View Full Version : What constitutes a threat

11-04-2007, 2:06 PM
First I’d like to thank all the contributors here at calguns for the wealth of knowledge you have shared. I am a long time lurker. I know that this isn’t a 2A question, but it does relate to self-defense.

I volunteer with the High School Group at my church and this morning we had a small incident that left me wondering about something.

This morning during service an older man let himself into the room where we meet on Sunday mornings. I saw the pastor exchange a few words with the man and assumed that he was someone he knew. After the pastor started to teach it quickly became apparent that he had come with the intention of disrupting the service.

The pastor asked him who he was and what his connection was to the group (guess I assumed too much earlier). When he couldn’t come up with a valid reason for his presence the pastor asked me to escort him out of the room. The guy (who had introduced himself as “Brother Doug”) held his ground and appeared to be writing his contact information out to give to one of our students(I wasn't about to let that happen). At this point I became more insistent that it was time for him to leave, to which he replied, “okay…but you’ll wish you hadn’t…”

I took this to be a threat, but he just seemed like a wrinkled old nutter, so I showed him the door and wished him a good day. As he left I noticed that he was walking to a beat up old motorhome that he had parked in the church parking lot. He opened the passenger door and appeared to be talking with someone and handling something on the passenger seat. I’ll admit that I became concerned that his earlier threat might have been less than idle.

I stood at the door for several minutes during which time he talked to his partner in the motorhome, continued fiddling with something on the passenger seat and looked over his shoulder at me several times.

He eventually left without further significant incident. I later found out that he has previously been seen at the home of at least one of our students (who happens to live in the same neighborhood as my family). Apparently he poses as someone from a tree removal service and when people turn him away he hits them with the old “fire and brimstone, turn or burn”.

After service we called the SO and gave them a description of the man and a license plate number. They filled out an incident report, but their response confused me a little. They asked, “So what do you want us to do”, then they went on to tell us that no crime had been committed. Their suggestion was to wait until he comes back and then call again.

My question is this: What constitutes a threat to person which would warrant police intervention.

Also, if I had realized that the motorhome in the parking lot was his I would have been more reluctant to let him return to it after what I believed was a threat to my person or perhaps a threat against the whole group. At what point am I justified in detaining him until police arrive?

TIA for your advice,


M. Sage
11-04-2007, 2:23 PM
Seems like you've done the right things to me.

You couldn't detain him, he would only have been guilty of trespassing if he hadn't left when asked to.

He only implied a threat, but didn't have any obvious way to carry it out. The implication wasn't even specific enough to make it seem like it was a threat on your person, or the persons of the group members. He could have meant "I'm going outside to key your cars now, fools!"

I'd just keep an eye out for him, and make sure to document anything else that happens with him. I'd spread the word for the rest of the group to do the same thing.

It's disconcerting, and I'd be "concerned", but wouldn't be in full paranoia mode... yet. :D

11-04-2007, 3:42 PM
If the pastor is the responsible *owner* or caretaker of the church and told him to leave....the moment he aint leaving he's breaking the law.

But that said. Tresspassing charges are minimal at best-- but you MAY *escort* someone off the premesis...much like a BOUNCER would do with an uncooperative drunk once the hooligan refuses to leave... BUT, But you MIGHT...I said MIGHT be liable for any injury to the ol' fella if he gets hurt. So Use prudence and caution.

If by chance you had to have taken him GENTLY by the arm to escort him out and he swung on you... GAME ON! Assualt in progress and you may use whatever is REASONABLE to defend yourself. If he was frail and hit hit might not even break an egg and you clobber him out cold with a right hook...I'd wager you'd be liable. Someone should have already been calling the cops the moment he refused to leave. A roomful of witnesses saying he swung on you will go far when/if the cops arrive and you're still in a knockdown/dragout with the guy. The *fact* that he's into stump removal would argue he's capable of doing some damage though to someone he hits (hey...when did you last see a 90lb weakling lumberjack?). But then again, you ARE in a church- so somewhere between stern and UNaccepting tolerance with a forcefull admonition could/would do well.

You DID THE RIGHT THING. Filing the report at least starts a paper trail on this toad for the next unfortunate soul that runs into this guy.

But I'm still a little confused; Why/what was he trying to do passing whatever off to a young'in at your church? A bill? Contact info for what?

You can look up Blacks law dictionary on line. Usually a "threat" means that someone is capable of doing what he says he can/will/is going to do; a guy in a wheelchair *threatening* to run your 300lb doorman down with his wheelchair aint all that much of a threat. It usually must consist of a clear and present danger to life and/or limb....... while the same guy threatening to run over your 3 year old IS a threat and the moment he moves towards the child in a a believable & recognizable manner, to a reasonable person, to attempt to do harm then you may DEFEND. The Moment the threat Stops YOU MUST STOP..or YOU will face aggrivated assault charges (think blocking a punch and striking vs. you just laid him out on the floor & he's no more threat & you kick him in the head....that's be assualt).

