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Property owner shoots assailant in self-defense

Originally ran here as:
"Columbia man claims self-defense, shoots man in yard four times "
June 19, 2001,

WISTV -- Richard Patterson, a professional painter who's reproduced the likenesses of such local luminaries as South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice David Harwell, is a homeowner unafraid to confront trouble.

Patterson lives on a three acre wooded lot behind Providence Hospital. Sunday night as he got ready for bed Patterson says he heard a strange noise and then saw a stranger in his yard, "I was, I was scared. I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't."

Patterson says he yelled at the stranger to stop, "He wouldn't stop. He just turned around and fired at me. ... I heard the bullet go by my ear, and so I returned the fire." In the front yard of his home Patterson pulled out his .38 revolver and shot the stranger four times.

It's not the first time for Patterson. On two previous occasions over the last eight years, he shot intruders. Both survived and Patterson has never been charged, because, he says, he's done nothing wrong, "I'm going to obey the law every time I get a chance."

South Carolina law allows for people to use weapons to protect themselves. According to the National Rifle association, every year across the nation between 600,000 and a million people either show or fire a weapon in self defense.

Rick Daniel, president of Gun Owners of South Carolina, says Patterson's case is extreme, but shows the need for gun ownership.

Richard Patterson was handcuffed and taken to the police station Sunday night, but only after he refused to give up his gun. It's not clear if Patterson will be charged with anything or not. Police say they are still investigating this case and trying to determine if the stranger was in fact breaking into homes and if Patterson broke the law somehow.

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KABA NOTE:  The police can investigate all they want to -- if the man was fired upon on his own property, he was within his rights and will not be charged. South Carolina's Attorney General is a pro-self-defense American.