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crazy gun loving neighbor
May 26, 2014 8:28 AM   Subscribe

My neighbor is crazy, owns guns, has tried to kill himself, and hates me.

Asking for a friend:

My condo shares a courtyard with another condo owned by an older gentleman, T. FYI, I'm a petite 30ish woman. T has known dementia issues. I've lived there for almost a year and he asks my name weekly and welcomes me to the complex constantly.

My issue with him is his increasingly hostile and bizarre behavior. He has twice knocked on my door at strange hours and tried to push his way in under the guise of being "neighborly". He sits on his patio at all hours and drinks beers, and a few times I've left for work and have found empty bottles of his favorite beer on my patio. He mumbles things about me when I come home from work. I've had to call the police non emergency line for noise complaints because of his blaring music at 2am and the police told him who turned him in (thanks guys) so now he really hates me. One time he left his keys in his car and the car running for 5 hours until someone went and reminded him.

A few days ago, he took a flying leap off his balconey and survived with a broken ankle and sore back. Apparently he told another neighbor that he wants to kill himself. He said he might go jump off the interstate. Or, he'd call the police over and then get into a shootout with them. I know that when the police and ambulance were called, there was a mention of guns being in his home.

Between the recent apartment shooting in CA, this guy's craziness, and his obvious dislike of me I'm nervous. We've been in contact with his adult son who acknowledges thst there's a problem but doesn't seem to do much. He said he probably shouldn't live alone, but that he's too aggressive to live with his own family. So, help?
posted by cirrostratus to Human Relations (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sounds like the police screwed up on their first at-bat involving you; I'd start with the police chief and maybe your city council person and/or mayor depending on the size of the community. Is the condo part of a HOA or the like that might provide any ideas?

Obviously he needs mental health help, which it sounds like his son is ducking responsibility on.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:32 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


If it's a rental, move.
posted by rdr at 8:37 AM on May 26 [15 favorites]


Assuming that you don't live in some huge urban area where the police aren't responsive to anything other than outright catastrophes, you should have a chat with a higher up at the police department about this. Let them know that they have put you in danger by telling this man who made the noise complaint. Make certain they understand that your expectation is that they will NOT do this again in the future. And then, call them every.single.time your neighbor does anything that is: 1. against the law or 2. endangers himself or 3. endangers others or 4. disturbs the peace in any manner. Log all of your calls. Follow up each call to the police with a call to the individual's son.

Get a chain lock on your door, make sure your patio door is secured and locked, keep some pepper spray in a handy location inside your condo.
posted by HuronBob at 8:48 AM on May 26 [10 favorites]


OK, well I'm not American, so I have some pretty whacky ideas like "Surely if someone has dementia or is known to be a danger to themselves, this results in revoking a gun license." Is there any way to pursue that angle with law enforcement? I mean forget that you're a possible target, but just call up some authority on this issue and say "I'm concerned that my suicidal and demntia-suffering neighbour has guns." Even if you weren't afraid of being personally targeted, that seems like the good citizen thing to do.

Also, move.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:51 AM on May 26 [12 favorites]


I read that as "It's a rental movie" (before HuronBob & others slipped in)and it has some qualities of a character in some old movies, because he's a "type" but one which exists in the world. He's lonely and to protect himself from rejection he has a macho shell personality so clearly he doesn't need anyone and if you reject his aggressive friendliness, you're a bitch. In some kind of community people would reach out and help him and he'd be able to accept that kind of help but in the US and much of the world, we are individuals first and communities whose help could be acceptable, second if at all.

Which means, he's a disaster waiting to happen (which is why it works so well as a movie) and people are right to tell you to treat him as such. So, yes, move if you can.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:52 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


I'd contact elder care for your state and see if you can help him get the intervention it sounds like he needs.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:03 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


I'm an attorney with experience handling domestic and harassment issues. My advice is to skip over the police and look for (1) a victim advocacy group in your area, (2) an attorney who can help you free or cheap, or (3) your local prosecutor's office, which almost certainly has a domestic-violence staff and/or a victim advocate.

I don't know where you live, and I'm not your lawyer. However, I can tell you that if a similar, hypothetical situation were occurring in my home jurisdiction, we have a statute that would allow the victim to obtain a protective order. The judge would also have discretion whether to revoke the defendant's firearm permits (and, obviously, firearms). It would take one, maybe two mornings of your time. The nice thing about restraining orders is that they function as a fast-forward into and through our criminal justice early-warning systems. When he disobeys the restraining order (and sometimes they do), the problem is no longer between him and you. Now it's between him and the court. That's not to say you wouldn't still need to participate, but it elevates the problem to a level where it's easier for our system to deal with it.

