Ind: Armed Homeowner shoots home invaders

March 1st, 2012

EVANSVILLE During his deployment to Iraq with the Indiana National Guard, Travis Coulter started each day thinking he might have to use his weapon in a life-and-death situation.

Despite risky convoys and the threat of insurgent attacks, it never came to that in the war zone.

But back home in Evansville, the 21-year-old Coulter found himself having to fire a gun on Wednesday morning when two intruders burst into his East Side home and started attacking his roommate.

Police believe it was a robbery attempt.

“We were over there for 10 months, and I never had to shoot anybody,” Coulter said of his Iraq experience.

“I’m back here for four months, and I had to shoot somebody in my own living room.”

The suspected intruder, Arnett B. Baines, 21, was being treated Wednesday at Deaconess Hospital for a gunshot wound to his leg. His condition was listed as good, although police said he needed surgery and would remain in the hospital for the near future.

A second suspect was tentatively identified by police as Shawn Jackson, a black male about 20 years old with a stocky build. He had not been located Wednesday afternoon, said Evansville Police Department spokesman Steve Green.

The incident happened about 12:45 a.m. at a Harrison Boulevard home in a neighborhood near Green River Road and the Lloyd Expressway.

Coulter said he was home with his girlfriend and his roommate, 21-year-old Alex B. Grisham, when they heard a banging noise coming from the back door.

Before long, Coulter said, two men wearing ski masks burst through the door. Grisham threw Coulter a .22-caliber revolver they kept in the living room and was attacked seconds later by one of the men, who pummeled him in the face. Grisham’s nose was broken in seven places.

Grisham and his attacker separated a moment later, and Coulter took aim and fired, hitting the intruder once in the leg. Both he and the accomplice fled.

“I don’t know what was going through my head,” Coulter said.

“Just get those guys out of there or stop them from whatever they were doing. It was clear their intentions were to harm us or rob us.”

The man who was shot, identified by police as Baines, was found almost immediately after police arrived when they heard him screaming from behind a privacy fence behind the residence, Coulter said.

Once he saw him without the ski mask, Coulter said, he recognized Baines as a “friend of a friend” who had been over to the house a couple of times.

He said he still doesn’t know what motivated the break-in.

“We were in the wrong place at the wrong time and knew the wrong people,” Coulter said.

It marked the second time a group of intruders tried to break into the same house this year. In January, three people attempted to force their way inside, firing two shots when the residents resisted them.

Coulter did not live there at the time, although his roommates did. No one was arrested in that case, and Coulter suspects there may be a connection between the two incidents.

The case Wednesday also marked the second home invasion robbery attempt that morning in Evansville.

Authorities also were investigating an incident shortly after midnight at 756 E. Columbia St., where a man kicked in a side door, pointed a gun at a resident and asked where the money was.

The robber fled when he heard the woman’s dog, police said.

Green said it was unclear whether there was a connection between the two cases Wednesday morning.

Reflecting on the incident that happened at his house, Coulter said he plans to “keep a gun handy” whenever he’s home.

He credited his experience with the National Guard with keeping him calm during the incident and with helping him deal with the stress. But he said being in Iraq never prepared him for anything like what happened.

“We trained gaining entry into other houses,” he said. “But we never trained for anybody breaking into ours.”

The Second Amendment IS Homeland Security !