but two teenage stepbrothers kicking down her door.
Walworth shot and killed Marquis Lee Patterson and shot the Dewayne Edward Kemp in the stomach.
Kemp ran away and survived, but he was charged with murder in Patterson's death, as was a third man, a lookout, Clabes said. There was no relationship between Walworth and the intruders.
On April 16, 2011, a dispute between two individuals ended in violence about 11 p.m. on the south side of Midwest City, when one man broke into the home of the other wearing a large knife in a scabbard, Clabes said.
Mark Wilkinson, 32, of Norman, reportedly was angry at Raymond Stauffer, 38, because of comments he made about Wilkinson's wife possibly being involved in drugs, Clabes said.
Wilkinson tried to force his way into Stauffer's Midwest City home and was shot to death.
The death was also ruled justifiable.
Prater said every case is different. While his office doesn't track the amount of “Make My Day” cases handled each year by the office, he surmised he typically sees five per year.
“You have to look at all the facts and circumstances surrounding a given case,” Prater said.
“Each of them stands on their own set of facts. These cases can get very complicated, especially when the person killed and the person who killed them know each other.”
Clabes said residents who kill intruders often go into hiding or are forced out of their homes because of fear or threats of retaliation by friends or relatives of the person killed. In the latest case, the couple moved out of their duplex within 24 hours.
Prater was less surprised than Clabes by three “Make My Day” shootings since October 2010. The incidents happen randomly, he said.
“It so happens the homeowner was present when their home was burglarized,” Prater said.
“I will continue to support a homeowner's and an innocent person's right to defend themselves against an attacker,” he said.