In my home jurisdiction, although we have the statute I mentioned, I have encountered police departments who are unaware of it. I've encountered police departments who don't know what to do when given a restraining order. And your police department doesn't sound awesome. This is why I say, I would skip right over the police department. In situations like this the police are almost always useful, but not necessarily as your first stop. Sometimes it's better to seek help from the court.

Having said all that, the first rule of self defense is to escape if you can. Leaving the complex doesn't solve the problem of him being a dangerous person, but it solves the problem of your safety. I understand it may not be possible for you to move. But moving is probably more fail-safe than any alternative. Good luck, and be safe.
posted by cribcage at 9:06 AM on May 26 [30 favorites]


Hi everyone, thanks for the responses. Just some more info for you all.

I own my condo so while moving id an option, its a hard one.

My HOA knows what's up, but doesn't know what to do. Apparently his son is trying to get guardianship over him, but its been a rough process. The son has also been harder to get ahold of since the suicide attempt.

I'm in Austin, TX.
posted by cirrostratus at 9:29 AM on May 26


I agree you need a lawyer to help you navigate all of this, like, yesterday.

Consider this part of your homeowner expenses, since you do not have the option to move easily.

That said, you might consider spending nights somewhere safer for the time being. Also put in alarms, (you can get a full set of window and door alarms made by GE for $20 on Amazon) beef up your home security, just do everything possible to keep yourself safe.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 9:38 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Oh, that must be quite scary. I don't know if this is good advice or not, so putting it out there tentatively: would it be a good idea to call the cops when he is trying to push into your house? It seems like that would be trespassing, and if the police show up and take him away would it help him get closer to the mental care he needs and/or the guns taken away?

I do second the advice of leaving for awhile if you can. Even of it is just for your peace of mind.
posted by Vaike at 10:11 AM on May 26


This man has dementia. He is sick. He needs help, not the police. It is incredibly common for older men with Alzheimer's and related diseases to become violent and/or suicidal. You need to contact Adult Protective Services. Here is the number for Austin: (512) 834-3301.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:13 AM on May 26 [25 favorites]


In addition to the other great suggestions here, if you're sticking around and you can afford it, maybe purchase one of those $200-300 DVR-based home security video systems so you can record him acting crazy when it counts, for the sake of evidence later (and a possible deterrent now).

Go over escape plans in your head too. What would you do if he smashed open your front door? What about windows? What are your routes and what do you do to evade him?
posted by Th!nk at 10:19 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


With respect, Lutoslawski, while it's true that the man needs help, the OP needs the police (among other resources). While we need not be insensitive to the elderly man and his situation, our obligation of focus should be towards the woman who is seeking our help to protect herself.

OP, in addition to the other resources, I suggest looking into a motion sensor audible alarm, so you'll know when he's on your patio.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 10:44 AM on May 26 [29 favorites]


If he has threatened to kill himself by jumping off a bridge onto the interstate (which would be a huge danger to other people on the interstate too), or threatened to shoot at police officers when they come over, that seems to merit another call to the police.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:00 AM on May 26 [7 favorites]


With respect, Lutoslawski, while it's true that the man needs help, the OP needs the police (among other resources).

This is probably right. Lutoslawski's observation isn't wrong, but I think his advice is. The reason I underline this is that you, OP, have mentioned several times trying to contact the man's family. I think it's admirable to want to help a fellow human being; but when the problems veer into actual danger-to-himself-or-others territory, then (1) a potential victim's priority should be for her own safety, not helping an active harasser ("tried to push his way in," etc); and (2) people with good intentions but who lack training or resources can easily do as much harm as good. If this man needs assistance from Adult Protective Services, the police or the court can make that call. They have the number.

Without implying that you have done anything wrong, especially because you mention having already sought help from the police, I would say from general experience that the first obstable is the most difficult: prompting the victim to reach out for productive help. I can't tell you how often people in similar situations are willing to confide in friends they trust, but not in professionals who can actually help. This is difficult for the friends, who now feel responsible for providing some type of help they're powerless to give; and it worsens the situation for the victim, who now feels even more powerless because he or she has, they believe, "sought help" and received none.
posted by cribcage at 11:45 AM on May 26 [8 favorites]


There is absolutely no reason you cannot avail of both the police on an as-needed basis and Lutoslawski's Adult Protective Services, who can do more and are better placed to help manage this man's illness. It's Texas; they will have dealt with victims of dementia who are also gun owners before.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:24 PM on May 26 [13 favorites]


Yes, call the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services. This may not be an issue of neglect or abuse, but they are equipped to deal with vulnerable and distressed seniors.
posted by brookeb at 2:50 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


Guys, I don't think Lutoslawski's suggestion was that OP should go easy on her neighbor because he's old and sick. He's obviously going to need to be handled by professionals; if the police are reluctant to do this by themselves, Protective Services will have the resources and paperwork to get that ball rolling in ways that calls from concerned neighbors to the cops won't.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 4:15 PM on May 26


Have a camera system installed. Do this visible and openly, but make sure you are only recording your property (recording his property might freak him out). They have systems that any handy man can install and set up.
posted by Flood at 4:27 PM on May 26


Calling the Adult Services folks seems like a very good idea.

