A 14-year-old Oklahoma honor roll student is recovering after he was shot by a homeowner while playing a dangerous teenage game of ringing door bells as a prank in the early morning hours of New Year’s day. The homeowner was not arrested, but could face charges later.
According to KOTV, the teenager, identified as Cole Peyton of Pryor, Oklahoma, was with friends as the boys were playing the doorbell prank game, which the local police chief, Steve Lemmings, called “ding-dong ditching”. The doorbell prank is a very dangerous game in which teenagers ring a doorbell or knock, then run or hide before someone answers.
The unidentified homeowner reportedly went out to his yard and fired several shots at the boys, striking Peyton in the back and arm, with one bullet puncturing his liver. Peyton, who is on the honor roll, football, and wrestling teams at Pryor High School, is recovering in a local hospital.
Police received a call reporting a home invasion, which would justify a shooting by a homeowner, under Oklahoma’s self-defense laws. The law states that a person who uses defensive force must know or have “reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred”.
However, police report the teens were not trying to break into the shooter’s house. This leaves open the possibility that the homeowner could be arrested. Since he has not yet been charged with a crime, police did not release his name, but said the Mayes County district attorney’s office would review the case.
Though this may not be a “stand your ground” incident, Oklahoma is a stand your ground state. The law says, “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony”.
In a very similar incident in January, 2013, another 14-year-old suffered gunshots to the leg and foot when he was shot after ringing the doorbell of a house in Pennsylvania. The shooter in that case was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.