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Pa. Man Shoots Armed Robber Distracted by Dog

by Dylan Polk   |  October 27th, 2012 15

A group of armed robbers were thwarted when Man’s Best Friend distracted one of the thugs long enough for one of the residents to “take care of business” with his .380.

According to The York (Pa.) Dispatch, at about 12:40 a.m. Tuesday, two masked robbers–James Herlth, 20, and Chad Heath Miller, 33–broke into the home of Doug Downs–a 48-year-old Chanceford Township, Pa., resident who is disabled–shooting the lock off the front door to gain entry.

Check out the video from The York Dispatch:

“I had come out of my room because I heard gunshots, and about three-quarters of the way down the hall, I encounter Mr. Miller–the ringleader of the bunch–and he orders me downstairs at gunpoint to open the safe to get money out,” said Downs’ roommate and caretaker, Andy Boyd, 36. “When I opened the safe, he really freaked out because all he saw were a whole bunch of guns. He asked where the money was and I just started throwing (Downs’) antique coins. He realized he wasn’t getting anything of value.”

In the meantime, Herlth had made his way to Downs, who was sitting in his recliner with his 1 1/2-year-old Jack Russell terrier/pug mix, Peaches.

“One of them said, ‘You know, after we get the money, we’re going to kill you,'” said the 48-year-old Downs, who is disabled. “And I thought, ‘I have to do something.'”

Downs said Herlth came toward him, and the two began struggling over Herlth’s gun.

“He told me to let go of his pistol or, he said, ‘I’ll shoot you right here in the chair,'” Downs said.

After Downs let go, he said, Herlth backed off, and that’s when Peaches sprang into action, barking and jumping at the robber, who looked down at the dog long enough for Downs to grab a .380-caliber revolver from his recliner.

Downs fired three shots, hitting Herlth in the neck, chest and hands.

“I thought he must be wearing a bulletproof vest,” Downs said. “So I aimed for his head. … He staggered over to the stairway, his pistol dropped out of his hand and he … slid down the stairs.”

Downstairs, Boyd stayed put while Miller made his way up to see what the commotion was. Downs greeted Miller with another shot, which Downs said failed to stop Miller, who yelled for one of the duo’s accomplices, Robert Dale Young, 26, who while helping get Herlth out, fired a 12-gauge at Downs’ door–hitting Herlth.

The robbers made their way out to their car, where a fourth accomplice, Jacob David Dittenhafer, 24, was waiting. Later, officials at York Hospital alerted authorities, who promptly arrested Miller, Young and Dittenhafer; Herlth remains hospitalized.

According to Downs, this is the fourth time he’s been robbed in just as many years. His home was burglarized twice in 2008, and he was held up at gunpoint in 2009 while walking from his car to his home.

“I’m tired of being held up at gunpoint. I’m tired of my life being threatened,” Downs said. “I don’t keep money at the house at all anymore, and I don’t know why this keeps happening. … I guess people think I still have money in the safe, but I don’t.”

Downs said the burglars made off with roughly $255,000 worth of cash, antique coins, Civil War swords, his mother’s jewelry and other items. Plus, now he and Boyd are faced with damages to the home–including bullet holes and blood on the carpet.

Still, it could have been much worse.


From left: Miller, Dittenhafer and Young.

“I felt bad because I had to shoot (Herlth),” he said. “But it was either him or me, and I wanted to live.”

In the meantime, the quartet has racked up quite a few charges. Miller will be charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and other charges; Young faces charges of robbery, burglary, reckless endangerment and other charges; and Dittenhafer faces charges of conspiracy to commit robbery and other charges. Herlth remains hospitalized, but will face charges of robbery and burglary, among other charges, once released.

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