Firefighter won’t be charged in fatal shooting

Police say he was defending his life

by Tori Hamby

The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office said that a Mountain Island homeowner who shot and killed a man he caught trying to steal his trailer acted in self defense. Police have not released the name of the homeowner.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, James David Lambert, 41, died Dec. 12 after being shot in the head. Earlier that night, a homeowner, who is a Charlotte firefighter, said he spotted Lambert and another man trying to steal a trailer on his property. The homeowner confronted him and Lambert fled in his truck with the homeowner in hot pursuit.

At the intersection of Lawing School Road and Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road, the homeowner got out of his car to keep Lambert from going anywhere. Police were on their way and the homeowner was trying to keep the thief from going anywhere, but Lambert, police said, tried to ram the homeowner with his truck. The man shot and killed Lambert as he sped toward him, police said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg detectives spoke with the homeowner and conducted an investigation and the district attorney’s office decided it would not seek any charges against the homeowner.

“Evidence gathered indicated that Lambert accelerate his vehicle in the direction of the property owner presenting a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm to the property owner,” police said in a statement.

Lambert died shortly after being taken to Carolinas Medical Center, while the firefighter and second suspect were taken to police headquarters.

The Mountain Island Monitor’s news partner WBTV, reported that a new law, the Castle Doctrine, may have helped the firefighter avoid charges. The recently enacted law offers property owners protection from prosecution when they use deadly force to save their lives.

Gun store owner Larry Hyatt told WBTV that he believes the law helps the average person.

“For the first I remember, it’s giving the good citizen an edge over the criminal,” he said.

“Today, if you do have to protect your family or your life, you have a better chance of not being prosecuted then you did just a month ago.”

According to court records, Lambert’s extensive criminal record including multiple breaking and entering convictions, as well as conviction for taking indecent liberties with a child. He spent three years in state prison between 2003 and 2006.

Police have not released the identity of the second suspect or any charges he might face.

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