Skip to main content

Read & React: 72-Year-Old Man Kills Intruder

According to The (Riverside, Calif.) Press-Enterprise, a 72-year-old Lakeland Village, Calif., man shot and killed an intruder, 51-year-old William Ragsdell, climbing through a window into his residence on October 5.

The homeowner, identified as Jerry Duncan, told a reporter during a phone interview, "He had a flashlight and I told him to get out." When Ragsdell didn't leave, Duncan fired his pistol once.

"I tried to scare him more than shoot him," said Duncan. "He hollered. I thought he ran off. He was just gone out of the window. He made it about 15 feet. The police found him."


Riverside County Sheriff's deputies responded to Duncan's residence in response to a 911 call at about 5 a.m. The call indicated that the resident shot someone breaking into his home. Deputies found Ragsdell with a single gunshot wound; he was declared dead at 6:15 a.m. at Inland Valley Regional Medical Center in Wildomar, Calif.


Duncan was interviewed at the police station, then released following the incident. Duncan said he was awakened by a loud noise and realized the power to his residence was out; it was later determined that the electrical lines had been cut by Ragsdell.

"I made my way by feel downstairs. It was black," Duncan said.

Ragsdell had apparently forced a window-mounted air conditioning unit into the house to gain entry, likely resulting in the loud noise that woke Duncan. Duncan saw that the window was open but realized he had left his cell phone upstairs. He decided not to retrieve his phone because he feared that would give Ragsdell an opportunity to enter the residence. However, Duncan did arm himself with a pistol he had stowed under a cushion.

Duncan explained that someone tried to break in to his residence in a similar manner only days prior, but his wife came into the residence and the intruder ran away. Since that time, Duncan kept his gun readily accessible.


"All I was thinking about was defending myself," said Duncan. "I'm in no shape to fight anybody. I'm 72 years old. ... I'm sorry it happened that way, because I'm sure he's got a family. I feel bad for them."

Without question, Duncan did several things very well, as evidenced by the fact that he was not physically injured as a result of the home invasion. Judging from Duncan's statements, it's clear that his intent was not necessarily to kill Ragsdell, but rather to defend himself.

While the story doesn't reference Ragsdell being armed, he is 20 years younger than Duncan. Therefore, it would seem reasonable that Ragsdell would have a distinct advantage over Duncan in a physical confrontation. In some cases, this "disparity of force" would make it justifiable for the defender to use a weapon against an unarmed assailant.


While it admittedly worked quite well for Duncan, keeping a gun under a cushion obviously presents its own set of problems. Not only could this prove tragic in the event a child found the gun, but who's to say an intruder wouldn't find it?

The notion that Duncan fired his pistol without necessarily intending to shoot the intruder is concerning. In most cases, firing a "warning shot" does more harm than good. We need to be accountable for every round we fire. A hastily fired shot intended to miss the intruder could potentially endanger neighbors or even members of our own household. From a tactical standpoint, firing a warning shot gives the bad guy an opportunity to draw his own weapon.

Don't get me wrong; I'm glad Duncan was armed and successfully defended himself. No one is likely to perform flawlessly under such conditions. I only bring these issues up as food for thought. Please don't assume that my comments are intended to slight this incredibly brave man.

What are your thoughts on this incident?

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket carry, as a method of concealed carry for a defensive firearm, can be a practical option when done right. This is especially true during the colder months when heavy outer garments can obstruct access to a traditional waistline holster. Former U.S. Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzales, president of Trident Concepts, joins G&A contributor Kimberly Heath-Chudwin to discuss guns, training and gear, including Blackhawk's TecGrip holster that can make pocket carry more successful.

Shooting 600 Yards with .300 Blackout

Shooting 600 Yards with .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout cartridge was developed to provide greater effectiveness than a 9mm at short and medium ranges when fired from a short-barreled suppressed firearm. Just because the cartridge wasn't designed to go long doesn't mean Rifles & Optics Editor Tom Beckstrand won't take it there, using a large-format pistol, no less. Armed with SIG Sauer's 9-inch-barreled MCX Virtus Pistol loaded with Black Hills' 125-grain TMK ammunition, Beckstrand attempts to ring steel at 600 yards with help from Hornady's 4DOF ballistic calculator in this segment of “Long Range Tech.”

Benelli Lupo ATR

Benelli Lupo ATR

Quality. Art. Design. History. Precision. Innovation. Family. Passion. Love. These words come to my mind when describing anything Italian, and the same is true for a product bearing the name “Benelli.”

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

At the heart of the rifle is the Model 2020 action which wish designed and built with very tight tolerances thanks to Springfield's technology-driven manufacturing capabilities The stainless steel action features an integral recoil lug, and pairs with a fluted bolt employing dual cocking cams and an enhanced extractor for high pressure loads. The blueprinted and precisely machined action allows Springfield to offer the Model 2020 with .75" MOA accuracy guarantee. Despite being a production rifle, the Model 2020 should rival more expensive custom builds.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a 6.5 PRC - Magnumized 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle

6.5 PRC - Magnumized 6.5 Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand - August 01, 2018

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a "magnumized" 6.5 Creedmoor. It offers...

The one glaring weakness in the .30-­caliber magnum cartridge lineup is best highlighted by examining the requirement around which Hornady designed the .300 PRC; the requirement came from the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). .300 PRC Review Rifle

.300 PRC Review

Tom Beckstrand - March 12, 2019

The one glaring weakness in the .30-­caliber magnum cartridge lineup is best highlighted by...

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick Sweeney compare the visibility of red and green lasers in outdoor, sunny conditions. Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light Accessories

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 24, 2020

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick...

The Winchester .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge is ideally suited for hunting hogs and deer; here's everything you need to know to make it work for you..350 Legend Cartridge: Everything You Need to Know Rifle

.350 Legend Cartridge: Everything You Need to Know

Tom Beckstrand - April 02, 2019

The Winchester .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge is ideally suited for hunting hogs and...

See More Trending Articles

More News

9mm and .380 ACP ammo are hard to find, but .38 Special might be challenging them as the ultimate buy-it-when-you-see-it pandemic ammo purchase. It's worth considering a gun purchase to include .40 S&W police trade-ins or a pistol in .45 to better round out your options if you don't already own handguns in those calibers.Ammo Update: Panic Buying Continues News

Ammo Update: Panic Buying Continues

Brad Fitzpatrick - August 06, 2020

9mm and .380 ACP ammo are hard to find, but .38 Special might be challenging them as the...

It's no secret that the demand for firearms and ammunition have reached record levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the civil unrest in cities around the United States, and the prospect of an anti-gun president on the horizon. As with previous surges in ammunition sales, primers are the current weak link in the supply chain. After interviewing several manufacturers, Guns & Ammo has learned that the lack of primer supply is a part of what's preventing ammunition makers from meeting this unprecedented demand.Great Primer Shortage of 2020 News

Great Primer Shortage of 2020

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 12, 2020

It's no secret that the demand for firearms and ammunition have reached record levels due to...

New York Attorney General sues the National Rifle Association.More Trouble for NRA Industry

More Trouble for NRA

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 06, 2020

New York Attorney General sues the National Rifle Association.

See More News

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now