DIXIE INN, La. — A retired Texas judge with a lifetime in law enforcement says he interrupted a copper theft and held two men at gunpoint until Webster Parish deputies arrived.
Ralph Yarborough, 73, told the Minden Press-Herald that his neighbor called to tell him that a vehicle had dropped off two men at the vacant house where his wife was born. He said he got a gun and sneaked into the house, heard people in the attic and yelled for them to come down.
The two men did not immediately obey Yarborough's command, which prompted another demand that they exit the attic, where they had been stripping copper wiring. This time, he added if they didn't comply, he would start shooting holes in the ceiling.
After the men exited the attic, Yarborough took them outside at gunpoint and, in a prearranged plan with his neighbor, Dennis Laborde, fired a shot to signal he needed assistance.
"I kept a distance of eight to 10 feet," said Yarborough. "They were both armed with knives."
Laborde called 911 and arrived shortly afterward, also armed. Within minutes, Webster Parish Capt. Don Smith and deputies Chuck Clark and Dillard Sikes arrived.
The Webster Parish Sheriff's Office said Steven Aron Studdard, 18, of Princeton and Scott Allen Shockley, 31, of Dixie Inn were booked Friday with simple burglary.
Yarborough said if Studdard or Shockley had made a move, he would have shot them.
"Federal law says if you are in fear for your life, you have the right to use deadly force," said Yarborough, who recently underwent back surgery. "If you find someone, a burglar, in your home, you better be in fear for your life. You've got to be willing to face death when you go into a situation like this."
This is not the first time the veteran law enforcement officer has interrupted a theft.
"When I lived in Texas, a neighbor called me and said someone was stealing his boat," said Yarborough. "I went down to the lake and fired a warning shot and stopped them. They stayed there in the cold water until officers got there."
Yarborough became a certified deputy sheriff in 1956 and helped establish the Dallas County, Texas Crime Scene Investigation Department.
"I've worked many crime scenes like CSI (television show)," said Yarborough. "We didn't have all of the equipment they have now. A lot of things have changed, but human nature is still the same."
After working in Dallas County, Yarborough took a job with the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. He later served two terms as a justice court judge in Henderson County, Texas, and a municipal judge in Tool, Texas.
Yarborough and his wife, Ida, returned to Webster Parish four years ago and established their home on her family's land. The home the intruders targeted belonged to Ida Yarborough's parents.
"My wife was born in the northwest bedroom of that house," said Yarborough. "That house now belongs to Ida's two sisters, and we act as the caretakers. I know it's an old home and nobody lives there, but that doesn't give anybody the right to go in there and tear the copper wiring out."
Information from: Minden Press-Herald, http://www.press-herald.com/
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.