Harvey Lembo was fed up. The last straw was last month when a burglar stole thousand dollars and prescription medicine from his apartment.
It happened again late Monday night. Only this time, Lembo woke up. “I had the gun under my pillow. I reached out and I cocked it. And I got in my wheelchair.,” Lembo said.
Lembo confronted the intruder in his home rifling through his pills. He held him at gunpoint. “This is the fifth time I’ve been robbed. And it’s all been about drugs. I’m tired of it. So I went and bought a gun,” Lembo said.
Lembo got the gun on Monday. He never thought he’d have to use it that night. “I screamed at him to stop. And I told him to go sit on the coffee table or I’d blow his brains out. I still had the gun in my hand. And I’m trying to dial 911 with the gun in my hand,” Lembo said.
But the intruder tried to escape. While on the phone, Lembo says the man jumped up and ran. Lembo says he “Tried to run out the back door.”
“And that’s when you shot him?” CBS 13 asked.
Lembo replied: “That’s when I shot him, yes. I shot just like that. Just barely missed the side of the wall. Got him in the shoulder. If he’d have sat there, nothing would have happened. But he wanted to leave. And I’ve had enough of it. I’ve had enough.”
“He had definitely been the victim of numerous burglaries before this. So I can certainly understand the fear he might have had,” Rockland Deputy Police Chief Chistopher Young said.
Lembo saw the bullet hit the intruder’s shoulder. When police arrived, they followed a trail of blood to 45-year-old Christopher Wildhaber of Rockland. After a short struggle, police took him into custody. Wildhaber was treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder and is now behind bars.
Neighbors defended Lembo. “I think he should defend himself, ” neighbor Nina Clark said. Neighbor Timothy Woods is the one who encouraged him to get a gun. “I would do the same damn thing if somebody broke into my house. But they wouldn’t be that lucky being shot in the shoulder. I would have shot him between the eyes,” Woods said.
At 67, Lembo is disabled and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around. Lembo says if anyone else tries to rob him “They’re going to have the same treatment. And one of them might be worse. Might be fatal. Cause I ain’t messing around no more.”
Police have charged Wildhaber with burglary. As for Lembo, it will be up to the district attorney to decide if his use of deadly force was justified.