July 1st, 2008
09:29 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Hero or Vigilante?

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight, we're taking another look at the controversial actions of Joe Horn. Back in November, the Texas man shot to death two men robbing his next door neighbor's house. That's even after a 911 dispatcher told him not to do it. Yesterday, as we told you on 360, a grand jury said Horn should NOT be prosecuted. They said he broke no laws. Yet, the legal decision has our nation divded ( just check out the reaction to this story in last night's Evening Buzz). Could this case set a dangerous precedent as some fear? We'll be looking at that tonight on 360.

Also, breaking news – manhunt over.
The search for a man suspected of killing at least 8 people over the last several days in Illinois and Missouri has ended. The victims included a child and a 93-year-old man. Tonight, we're on the scene with the latest developments. We're also looking at what would drive someone to go on a killing spree.

And, left for dead. A woman collapses in a hospital waiting room and what happens next?
Nothing. OK, well, not quite nothing. Almost everything that does happen, will make your blood boil. We're keeping them honest.

All that and more tonight on 360.
Hope you'll join us at 10pm ET.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (165 Responses)
  1. Angela, NC

    Texas law allows a third party to defend a neighbors property if they feel it is threated. Truth is these men may have seen how easy the theft was and came back at later date to the same neighborhood. These men were in this country illegally and commiting crimes. They may have not deserve to die but our corrupt justice system would have not even seen it fit to deport them. They would have been back on the streets in a short time commiting more crimes. Vigilante justice would not exist if we as Americans felt like our politians were working for us.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  2. Trish

    This man is no hero, he shot these men in the back, and it appears that his life was not in danger. If he had not shot them in the back it would be a different situation. If a burglar is at my neighbors, I will call the police, and watch carefully for anything that may help to capture the people. If they come and try to get into my home, and it appears that I am in danger, yes I have the right to protect myself at that time. However, why would I shoot them in the back, if the back is turned to me, I cant be in that much danger. People need to wake up and smell the blood! A life is not worth taking over some things out of a home. Things can be replaced, lives can not.
    Trish, Mississippi

    July 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  3. Anthony

    I can't believe that the city of Houston let this guy off the hook. After all, It seemed like that Mr. Horn was sitting on his porch, drinking some leomanade, waiting for something like that to happen so he can have an excuse to kill someone in cold blood. The thieves didn't seem to pose a threat to him. (after all, they were shot in the back with at 12-gauge shotgun) But then again, It is the state of Texas we are talking about!

    July 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  4. Brett

    Over and over laws are being passed to represent a utopian society that just doesn't exist.
    Rapists, Robbers, Traitors and Murderers should get exactly what's coming to them.. other wise they just keep doing it! (and they do).

    July 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  5. Edwin

    That is one of the best parts of America. You guys look to police when you can't fend for yourself or need help. Here is Canada, if the police don't make the call, you are at the mercy of thugs and goons. Don't let them take that away from you. We can't take joy in hurting people, no matter what but we can never be removed from our own free will so much as what we are when we can't defend ourselves.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  6. Alex

    Forget that their backs were to him, he went out of the safety of his house and put himself in danger. The burglers were scumbags for stealing that they were immigrants is a non-issue. They were thieves who happened to be in this country ilegaly. They are not any less human for not having a green card.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  7. Derrick

    i think that he was wrong they were'nt in his house for the guy on the show saying he think they got what they deserved he's wrong ...That was murder .... he could of stayed in the house he didnt have to take the law in his own hands....he Is Not a officer of the law.....he was wrong

    July 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  8. Geraldine Alshamy

    In response to Mr. Horn. I feel his actions are scary. While I do feel a person has a right to protect their home. Mr Horne went out with deliberate intent to kill. He could have shot them in the legs as well as shoot them in the back.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  9. Michael F, Nebraska

