A student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland armed with a samurai katana killed an intruder in his home earlier today, according to Baltimore police.
Despite what video games and anime might teach impressionable young nerds, swords - albeit cool - aren't the most practical weapons in the world of guns. The phrase "don't bring a knife to a gunfight" exists for a reason, you know. A homeowner looking to make his house into a castle would probably be better off investing in a gun to defend his property and family rather than, say, a claymore.
Yet perhaps swords can be more of a self-defense tool than previously thought - earlier today (Tuesday, September 15th) a student at Johns Hopkins University armed with a sword killed a presumed burglar found in his garage. Two laptops and a PlayStation (I'm assuming it was a PS3, here) had been previously stolen from the house - home to four Johns Hopkins students - the day before, and when the 21-year-old junior chemistry major heard noises and saw the garage door open at approximately 1:20 AM this morning, he went to investigate, bringing with him a katana, reports the Associated Press.
The student confronted the intruder, asked what he was doing, and threatened to call the police. "When he said that, the suspect lunged at him, kind of forced the kid against the wall, and he struck him with the sword," said Baltimore PD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. The suspect's hand was nearly severed, left "hanging by a thread," and he received a wound to the chest that would later prove fatal - the 49-year-old intruder died at the scene.
Though the suspect's name has not yet been released, he reportedly had 29 prior arrests "mostly for burglary and breaking and entering," and had in fact just been released from a year-long prison sentence for stealing a car.
Charges have not yet been filed against the student, and in fact may not be. In Maryland - as in most states - self-defense incidents are judged on a case-by-case basis, even though there is no special invocation of the "Castle Doctrine": "A man's home is his castle." The burglar may not have been armed, but that's really not something that you can afford to think about if you're being attacked: "Hey, this guy doesn't look like he has a weapon. Maybe I should go easy on him."
"One can genuinely and reasonably be in fear of one's own safety even if the burglar is unarmed," said Andrew D. Levy, a Baltimore defense attorney and an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. "But nonetheless, it would be something that a good prosecutor would consider."