Law enforcement

Armed Mansfield Homeowner Confronts Armed Car Thief

Burglar opens fire, escapes police dragnet

An armed homeowner in Mansfield on Monday confronted a car burglar who pulled out his own gun and started shooting.

Mark Hayes was awakened a little before 5 a.m. by an alert from the motion-activated camera atop his garage.

He saw a stranger casing his car.

"I went and picked up my handgun and grabbed my phone," he said Monday afternoon. His wife and three daughters were inside sleeping.

By the time Hayes got outside, the thief was inside his pickup, trying to break into a safe where he keeps another pistol.

"I screamed at him, 'Hey, I caught you. Get out of my truck,’” he said.

The surveillance camera captured the action moment by moment.

"Freeze! Right there buddy! I’m telling you stop!” Hayes yelled.

The thief ran but stopped briefly in a neighbor’s yard, pulled out a pistol, and started shooting.

Hayes, a Navy veteran who is now a computer contractor, ducked behind his car.

One of the bullets nearly hit him in the leg but landed in his car door instead.

"He missed me, but just a few inches,” he said.

Hayes never shot back, worried he might hit a neighbor's house.

Police raced to the scene and launched an all-out search for the shooter.

"Helicopters, the SWAT team, constables, sheriff's department, I mean dozens of law enforcement showed up,” Hayes said.

But after hours of looking, no luck.

Hayes and his family are safe. But he’s still a little rattled by the early-morning wake-up call.

"It's just now starting to set in, the magnitude of him shooting at me, and the whole scenario,” he said. "You don't expect it when you wake up at 5 in the morning. You think there's a raccoon going through your trash and it's a person that's about to shoot at you. It's a little unsettling. A lot unsettling."

Police are investigating whether the same burglar is behind other vehicle break-ins in the area.

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