Police: Angry homeowner points gun at Winthrop student walking on his property

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comFebruary 22, 2014 

John Michael Lefler

— A Rock Hill homeowner angry that college students have used his yard as a shortcut held one of them at gunpoint this week “simply for walking on his property,” according to a police report.

Police were sent to an Ebenezer Avenue Extension home at about 8:15 p.m. Thursday when they received calls about a man pointing a gun at someone, the report states. Police spoke with John Michael Lefler, 35, the homeowner, who authorities said had several bulges under his shirt and on his waistline.

Police searched Lefler and found a pistol on his right hip, another pistol on the small of his back and a third pistol inside his front right waistband, the report states. Together, the guns held 63 rounds of ammunition. Police had gone to Lefler’s home earlier in the night when he complained about college students cutting through his yard.

The victim, a 22-year-old Winthrop University student, used the same path as other students, the report states. That’s when Lefler met him outside with a gun pointed at him. The victim, police said, was unarmed and did not threaten Lefler.

Lefler told police he had been drinking alcohol and smoking pot before he went outside with his guns. Police arrested Lefler, charging him with pointing and presenting a firearm. He was released from jail Friday on a $5,000 bond.

The student was not charged with trespassing, according to the report and public records.

Police typically warn people found on another’s property, said Executive Officer Mark Bollinger with the Rock Hill Police Department. If the suspects ignore police warnings and are found on the property again, trespassing charges can be filed.

Strangers who walk onto another’s property when there are signs clearly indicating “no trespassing” can also face charges, he said. Lefler’s yard does not have any of those signs posted. Efforts to reach him Friday were unsuccessful.

“Everyone does have the right to protect their person or property,” said Willy Thompson, deputy 16th Circuit solicitor, adding that how much force can be used to do that “depends on the circumstances.”

Those circumstances might include whether the incident happened during the day or at night, or if there was a perceived threat. If an intruder is told to leave but refuses, “you have the right to forcefully eject them.”

 

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