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Ceiling fan at center of three-man battle in Soldotna

Megan Holland

Daniel Ames reckons he dealt one for the good guys on Saturday night near Soldotna when he came home, found two burglars in his house, wrestled with them over a pistol, then took them down, telling them he was going to blow off their knees if they didn't start following his orders.

One of the two 21-year-olds charged with the burglary turned out to be Ames' next-door neighbor, according to a report from the Alaska State Troopers. The young man registered a blood alcohol content of .418, which is more than five times the legal limit to drive.

Ames called the young men bandits.

The 49-year-old construction worker was returning home from work on Saturday around 9 p.m. when a neighbor told him some kids were wandering around near his home, which was being remodeled.

He rushed home to find his neighbor, Chance Tallman, and Joshua Simons trying to walk out of his house with a $125 ceiling fan, he said.

Ames said he wasn't going to let those guys get away with burglary.

"What are you two buttheads doing in my house?" he said.

To that, apparently, one of the young men said, "Who are you calling buttheads?" and began to pull out a Glock pistol.

Ames grabbed for it and began wrestling, thrashing Tallman's hand against wall studs to loosen his grip. The gun broke loose and then, according to Ames, the men looked ready to carry on with their fists. That's when he pulled out his own concealed weapon, also a Glock. He shot into the ground to let the burglars know he was serious, he said.

He told the men to get down on their knees. If they didn't, he was going to blow off their kneecaps.

He had them. Drama over. Good guy wins. Or so he says.

Tallman told troopers a different story. He was merely trespassing, picked up the fan to admire it, thinking his mother would like it, and then Ames barged in the door, put him in a chokehold, then recklessly shot the gun into the floor.

As for the Glock, that was his mother's, Tallman told the troopers. She showed up on the scene afterward and confirmed it was hers, troopers said.

Simons admitted to troopers that he was trespassing but said he was only admiring the construction work.

Troopers charged Tallman with burglary, theft, assault and misconduct with a weapon. Simons faces burglary and theft charges.

Trooper Sgt. James Truesdell, who investigated the case, said that when he arrived Ames had both men on the ground in the front yard. A Glock 23 was on the ground with a round in the chamber. Ames told the trooper that he had taken the pistol from Tallman, Truesdell wrote in his report.

The trooper said he didn't charge Ames with any crime but that the district attorney may feel differently after reading the report. When asked what he meant, he read Alaska statutes on what constitutes legal defense of life and property.

Alaska statutes say that anyone can use deadly force in their own home in defense of life or property, but the fact that the house being invaded wasn't being lived in because of the remodeling puts Ames into a legal gray territory. And, was he using deadly force or non-deadly force?

The law says there is a duty to retreat if the person can avoid the deadly circumstances. A person doesn't have that duty, though, when it's his home or he owns the property.

A person can use non-deadly force when defending property, the law says.

Find Megan Holland online at adn.com/contact/mholland or call 257-4343.


By MEGAN HOLLAND
mholland@adn.com