The Self Defense Shooting of Joel LaFromboise and his Father’s Response

Published by the LearnAboutGuns.com Author on January 1, 2010 at 12:01 am
LearnAboutGuns.com > Pro Gun Rights Articles > The Self Defense Shooting of Joel LaFromboise and his Father’s Response

Police in Moorhead, MN recently finished their investigation of a June, 2009 self defense shooting.  This lengthy investigation concluded that the citizen who fired in self defense was justified in doing so.  The details of that self defense case, comments made by the father of the dead home invader, and my thoughts are below:

The self defense shooting Joel LaFromboise

Based upon the many news reports which covered this self defense shooting, the facts can be summarized as follows:   Joel LaFromboise was a 17 year old whose MySpace page is said to have contained gang signs and indicated that he used hallucinogenic drugs.  On June 20, 2009, a drunken LaFromboise reportedly began entering random apartments without permission.  The third apartment that LaFromboise entered belonged to Vernon Allen, a man who didn’t know LaFromboise, police say.  Allen, who had been watching TV, is said to have first asked LaFromboise what he was doing, and after noticing that LaFromboise was intoxicated, asked if he needed some sort of help.  In response, LaFromboise twice tried to punch Allen, at which point Allen grabbed a shotgun and demanded that LaFromboise leave his apartment, according to police.  LaFromboise then reportedly grabbed the shotgun’s barrel, and a struggle ensued.  Allen is said to have shot LaFromboise once in the chest, saving himself from the violent attack.  LaFromboise then staggered back to his parents’ apartment where he died, according to police.  After months of investigation and forensic testing, authorities reportedly concluded that the evidence supported Allen’s self defense claim, and that Allen would face no charges.

The comments made by Ralph LaFromboise (Joel LaFromboise’s father), and my responses

“[The self defense shooter should be] Arrested and charged with something. . .”

In order for a person to be properly arrested and charged with a crime, there needs to be some violation of the law. When Allen shot LaFromboise in self defense, there was no such violation of the law, since each person has the legal (and moral) right to defend themselves against a violent home invader.  Indeed, it appears that Allen showed more restraint that the law required when he gave LaFromboise multiple chances to stop the violent attack and leave, then fired only one shot when LaFromboise refused and tried to grab his gun. The fact that LaFromboise’s father wishes his son hadn’t been shot in self defense doesn’t change the fact that Allen has broken no laws, and should therefore face no charges.

“[Ralph LaFromboise, Joel LaFromboise’s father, states that] Joel was just a teenager”

A 17 year old male is not “just a teenager.”  Instead, such an individual is at or near the peak of his physical strength, and is less than one year away from the age of majority.  When violent, a 17 year old male can pose an even graver threat than most adults, due to his physical strength and quick reflexes.  One need only pick up a newspaper to see that 17 year olds, and even younger individuals, can and do commit violent crimes that leave their victims dead or seriously injured.  As such, the fact that LaFromboise was 17 in no way negates the propriety of Allen’s self defense actions.

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Even if, just for the sake of argument, the fact that LaFromboise was 17 actually mattered, it is not reasonable to expect Allen to know LaFromboise’s age.  Instead, Allen went from watching TV to being attacked by a stranger in just a matter of seconds.  Allen simply wouldn’t have had time to assess the age of a violent and drunken attacker, while trying to dodge punches. Nor would it be reasonable to expect Allen to endanger his own life to try and preserve the life of his attacker, even if Allen knew LaFromboise was 17.

Moreover, self defense is about the victim’s right to save themselves from an unwarranted and violent attack.  As such, the specifics of the attacker (e.g. exact age, tragic upbringing, etc.) tend to be irrelevant.

“Why did he have to bring a gun out?”

Vernon Allen, the self defense shooter in this case, answered that question quite well, according to a newspaper quote.  Discussing the self defense shooting, Allen reportedly said “. . . because I’d rather have it be him than me.”  In other words, Allen was in reasonable fear for his life after a drunken LaFromboise broke in to his home, repeatedly punched him, and refused to leave.  As such, Allen had every right to fire in self defense.

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The real question that should be asked here is why did LaFromboise choose to invade three homes and become violent, all while illegally consuming alcohol.

[LaFromboise’s father] says the self defense law, that freed Allen, needs to be changed and that there’s no justifiable reason for taking someone’s life.

Self defense is a basic human right which has existed since time immemorial, and can be traced to the basic self preservation instinct that is hardwired into humans, other animals, and even plants.  Turning to modern law, every state in the country recognizes the right to use deadly force in self defense, and some states even allow the use of deadly force to protect one’s property.  Nation wide, a trend towards greater self defense rights can be seen, with more states adopting castle doctrine and stand your ground laws.  The US Supreme Court has also weighed in on the matter, stating that part of the Second Amendment’s purpose is to enable armed self defense.  Indeed, even peace advocates such as Pope John Paul II, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama have all endorsed the right to self defense.  In sum, human instinct, the legal system, and even individuals respected for their endorsement of peace all recognize that self defense is a basic right.  Against that weight of authority, it appears that Ralph LaFromboise’s opinion on the matter of self defense is as incorrect as it is irrelevant.

