Trucker charged with aggravated assault for shooting would-be tire vandal

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 10/24/2013

A truck driver from Houston is facing a felony charge of aggravated assault after opening fire on a man he believed to be attempting to slash his tires.

Douglas Saint-Louis, 51, of Houston, was arrested Tuesday night by the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, after a witness heard gunshots and called police. The victim, a 58 year-old male, was shot in the buttocks. He was listed in good condition on Wednesday.

According to the sheriff’s office, Saint-Louis told authorities he was sleeping in the cab of his truck because his tires had been slashed the previous evening. He was parked on a side street approximately four miles from his home.

Saint-Louis’ 2009 Freightliner was at the intersection of West Little York Road and Langham Way Drive, a four-way intersection next to a residential area on the outskirts of Houston, according to sheriff’s department spokesman Thomas Gilliland.

Gilliland said Saint-Louis told police he planned to stay the night in the cab of his truck, after a tire was flattened the previous night. He also reportedly told police he observed the victim near his tires when he went to confront him.

Gilliland said Saint-Louis is a Texas Concealed Handgun License holder, and he approached the victim with a .380 Ruger pistol. The man near the tires fled, and Saint-Louis reportedly gave chase for about 100 feet, firing a warning shot in the air, and then firing a second shot that struck the victim in the posterior.

When the man fled and Saint-Louis pursued, he went from potential victim to suspect in the eyes of the law.

“He as a CHL holder has to comply by all the rules of carrying the weapon,” Gilliland said. “And warning shots or reckless discharges of a weapon in an area is when it’s not tolerated. Because that projectile goes somewhere. It could hit a car, it could hit a house, it could hit somebody else. And again, when he confronted the male at the very beginning (the victim) had no weapon on him.”

 Gilliland said a pocket knife was found in the victim’s pocket, but it was not in his hand at the time of the shooting. He also said police found no damage to Saint-Louis tires on the night of the shooting.

“At the point when (the victim) ran, he disengaged from the incident, but with Mr. Saint-Louis running and chasing him down, and firing the warning shot and then shooting, he essentially became the complainant,” he said.

Gary Benefield is a firearms instructor and trainer who works with truck drivers and the transportation industry on personal protection and cargo security. He said the incident is a good training example for drivers.

He said even drivers who have a concealed-carry permit should always remember that using a firearm is “a last resort.”

Benefield said that when a weapon is used, there are “specific thresholds” that must be considered for the use to be justified, such as the fear of great bodily harm or death. He said many conceal-and-carry instructors would advise students not to use their weapons in the case of vandalism, or other misdemeanor where there is an absence of threat to the owner’s life or threat of great bodily injury.

“If they’re flattening your tire, I understand tires are expensive, but it’s not a felony,” he said. “There were things the truck driver could have done and should have done. But probably shooting is the last thing he should have done.”

Benefield said even in jurisdictions where there are “castle laws” protecting private property, the nature of vandalism might not rise to the level to justify the use of deadly force.

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