    Wasn't that 911 operator a police officer, giving lawful insfructions? Didn't Horn BET that he would not be shot? Wasn't it because he SAW that his victims were unarmed? Didn't he PREMEDITATE about killing these men? Are these men less than human because they were illegal aliens? Didn't Horn go outside to meet these men? Is America ready for the fallout of the irresponsibility and partiality of this grandly WEAK (grand) jury, chickening out of doing the right thing? Horn is a cold blooded, prideful, premeditated murderer, and he and that grand jury, both turn my stomach.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  10. Leonard

    Good on Joe Horn.
    More action like that would put every thug & thief on alert that law abiting citizens won't put up with their terrorizing & malicious crap any more.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm |


    July 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  12. Sam

    Mr. Horn is neither a hero or a vigilante but should not be prosecuted. I can't say I would have done the same thing but if more criminals could expect people to defend their property (or their neighbors) the way he did they might think twice about victimizing people. The men who were killed are not the victims here. They took their lives in their own hands.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  13. Cathy

    This man was in his house and had NO REASON to go outside and shoot these men. He shot them in the BACK after telling the 911 operator that he was going to kill them. This is premeditated murder. He should pay for this terrible crime that he committed.

    Cathy (native Texan living in NV....now you see why)

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  14. John from Virginia

    I was raised when there was a fear of Russians taking over this country. The talk was always that citizens had their weapons to defend this country. With the laws protecting the criminal more than the ciizen now, they are more bold and not afraid to do things like this. If my home was threatened, my family and even my neighbor, I would react the same way. The right to bear arms and to protect your property and to love your neighbor to me all tie together. I am so glad he was not prosecuted.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  15. Ilya Kleynerman

    This is beyond incomprehensible. It is clear that those thieves were bad guys, but this is not the test. The test is that Horn tried to impose his own version of imminent justice on those men. I think it is quite clear that there is no way that he was threatened, the only thing that was threatened was his neighbor's property. He volonteered to get involved and killed those thieves without being provoked. This is crazy not to prosecute him. Who is he to decide that the value of his neighbor's property so greatly outweighed the value of two human lives so that he felt he had to cut those lives short on the spot?

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  16. Jon

    Al, police aren't around to protect the individuals, they are around to maintain the security of society. It IS our responsibility to protect ourselves in our daily lives.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  17. Paul Bridgers

    I feel it was simply an act of vigilante and plain out murder. I also feel it wil set a trend for others to follow. Do we really need that with all the things going in America

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  18. Ren

    This was outright murder. Sure they were robbers but they posed him no harm. They were not even in his home. This is outright murder and it sends a message that it is OK to take the law into your own hands. This is a bad message to be sending John Q. Public.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  19. Marvin Jones

    I commend Mr. Horn. Those guys got what they deserved. He had a right to protect his self and look after his neighbors house and stuff. What's wrong with that? Save some tax dollars by not processing the unworthy theives. Hello!!! Wake up, crimal justice systems in America.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  20. Pam

    Mr. Horn is a cold blooded killer. Although those men had no right to steal from his neighbor, he had no right to shoot them in the back. He is definitely not a hero. He should have let the police handle the situation.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  21. Justin Cox

    Then again, crime is getting worse, and Americans are going to start excercising their second amendment and start bearing arms. Things are going to end up being like the old western days and people are going to start cleaning the streets with fast moving and hard hitting lead.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  22. kay, tx

    Joe Horn wasn't doing what he thought was right, he was acting as judge, jury and executioner against men who posed absolutely NO threat to him. The police were just seconds away and he knew this. He lied when he said he was in danger. He never had to step foot outside of his house. He murdered those men in cold blood and he got away with it. There is absolutely nothing that can be said to justify what he did. Nothing.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |

    I think Horn is a hero. I used to sympathize with criminals when they were shot by the police until I was held at gunpoint and assaulted. I almost got killed. I have since never had any sympathy with criminals who are summarily executed. Mr Horn is a good citizen, and I encourage anyone with a gun to emulate him.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  24. Bryan Rafalko

    I think Joe Horn is neither a hero nor a criminal to be punished.