I think the OP's gone above and beyond what most folks would do, bravo. Likewise I think the lawyer's advice here regarding a protective order is absolutely worth pursuing.

Think about it another way, what if your life (the 'you' being the rest of the audience here) traveled down the same road that poor bastard's ended up on? How would you want to be helped?
posted by wkearney99 at 6:23 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


If I were in your situation, I'd move. You really only have a few options, none of them good:

1. Ignore it and hope it goes away.
2. Attempt to get the police to deal with this more seriously.
3. Try to get a restraining order for the threats and hope it doesn't cause him to become more violent.
4. Move.
posted by zug at 6:36 PM on May 26


> "Surely if someone has dementia or is known to be a danger to themselves, this results in revoking a gun license."

That's a non-starter-- there's no requirement of any kind of license to possess guns in your own home, and that's true for most of America, and doubly true in Texas. He's over 21, so he can have any kind of legal gun in his home, period. Other avenues suggested above would be far more fruitful.

That said, OP's friend has the same rights, and should consider exercising them if she is able and willing; Castle Doctrine is written into Texas law, so the use of deadly force to prevent this guy from pushing his way in is protected. I'm sure we all hope it never comes to that, but the option is there.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:10 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


He has twice knocked on my door at strange hours and tried to push his way in under the guise of being "neighborly"
Elevating things above the local PD, whose obvious screw-up in identifying you as the complainant, is a great idea, as cribcage and others suggest.
There's a bit you could do to beef up your physical security too, short of buying a 12 gauge. A solid-core or steel front door with a security stop or brace (as well as a means of seeing who's on the other side of the door before opening it) and security window film for you patio door might run you a few hundred dollars installed, give you time to call 911 and provide some peace of mind until the real problem is rectified.
posted by islander at 7:19 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Think about it another way, what if your life (the 'you' being the rest of the audience here) traveled down the same road that poor bastard's ended up on? How would you want to be helped?

I'd hope that the people around me would prioritize their own safety over the feelings of some stranger.
posted by winna at 7:36 PM on May 26 [3 favorites]


You've had a ton of good answers, but there's one thing I wonder... why on earth are you opening the door so that he has the opportunity to try to push his way in?

If he's pounding on your door at dark-thirty am, that's exactly the time to leave the doors locked and call 911.
posted by stormyteal at 12:02 AM on May 27 [7 favorites]


If he attempted suicide, why was he not hospitalized on a minimum 72-hour hold? You need to work with the neighbor he disclosed his suicidal intent to and get him hospitalized for it.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:33 AM on May 27


That said, OP's friend has the same rights, and should consider exercising them if she is able and willing; Castle Doctrine is written into Texas law, so the use of deadly force to prevent this guy from pushing his way in is protected. I'm sure we all hope it never comes to that, but the option is there.

OP, please do not do this. Arming yourself, especially to a guy in this mental state and/or the possibility you may not be well-trained, will appear to be a threat and an escalation of force, and there's no firm factual basis that this line of action helps things even in normal day-to-day situations. Besides, even in Texas, a person who is considered dangerous to themselves and others (which this man has shown to be) by law enforcement can have their firearms confiscated. Stick with the advice of others here regarding both further efforts with law enforcement as well as organizations that help people under direct threat from others. Maybe see if there's a way to find a motel or hotel you can stay at for a couple days, and call the police again. And definitely hire a lawyer, because you're going to have to get legal assistance one way or another, either for a protective order or for dealing with a police organization that isn't following the law.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:31 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


That's a non-starter-- there's no requirement of any kind of license to possess guns in your own home, and that's true for most of America, and doubly true in Texas. He's over 21, so he can have any kind of legal gun in his home, period.

Look, I'm the gunniest gun person that ever gunned, and this is not entirely true.

What you want to do is post a 30.06 sign, which can be placed on a residential property, barring concealed firearms holders from entering the property. Then put a camera on your front door. If he steps foot onto your land while carrying, and that seems not unlikely for a guy like this, it's a Class A misdemeanor. The sign must state EXACTLY IN THESE WORDS:
"Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by holder of license to carry a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (concealed handgun law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun."
A Class A misdemeanor will take away his carry license.
posted by corb at 6:28 AM on May 29


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