“I think there’s different measures you can take, instead of shooting to kill somebody. You could shoot to wound them, there’s other ways of going about things.”

The only way to reliably stop a violent human right away – before they can inflict further harm – is to disrupt the brain, spine, heart, or certain other vital organs. Even severe bullet wounds to the lung(s) generally won’t stop an attacker right away, because there is enough oxygen in the blood stream that they can keep up their attack for about 30 seconds.  Inflicting pain upon the attacker is just not a reliable means of stopping the attack, due to adrenaline rushing through the attacker’s bloodstream, the attacker’s own self-preservation instincts, and/or drugs in the attacker’s system that mitigate the effects of pain. This means that shooting only to wound is virtually never appropriate, since such a shot won’t reliably stop the criminal from continuing their attack. Also, under the stress of being attacked, it is much more difficult to aim for a leg or arm than for center body mass.

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In sum, expecting a crime victim to shoot to wound is tantamount to asking them to endanger their own life to save the life of the criminal who is attacking them.  That very idea turns logic on its head, and creates a situation where the violent attacker is favored over their innocent victim.

Finally, note that any gunshot can be fatal, due to blood loss or infection. It is therefore impossible to truly shoot only to wound.

“I don’t think I could look the man in the face that killed my son. There’s too much anger.”

I’m unclear as to the reason why this anger is directed at Allen.  To recap, Allen was in his own home watching television when LaFromboise entered without permission.  Allen asked LaFromboise if he needed help, only to have LaFromboise launch an unprovoked attack.  Allen then gave LaFromboise multiple changes to leave, and only fired when he feared LaFromboise posed a deadly threat.  Allen is the person who was wronged – not Joel LaFromboise or his father.  Fault for Joel LaFromboise’s death rests with Joel LaFromboise himself, not his victim.  As such, if Ralph LaFromboise is going to be angry with anyone, it should be with Joel LaFromboise.

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  • Anthony K

    All criminals says they are not guilty and so do their family. You always hear he was such a good boy. They just don’t want to admit their son was a gang banger. Mr. Allen did just what anyone of us would have done.

  • Cory

    Mr. Allen displayed a remarkable degree of restraint. I commend his self control. Joel's father does not want to direct his anger at his dead son, so he blames the most convenient person that he can rag on. I find it pathetic that the media gives these "grieving parents" a soapbox from which they can shout anti-self defense rhetoric. I'd like to see some more honorable parents say, "I understand why you shot." I'd also like to see some shame from the parents that raised a street hoodlum. Maybe someone should say, "I'm sorry he turned out this way."

    But this, what is this? "No justifiable reason to take someone's life," in what world does this man live?

  • http://Mzlilspen@myspace.com Symone-Marie

    Um, I actually knew Joel (unlike any of you all making those rude and insensitive comments; where's you respect for the deceased!) and he was a very good kid who would…do something silly [every Blue Moon] like but bad things on his MySpace page. However, that doesn't meant anyone has the right to shoot him. Now seriously now guys let's calmly go over everything: Alright, evidence and Mr.Allen's statement suggest that Joel was more than a little buzzed and that he was staggering around from apartment to apartment [How come anyone else didn't bother to call the cops and say "A drunk dude just strolled in my house" or get him some help which sounds like he needed] and Mr.Allen supposedly had time to get punched in the face and grab a shotgun, but no time to grab a phone and once more call the POLICE! I'd like to know did Mr.Allen ever call to say what he just did to Joel or did his mother or sister have to when he just happened to 'stagger' on home &they opened their door and find Joel with blood just gushing from his chest. How would you feel if that was you child?; Oh,wait nothing because people like you don't even have a heart that allows you to feel for anyone other than your self! You people are judging him for not a damned good reason at all, he was like my big brother, he had a heart of gold and everything and anything that's better that is better than gold; And you all wanna talk and say he is a "street hoodlum and Gang banger" He was areal beautiful person and he steered me away from bad things like drugs and gangs. Do you guys even know what the hell your talking about?; Or, do all of you just pulling shit from out of your asses to justify that terrible old man did, while he won't apologize for the loss all he wants to do is brag on the news. Also, You pathetic people when on MySpace? Come on now, it's a rigged game. It's make me sick how a bunch of [hopefully] well educated adults can sit around and talk shit about a kid. I now I'm a little late on this but I just got really tired of people running their trapps about a real decent person they don't even know! THIS GOES OUT TO MR.ALLEN, THE MOORHEAD POLICE DEPARTMENT, AND ALL THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAD THE ORDASITY TO SIT ON THEIR ASS AND TALK WHEN THEY NEVER EVEN HAD THE BLESSING TO COME WITH JOEL'S HANDSOME FACE…NOT EVEN ON MYSPACE|!.!|R.I.P JOEL LAFROMBOISE YOU ALWAYS LOVED AND NEVER FORGOTTEN, TE AMO BIGBROP.S PUT IN A GOOD WORD 4 ME OKAY|!.!|

    • hicusdicus

      Horse Hockey! The poor sweet little darling, beautiful young man who would give you the shirt off his back apparently scared somebody so thoroughly that they thought he needed killing. I applaud the person who had the courage to rid the world of a potential violent criminal instead of hiding in his closet.

