Utah homeowner arrested for shooting at burglars

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Clare Niederhauser, 64, of Layton, Utah was arrested on two counts of reckless endangerment after firing at burglars leaving his home (Photo: Layton Police Department)

Clare Niederhauser, 64, of Layton, Utah was arrested on two counts of reckless endangerment after firing at burglars leaving his home (Photo: Layton Police Department)

Clare Niederhauser, 64, of Layton, Utah was arrested on two counts of reckless endangerment after firing at burglars leaving his home (Photo: Layton Police Department)

Clare Niederhauser, 64, of Layton, Utah was arrested on two counts of reckless endangerment after firing at burglars leaving his home (Photo: Layton Police Department)

LAYTON, Utah – A plea deal has been reached for a homeowner charged with shooting at burglars. It’s the latest in what’s been an emotionally-charged case over homeowners’ rights to defend their property.

”I think it’s very unfair and unfortunate that they charged him in the first place,” Robert Gibby, attorney for 64-year-old Clare Niederhauser, told KTSU.

Police say that last week, the Layton, Utah resident came home to find three burglars — one in his house and two in a car parked on the driveway.

Niederhauser fired shots at the suspects as they fled his property. Police determined that he put others in harm’s way when his own life was never being threatened.

”The law stands that we value life more than their property,” assistant city attorney Steve Garside said. “Obviously if you or someone else is in immediate danger, you are authorized to use force. But simply protecting property, you are not.”

Police say 47-year-old Robert Cruz walked out of Niederhauser’s home holding a crowbar, but dropped it when the homeowner pulled a gun.

Forty-year-old Yolanda Gonzales was behind the wheel of the car in the driveway, police say. Cops arrested her Wednesday night in Salt Lake City. Both face felony burglary charges.

Nierderhauser was being charged with reckless endangerment before a plea deal was reached. Gibby said it was unfortunate that those charges weren’t immediately dropped.

Niederhauser has not responded to KSTU’s requests for interviews.

Critics say Niederhauser acted recklessly and should be stripped of his concealed carry permit. But a woman who works nearby has come to his defense.

“I feel if someone is on your property you can defend yourself with any means possible because it’s trespassing,” Aelia Alvarez said.

Gibby says a plea deal has been reached satisfying both sides. The details about that plea deal were unclear as of Thursday night.

Prosecutors say they could not drop all the charges. They say Niederhauser technically broke the law and will be held accountable, but it’ll likely be a lesser punishment.

If that agreement had not occurred, “you would have seen this (courtroom) standing room only,” Gibby said. “Many people were up in arms about the situation.”

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