Deadly Home Invasion Was A Case Of Mistaken Identity

TULSA, Oklahoma — Police arrested two teens accused of murdering a father just five hours after the man celebrated his son’s first birthday.

Two men broke into the victim’s home to rob them, held the family at gunpoint, and then Jerry Van Ellen followed them outside. That’s when they shot him in the chest and killed him.

Police say the two men planned to break into a drug dealer’s house, but they got the wrong address and ended up inside the home of an innocent family instead.


This is a terrible tragedy for the husband, his wife, and their baby son. I’m not going to criticize a man who lost his life protecting his family. Anyone who fights back is bucking the pussified system we’ve been force fed and I’m all for that. But I am going to tell you what to do so you can avoid the same outcome.

  1. Weigh the odds. The more bad guys vs good guys the less chance you have of coming out on top; forget what you see in the movies.
  2. If the bad guys break contact and you can’t shoot them as they flee, then take the opportunity to solidify your position. Find better cover, acquire better weapons (or reload), and call for reinforcements (the police or your friends with guns).
  3. Don’t move from a known friendly position to an unknown position unless you have to. “Have to” for me is they have my wife or one of my children. Or maybe if they shot my dog or something. Just kidding.
  4. When the police get there they will mop up the bad guys. Or if it is your friends with guns who get there, then carefully and systematically clear the area. There is no need to hurry because you have solidified your position in step 2. You’re no longer protecting yourself from wolves, you are hunting them down.

I have no problem criticizing Sgt. Mike Huff of the Tulsa Police department for this statement:

“This crap with videogames and teenagers running around with [a] gun and thinking life is a game. They’re gonna wake up in prison someday,” Sgt. Huff said.

Of course we all know that before video games kids never found an excuse to rob and kill people. This reminds me of when Judas Priest was on trial for inciting two kids to kill themselves with subliminal messages in their music. I can’t remember who said it, but it always rang true, “If the message had said ‘mow the lawn’ would there have been drunken teenagers pushing the mower around the front yard?” Criminals don’t need a video game to incite them to rob and kill. Which brings us to this bit of commentary from the article:

Police say young criminals have a misplaced sense of honor, courage and duty.

Really? Ya think? News9 needed “police” to tell them that? Criminals are morally deficient by definition.

Terrible story and tragic outcome. If a home invasion happens to you I pray it is the bad guy’s wife who morns the loss and not yours.

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  • Montie  On January 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    To be fair, Mike is a friend of mine, and one of the premier homicide investigators in not just Oklahoma, but the Nation. What I think he was referring to was the particular manner in which the perpetrators enacted the crime, not that such crime hasn’t been going on for all of human existence.

    One of the things we are seeing more frequently these days is something of a “de-sensitization” to blood, gore and mayhem that is so present not only in violent video games, but in movies, TV, etc. It’s like police work. When you first get on the job, some of the stuff you see tends to gross you out and have a lingering effect on your psyche, but after a few years of dealing with a lot of it, that kind of goes away. Young people today see more blood and killing in TV, Movies and video games than many combat vets.

    Lt. Col. David Grossman mentioned this effect in his book “On Combat” and has done studies on the effect.

    BTW, I’m impressed with the way you turned yourself around and not only got in shape, but trained up physically and mentally. Something I absolutely MUST do to survive “the job” and life in general. Hopefully you won’t mind my taking inspiration from your story “Geek Warrior”.

    • trackerk  On January 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      5 1/2 years ago I was attending my 5 year old son’s first martial arts belt ceremony. During the ceremony the head instructor, Jason Epps, introduced the other instructors at the school. One of them was Jim Crawford who started when he was 37, over weight and had never done any martial arts in his life. Now here he was, a black belt and an instructor. “If he can do it, why not me,” I asked myself. He was at my black belt test punching and kicking the snot out of me 4 years later and I couldn’t have been happier. If my story inspires someone then I am happy. Just know that I stand on the shoulders of giants who inspired and continue to guide and advise me to this day.

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