    The thieves were fully aware of the risks they faced in their chosen professsion.

    Too bad the dispatcher wasn't able to assure Mr. Horn that the authorities could react faster.

    Mr. Horn should be left alone to live his life. If this were to become a pattern, it would be another matter.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm |

    he was not in danger, just by the 911 operator he should have been prosucuted for murder. he used the law to kill.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
  26. Ry in FL

    Go Joe Horn. Consider him a volunteer crime fighter. I wish he was my neighbor. He's not a "hero" but he did stand up for what was right.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
  27. Michael Johnson

    This man is not a hero and he is not a criminal. He heart was in the right place stopping a criminal from stealing. However when he went out there he had not training and no experience in handling a dangerous situation. I think he just got caught up in a situation beyond his control. I think this will hang on him he does not need to be punished, he also should not be praised.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
  28. Mark

    He did the right thing. He was defending his family and friends. To hell with the lawyers who want to defend criminals.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
  29. Elizabeth

    We can't get to the point in this country where a TV set or a 4 wheeler is more valuable than a life. Also, the way this story is being told indicates that the undocumented lives hold less value. I am appalled.
    Houston, Texas

    July 1, 2008 at 10:49 pm |
  30. Jon

    Jes, that's ridiculous. They were not innocent men. They broke a law by coming into the country, they broke a law by trespassing, and they broke a law by stealing. Horn had been asked to watch the neighbors house, and he wouldn't have been doing a very good job of that if he let men break into the house and rob it.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:49 pm |
  31. vicki

    The 911 dispatcer was absolutely correct in telling him to stay inside, what if the officers had shot him? This is as close to cold blooded murder as it gets. He had no reason to play vigilante.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:49 pm |
  32. Lissette Burba

    I think he is a killer!! He had no reason to fear for his life because they were outside and leaving and still this horrible man killed these people in cold blood.

    He should be in jail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 1, 2008 at 10:49 pm |
  33. Karen

    You go Joe Horn!!!! I would do the same....

    July 1, 2008 at 10:49 pm |
  34. Muriel from California

    I think that this man did the right thing and the only thing he knew to do at the time. You know these burglars could have killed someone who was in that house or in the future would have. I think this man did us all a favor and got criminals off the street. Also, who is to say those burglars wouldn't come back and kill him because he saw them? I think this man did what he had to do at the time.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:49 pm |
  35. Lena

    He was not in any danger and he is wrong. He clearly said on the 911tape that he was going to kill them! He could have shot them in the leg or somewhere not fatal! God sees all and he will be judge!

    July 1, 2008 at 10:48 pm |
  36. Justin Cox

    A responsible and smart weapon or gun owner, hopefully, would be smart enough to fire warning shots to stop the men and hold them till the police were there.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:48 pm |
  37. Michelle S. / Dover, OH

    My kind of neighborhood block watch.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:48 pm |
  38. M.L. Kenley

    You gotta' realize that Texas has a different culture from your own bleeding-heart perspective.
    Look at it this way, If you break into someone's home here you're likely to get shot. If you commit a major crime here you get the death penalty.
    Commit any kind of serious crime and you get time in a tough, tough prison system.
    We don't screw around with bad people. Maybe they'll move on to New York City.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:47 pm |
  39. Robert

    This is why people make fun of Americans.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:47 pm |
  40. Mike in NYC

    "Could this case set a dangerous precedent as some fear?"

    Oh, the horror! Citizens acting proactively to stamp out crime.

    Torres and Ortiz were illegal immigrants from Colombia. Torres was deported in 1999 after a 1994 cocaine-related conviction.

    Grand jury indictments are not difficult to get, since the prosecutor largely controls the process. The GJ's refusal to indict says a great deal about the weakness of the case.

    Posters to the Evening Buzz were largely supportive of Horn, and rightfully so. Breaking into someone's house does not reflect well on one's character. As far as I’m concerned, one gives up one’s rights during one’s commission of a crime. And don’t quote law to me – it’s an ethical judgment that I’m quite comfortable with. Torres' and Ortiz's future assault/rape/murder victims owe a great deal to Horn.

