By Sanne Specht
A house-crashing transient ended up on the ground and facing the business end of an elderly man's .38 Special after barging into two Rogue River homes Saturday evening.
Richard B. Batson, 34, of McKinleyville, Calif., first knocked on the door of Becky Goode's home on Pine Street at about 8:30 p.m. Before Goode could even get to the door, Batson barreled his way inside her residence, locking the dead bolt behind him, she said.
"My heart was pounding," Goode said. "What freaked me out the most was when he reached out and locked the dead bolt. He was saying somebody was trying to kill him. I kept saying, Dude, you need to get out of my house.' "
When Batson headed toward the kitchen, Goode, 48, went out the front door, shouting for a neighbor to help her daughter, who was in her bedroom, while she frantically called police.
"I kept thinking, are there knives out in the kitchen? Does he have a weapon?" she said.
Goode's two large dogs were not pleased with Batson's intrusion. Her Labrador retriever stuck close to Goode, while her daughter's border collie cross shadowed the stranger -- and may have taken a nip out of the unwelcome intruder, she said.
"I'm really proud of my dogs," Goode said, smiling.
Rogue River police Officer Robert Buren arrived on scene and searched Goode's house, but the intruder was gone. Witnesses told Buren that the man had jumped the backyard fence and may have entered a residence on Berglund Street, located directly behind Goode's house, said Chief Ken Lewis.
Buren quickly responded to the second address and found Batson kneeling on the living room floor, held at gunpoint by the homeowner who was armed with a .38 Special revolver, Lewis said.
The homeowners, Roy and Alice Pirnie, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But Lewis said Pirnie acted in self-defense and was within his rights to level his pistol on Batson and detain him until Buren arrived.
"I commend him for defending his wife and his home until the police arrived. He did it calmly and rationally," Lewis said. "This had to be a very frightening situation -- totally unexpectedly somebody invades your home."
Batson was sweating profusely and rambling incoherently, Lewis said. The Pirnies told police that Batson had barged into their home through the back door, shouting that "people were after him and were going to kill him," Lewis said.
Batson's fear for his life added to the danger, Lewis said.
"He was genuinely in fear. That alone creates a potentially dangerous situation," Lewis said.
Goode said she thinks Batson was either "strung out" on drugs or had suffered a psychotic break.
Lewis said he has seen "an uptick in crimes of drug desperation" in recent months.
Batson eventually told Buren he had hitchhiked to Rogue River with two other people three days earlier, but the transient could not state who was trying to kill him or why, Lewis said.
Batson was arrested on a charge of first-degree criminal trespass and transported to the Jackson County Jail Saturday night. He was released Sunday evening because of overcrowding, jail records show.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.