A Brooklyn man who shot and wounded an intruder while defending his family will spend three days in Rikers Island, the same jail housing the burglar who terrorized his home, because he owns an unregistered gun.
Ronald Dixon, a 27-year-old father of two, caught an intruder rifling through drawers in his son’s room early on Dec. 14.
“I went in. … I looked in his face. I didn’t know this guy; I was so shocked … In a nervous voice I said, ‘What are you doing in my house?’ and he ran toward me yelling, ‘Come upstairs!’ like there were other people with him. I shot him ’cause I thought more people were in the house,” Dixon told the New York Daily News.
Dixon fired two shots from his 9 mm pistol, wounding the suspected burglar in the chest and groin.
“The only thing I could think about was my family – there was no telling what he would do to my children or girlfriend,” he told the paper.
Authorities charged Dixon with illegal possession of a firearm when they discovered his gun was not legally registered in New York, a charge that carries up to a year in prison.
When Dixon proved he had obtained the firearm legally in Florida and tried to register it in New York, the prosecutors agreed to a charge of disorderly conduct.
Dixon pleaded guilty to the disorderly conduct charge, which will allow him to do time without carrying a criminal record. Sentencing is scheduled for June 27, WINS Radio reports.
The intruder turned out to be Ivan Thompson, a career criminal with a 14-page rap sheet. Thompson has been arrested 19 times and been convicted of criminal trespass, burglary and attempted assault. He currently is on parole until 2004 on burglary charges.
“Clearly [Dixon] was justified in shooting this burglar, and the burglar is going to get as much jail time as we can get him,” Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes told the News.
But Hynes will not budge from his tough anti-gun policy.
“If you get caught with a gun in Brooklyn, you’re going to do jail time,” said Hynes, who has held that stance since taking office in 1990, when, he says, “Brooklyn was like Dodge City.”
Dixon’s case has attracted widespread attention and many letters addressed to Hynes, including this anonymous letter, which sums up the feelings of many supporters:
“If you were in the same position that Mr. Dixon was in, I would be willing to wager that you would also use whatever means you had on hand to defend your loved ones, as any of us would.
“By prosecuting Ronald Dixon on spurious charges, you are sending a very dangerous message to the residents in your jurisdiction: Defend your family, go to jail. You are also sending an equally dangerous message to the criminal element, who would realize that law-abiding citizens would now be hesitant to defend themselves for fear of criminal prosecution, and therefore make prime targets for violent crime.”
A Jamaican immigrant, Dixon served in the Navy from 1994 to 1997 in weapons ordnance and holds down two computer-related jobs.
“I work seven days a week. I have been doing it for three years, because I wanted a safe haven for my family,” he told the News.
“I thought the house would give me a safe haven. Now I’m thinking if I didn’t buy this house this never would have happened.”