Daniel McGown was uneasy when he went to bed Monday night — so much so that he slept with a loaded Sig Sauer 9mm handgun under his pillow.

He would need it in the morning.

McGown, 73, a retired business litigation attorney, held a burglary suspect at gunpoint inside his Crosby Street home in Akron's West Hill neighborhood early Tuesday morning until police arrived.

"I pointed the pistol at him and I said, 'If you don't move, I won't shoot you.' And he said, 'Don't shoot me,' " he said about the encounter.

McGown had returned home Monday following several days visiting family to find that someone had used a shovel on the front porch to pry open the front door at the two-story house, ransacking the place and stealing a shotgun, rifle, three handguns, ammunition, two laptops and other items. He reported the burglary to police.

But the burglar or burglars had left several items behind such as televisions — perhaps, he thought, with the intent to return later to get them.

That's why McGown, who usually sleeps in a first-floor bedroom, slept upstairs with the Sig Sauer handgun that wasn't stolen.

Just after 5 a.m. Tuesday, he heard someone ringing his doorbell. He didn't answer.

Then he heard someone enter the home. Gun drawn, McGown came downstairs and found a male suspect standing in his living room. He told the man not to move and ordered him to lie down on the floor and put his hands where McGown could see them.

The suspect tried to give him an explanation of why he was inside the home.

It was then that McGown realized that he had left his cellphone upstairs. So he made the suspect walk in front of him — with a gun pointed at the suspect's back — to the upstairs bedroom where he called police.

As officers were coming up the stairs, McGown said he shouted to them: "I'm going to put this handgun on the floor so nobody gets nervous."

"And the cops laughed," he said.

Thomas Gaffney, 51, of Akron, has been charged with burglary. He is being held at the Summit County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Akron Municipal Court. He has had previous burglary convictions, according to local court records.

Police are investigating whether he had broken into the home earlier, Capt. Dave Laughlin said.

Authorities also are investigating about eight to 10 break-ins at other homes and businesses in the area within the past 1½ months, Laughlin said.

It was the first time that McGown, who said he has a concealed carry permit, pointed a loaded gun at a person. He said he wasn't scared or anxious.

"At the time, I wasn't adrenaline fueled," he said. "At the time, I just wanted him to stay there until the police came. I didn't want to have to do anything other than hold him. And it turns out I didn't."

But McGown, whose home also was burglarized about six years ago, was prepared to shoot.

"If he had reached his hand towards a pocket or something where I thought he might have had one of the guns that went away last night or the night before, I might have been tempted to do that," he said. "But I'm glad it didn't come to that."

Laughlin said police have no across-the-board advice for people when confronted with a burglar. In some cases, it's best to flee or hide and call 911, he said.

"Our goal is to make sure all of our citizens are safe," Laughlin said. "We don’t want to tell people a blanket what you should do because each situation is different."

After police left the scene, McGown went back to bed. Asked how he could sleep after confronting a burglar, he replied with a laugh: "I'm 73 years old, I can sleep almost anytime."

"I didn't view it as taking the law into my own hands," he added. "What I viewed it as — my home was being violated and here was a guy doing it in my presence, here's the guy and I wanted him to stop doing that. Once I made him stop doing that, I had no trouble going to sleep because I had done what I was supposed to do and no more."

Despite being a gun owner, McGown has mixed feelings about people having guns.

"It's great when they have them when they need them in the middle of the night and someone breaks into their house," he said. "It's not so great when they have them and they get angry at somebody they know and use it. ... I don't think you should have them unless you have some extensive experience with them."

 

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.