Neighbors help Layton man’s defense after he fired gun as alleged burglars fled

Feb 6 2013 - 6:59am

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Niederhauser
Niederhauser

LAYTON -- Layton resident Loren Hubbard does not own a gun, nor does he have a concealed-weapon permit.

But Hubbard and others are supporting Clare B. Niederhauser, who fired his gun twice after his house was burglarized Thursday afternoon. They have opened an account at First National Bank of Layton to help Niederhauser, 64, pay for his defense. For those who want to donate, the account is called "In Defense of Home and Family," Hubbard said.

"I don't know (Niederhauser), but I know of him from some of his friends, who are my friends also," Hubbard said. "And after I heard what happened, we felt compelled to action."

A blog has also been posted with Niederhauser's story, as well as ways to donate online. It is at supportclare.blogspot.com, and as of Tuesday afternoon it had more than 41,000 views.

As of Tuesday, Niederhauser had not been formally charged in 2nd District Court. He was booked and released from the jail on two counts of reckless endangerment, class A misdemeanors.

Layton City Attorney Gary Crane said his staff is reviewing the 911 tapes, the witness statements and police reports to determine what charges will ultimately be filed against Niederhauser in 2nd District Court in Layton.

The Davis County Attorney's Office filed in 2nd District Court felony charges Tuesday against Robert Santos Cruz, who was later identified as being the man inside Niederhauser's home and who ran out with a crowbar in his hand.

Cruz, of Layton, is being held in Davis County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. He is charged with one count of second-degree felony burglary and one count of criminal mischief, a class B misdemeanor. His first court hearing is set for today in Farmington.

Hubbard said Niederhauser has already paid $1,500 for a retainer's fee to hire an attorney, and believes the fees will go much higher before the case is resolved.

Any funds not used for Niederhauser's defense will be used to lobby for bills to clarify the current gun laws, Hubbard said.

Hubbard said several homes in the area where Niederhauser lives have been burglarized in the past few months.

"So when he comes home and is met with a burglar coming out of his home with a crowbar or pry bar, the way I understand the laws of self-defense, (Niederhauser) had every right to shoot the guy, but he chooses not to shoot him and instead (Niederhauser) is booked into the Davis County Jail," Hubbard said. "I believe the (Layton) police department is sending a bad message. They're saying you can't defend your property, and it empowers the criminals to let them think they can do whatever they want. That's my own personal opinion."

Police said when Niederhauser, who has a concealed-weapon permit, came home Thursday, he saw a green car in his driveway that he did not recognize. As he walked up his driveway, a woman in the car started honking the horn.

That is when a man, who was later identified as Cruz, came out of the house with a crowbar, police said.

Niederhauser, who had a gun with him, confronted Cruz and ordered him to drop the crowbar, which he did, police said.

The car then backed out of the driveway, heading east on Gentile, and Niederhauser fired a shot at the car, police said.

After the car left, Niederhauser went back to his car and got his cellphone to call 911. When the first police car arrived, Niederhauser turned his attention to the officer, and Cruz ran to the backyard area. Niederhauser chased Cruz and fired a shot into the field.

Police said Niederhauser was cooperative during the investigation, but was not authorized to shoot into the street or field.

Police are still searching for the car and the woman and man who were inside the car.

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