    A happy ending. I’m sleeping well.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:45 pm |

    mr horn was a cold blooded killer, premeditated, and sorry he got off because he was white.................., i have insurance on my home for breakins,and robbery. no go texas.

    california at holloween man shot kid in his yard for stealing an object, he went on to be convicted.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:41 pm |
  42. Jo Anne Cummings

    I was just wondering where the police were all the time that it took to have such a lengthy conversation with the dispatcher. Seemed like a reality series.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:41 pm |
  43. Al Olmstead

    Joe Horn's lawful execution, of two illegal aliens caught robbing Horn's neighbor, has nothing to do with what is right, wrong or even civilized. "Right to murder" laws reflect rapidly growing alienation of police from society and consequent belief that "nobody protects me better than me." How far we've gone back to the jungle is best realized by remembering that Texas was the first state in the Union to enact gun control legislation, to stop six-gun shootouts, more than a century ago.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:39 pm |
  44. larry c


    July 1, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  45. Tyler in Appleton, WI

    I think that this incident may be an indicator of what is to come in the future, especially after the recent ruling from the Supreme Court. Inevitably gun violence will increase in the short term after this ruling but eventually it should fall to historic lows. Robbers will realize their lives aren't worth whatever they might find in someone's home. Finally, I agree that he is neither a hero or a vigilante he was doing what he thought was right, he was just a man who saw burglars in his neighbor's yard and wanted to protect himself and his property.

    July 1, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  46. alan w

    Desperate times, desperate measures. Whether you think Horn was right or wrong, this should serve as a wake up call . Many people are very sick of the crime around their neighborhoods. They are sick of waiting for our "officials" to do anything about it. If these guys were caught, instead of shot, they would most likely be deported and they could come back easily. When folks start protecting their neighbor's property instead of just letting it happen, it reminds me of how things used to be 40 years ago. We weren't afraid of being arrested or sued if we "got involved" in stopping someone for stealing, rapeing, murdering, etc.
    Too many people now say "as long as it's not my stuff, I'm not getting involved". Joe Horn said to the thugs..., "Move and your dead". He gave them a warning.
    I think the folks in Texas decided that he was doing a good deed. Joe Horn knew he was taking a big risk of getting arrested or sued but he did what he beleived was the right thing to do. Warn them and then shoot them. The thugs made their own choices.
    We'll see a lot more of this unless we start punishing the criminals and take away their "rights".

    July 1, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  47. Carmen, San Antonio

    Neither hero nor vigilante! Joe Horn did what he thought was right, protect himself and his neighbor's property. Those two men were not there to visit Mr. Horn. They were shot in the back, but if he'd waited for both to face him, maybe he'd be in his grave today. Hindsight is always 20/20....

    July 1, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  48. jes from Canada

    I read the comments posted last night re: Joe Horn. Gun toting Americans are murdering hundreds of innocent people inside & outside of the USA every day. I don't think GOD is impressed. As I watched the video of so called human being do nothing but watch as a woman died it was once again apparent that the one thing you cannot call the USA is a "civilized society".

    July 1, 2008 at 10:02 pm |
  49. Victor in Saanich, B.C. Canada

    As to 'left for dead', isn't this another fine example of the US health care system running into the ground!! I guess if she had the medical insurance necessary [IE. IF SHE HAD THE WEALTH!!!], perhaps this tragedy might have been averted!! With my ongoing medical conditions, as a Yank, I would be bankrupt but I would also be DEAD!!

    July 1, 2008 at 9:56 pm |
  50. Annie Kate

    On the shooting done by Joe Horn I don't see why he would say he was in danger from the robbers and afraid for his safety if their backs were to him. My discomfort with the story isn't so much that the man may have just been defending himself but the fact that he shot them in the back – that seems to contradict his statement that they were threatening him

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 1, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
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