Cheers, Jeers for Man in Slayings of Burglary Suspects

Ruth Rendon, Houston Chronicle, November 20, 2007

Neighbors of Joe Horn, the Pasadena man in the controversial fatal shootings of two suspected burglars he saw breaking into a neighbor’s house last week, were praising his actions Monday.

At the same time, civil rights activist Quanell X staged a protest outside the home, calling on authorities to charge Horn, who is white, with murder in the deaths of the black suspects.

Robert Hammons, who lives in the Village Grove East subdivision, went to Timberline Drive on Monday afternoon hoping to see Horn.

“I don’t know him, but I wanted to shake his hand,” Hammons said. “This was a man protecting his neighborhood. I would hope my neighbor would protect my house.”

Wednesday afternoon, Horn, 61, called police after hearing glass breaking at a next-door neighbor’s house. Horn reported seeing two men going into and coming out of the home in the 7400 block of Timberline Drive.

Despite a police dispatcher telling Horn to remain inside, he ventured outside with a shotgun and killed the two men—Miguel Antonio DeJesus, 38, and Diego Ortiz, 30, both of Houston. Horn can be heard on the recorded 911 call telling the dispatcher he intended to confront and kill them.

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Quanell stood in front of Horn’s house Monday and chastised law enforcement and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for not arresting and charging Horn. Quanell said if Horn were black and the two suspects white, Horn would be in jail today.

“Mr. Horn did the right thing by calling 911, but Mr. Horn had no moral right, no legal right, to confront these suspects after being told nine times by the dispatcher not to do so,” Quanell said. Quanell asked that Horn be charged with two counts of murder.

Horn’s neighbors said Quanell was off the mark in suggesting the shootings were race-related. “We’re prejudiced,” neighbor George Johnson said. “We’re prejudiced against thieves.”

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Horn has not been home since the shooting. Aside from two “No Trespassing” signs in the front yard, two vases of flowers were sitting on the front stoop Monday afternoon. Horn’s attorney, Charles Lambright, said Horn’s family has received support and prayers from all over the country.

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[Editor’s Note: A recording and transcript of the 911 call is available here.]

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