    • Robert

      He was not a "very good kid", he was a violent criminal, he became one when he broke into a mans house and attacked him.

      Mr. Allen has nothing to appologize for. After being attacked Mr. LaFromboise's victem grabbed a shotgun and told him to leave. Instead of leaving he attempted to take away the weapon. After already being attacked in his home Mr. Allen likely assumed that his attacker was going to use the weapon on him, so he shot his attacker.

      The person responsable for Mr. LaFromboise's death and the pain caused to his family and friends is himself. He was given many chances to leave and instead he chose to attack an innocent man in his own home.

    • http://yahoo.com JoeDirt

      How would Mr. Allen call Joel's parents? The article clearly states he didn't know Joel. Look, I'm not going to sit here and say Joel was a sinner, or a saint. I didn't know him. The FACT is this: that fateful night, HE did something very stupid, and very dangerous, and it cost him his life. As for Mr. Allen grabbing his shotgun first? Guess what? The shotgun can protect you HERE and NOW. The police will get there when they get there. I'd go for my gun first, too. MR. ALLEN DID NOTHING WRONG. The law has stated as much. I regret that you lost your friend, but HE FORCED Mr. Allen to kill him.

  • http://Mzlilspen@myspace.com Symone-Marie

    People, people come on if he was intoxicated, as everyone claims Mr.Allen should had called the police first; and of course Joel would've tried to take away the weapon he's drunk I get why he'd just still be standing there after being asked to leave and I know he didn't break in, because that' not what the police first said. I don't understand how you all can see only a one-sided view of the issue; I see both side like…Joel shouldn't even had been drinking in the 1st place but all of this would've been avoided if one of those other people who had claimed to have had their homes "broken into" called the police and he wasn't violent with all the others; one woman actually said that Joel gave her money and then left, so I'm just not understanding how all of a sudden he's passin' out 20 bucks then he's trying to attack an old man. Stop making excuses for Mr.Allen he is a well over grown man and knows right from wrong. Oh, and before I forget it was mentioned that Joel would give the shirt off his back, well he did (I got ambushed with water balloons). Alright, if we all go on believing every word Mr.Allen had said that happened that night and if he's telling the honest to GOD truth than what's stopping him from saying something to Joel's mother like "I am sorry for your lost I wasn't trying to hurt your son, I just felt I was in danger and so I protected myself."? He should've said something maybe not to Joel's father but to his mother I mean like she lost her kid; and I am just a kid but I know if I was a mother and I had just lost my son I'd probably feel really messed up and it would help if the person who shot my son could something other than "Hehehe, either him or me"; And that just showed Mr.Allen being kind of insensitive to a grieving family who came one of the worst cities so something like this wouldn't happen,and Mr.Allen…he's still here all he has to make sure he does is lock his doors!

    • http://yahoo.com JoeDirt

      Why should Mr. Allen apologize? He did NOTHING wrong. Look, kids go wrong all the time, and I don't fault the parents, but come on. Should Mr. Allen have interviewed the guy? Played 20 questions with an intoxicated subject illegally in his apartment? Rest assured, if a stranger is in my house, attempting to punch me, I HAVE to assume he has the worst intentions, and I WILL defend myself. And the fact that cast blame in the incident on Mr. Allen for not locking his doors proves, as you stated, you are just a kid. By your reasoning, my wife should reasonably expect to be raped because she is wearing a skirt, and therefore she asked for it. If she just would have worn a chastity belt…Do yourself a favor, kid, go live a little, in the real world, on your own, and re-evaluate your opinion on this.

  • http://yahoo.com JoeDirt

    It's funny to read his fathers comments. Why did the gun owner do this? Why did he do that? The real question is: Why was your son illegally in that guy's apartment in the middle of the night? It's tragic all the way around, but that guy did nothing wrong.

  • sylvia

    amazing, the blame is actually his

    parents. where was the father that

    night–maybe at work unaware of

    where his son was. he should have

    been at home doing schoolwork or

    chores or how about a job. my daughter is eighteen goes to school,

    works as a dance teacher and works

    another job. truly the fault is lies

    with the parents. why was he drinking

    in the first place and where did

    he get it. probaly dad's beer!!!!