11-04-2007, 4:50 PM
Okay, I think I get it guys. Thanks for the good words. I was, in no way looking to start something. I don't want to find and excuse. I just take my responsibility for the safety of my students very seriously. Really, I bore the guy no ill will. I really think he was just kind of a nutter. I tried my best to be pleasant and courteous, and I think I managed pretty well.

My concern only elevated after I found out that he had been seen near the home of one of our students. I also forgot to mention that before he was asked to leave I saw him pocket a copy of our calendar of upcoming events. He also seemed to take a particular interest in one of our students(the one he tried to pass the note to when he was asked to leave).

I DO NOT want to see this escalate into something more serious, but if he returns I wil continue to put the safety of those entrusted to me as my highest priority.

I also wanted to mention that after I read my original post I realized that it kind of reads like I think the SO did a poor job. He was very courteous and I was very satisfied by their response. They sent an FTO and a reservist(?), but while we waited for them to arive they sent another unit over to keep an eye on things.

11-04-2007, 4:52 PM
Trespassing is viewed by LE as a "non crime" issue. If you use any force in dealing with trespassers, you will be the loser. You cannot detain anyone, that can become false imprisonment. The only recourse to removing trespassers is to call LE, and hope they will respond within a reasonable time. Nutters acting goofy, even if it is threatening, doesn't seem to get their attention.

We have a large property in my town that was foremerly a resort - now in great disrepair. The owner of that property was trying to remove some teenagers who were trespassing and managed to bang into their pickup truck with his. He is now being charged with assault with a deadly weapon by the DA.

11-04-2007, 6:58 PM
I don’t normally post here, because this forum has become increasingly anti law enforcement, but this is a common question that needs an answer to prevent an unfair view of law enforcement.

A threat, as defined per 422 P.C. requires all of the following elements:
1. The person willfully threatens to commit an unlawful act which would result in death of great bodily injury.
2. The threat is immediate and unconditional (they are threatening to do it right now and are not giving you an out)
3. The person has the ability to carry out the threat
4. The victim of the crime is placed in fear of death of GBI

See below

As far as trespassing it depends on the circumstances, but if the building is open to the public they have generally not committed trespassing until they refuse to leave or have been previously admonished not to come to the location. The other problem with this is that trespassing is a misdemeanor and a police officer can not arrest for it unless it is committed in their presence.

422. Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which
will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with
the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or
by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a
threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out,
which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made,
is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to
convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an
immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes
that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own
safety or for his or her immediate family's safety, shall be punished
by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by
imprisonment in the state prison.

11-04-2007, 7:08 PM
get a video camrea and tape any futher incidents. video tape doesn't lie.

11-04-2007, 7:13 PM
I don’t normally post here, because this forum has become increasingly anti law enforcement, but this is a common question that needs an answer to prevent an unfair view of law enforcement.

thank you for that. And for whatever's it worth- I'm sorry that it seems that way; there ARE a lot of guys here VERY LEO happy & friendly, myself included. All we tend to hear aorund here is the anti stories though and those push buttons..... but many here will also tell you that we do know that 1% *bad apples* DONT represent the rest of the barrel....

But welcome to the forum; GREAT first post!

11-04-2007, 7:56 PM
Lots of good advice...

Thank you for clarifying this for me. I didn't figure my situation this morning warranted any more of a reaction than it was given. What I was curious about was more of a theoretical "when does it cross that line". You have answered that very well. Thanks.

As to the anti-LEO sentiment around here. I have a TON of respect for MOST LEO. My brother was seriously injured in the line of duty and took a disability retirement. He now spends his days helping departments ensure that they don't hire undesireables.

Thank you, again and I hope none of my comments have come off as anti-LEO


11-04-2007, 8:40 PM
thank you for that. And for whatever's it worth- I'm sorry that it seems that way; there ARE a lot of guys here VERY LEO happy & friendly, myself included. All we tend to hear aorund here is the anti stories though and those push buttons..... but many here will also tell you that we do know that 1% *bad apples* DONT represent the rest of the barrel....

But welcome to the forum; GREAT first post!

You calling me a bad apple? :43:

11-04-2007, 8:56 PM
You calling me a bad apple? :43:

HA! Pssssssssst No unless you're going on public record yer' a dirty cop:eek::p but then whatever I say just doen't seem as baaaaaaad as what them boys in IA would be saying;)