INTERVIEW

December 11 2006

INTERVIEW

December 11 2006

INTERVIEW

‘I went to pull the cord on the basement light, and that’s when a guy came out at me. It was so dark. I started hitting him'

DON SHAXON, HOMEOWNER AND VENTURE CAPITALIST, TALKS TO MICHAEL FRISCOLANTI ABOUT INTRUDERS, HEAD PUNCHES AND LUCK

Q: This all began two weeks ago, when you encountered a l6-year-old intruder in your basement. You punched him numerous times, pinned him to the ground, then held him there until police arrived. Now authorities in Burlington, Ont., are investigating whether you deserve to be criminally charged for using excessive force. And all this just a few months after you were praised in the press for helping to save a man’s life after he fell off his balcony. Let’s start with that story.

A: It was about two in the morning. My baby daughter was just born and she needed some diapers, so I ran out to the grocery store. On the way back I was at a stoplight and I saw a guy standing in the middle of the street, kind of coming across the street, but I couldn’t really see much because it was dark. And then when my light went green I started driving through and I realized this guy was covered head to toe in blood with just a pair of shorts on. So I pulled over, popped my trunk, grabbed a towel, and I ran over and leaned him up against a garbage can and tied his arm with the towel. A couple of times he passed out and I had to smack him in the face and say: “Hey, talk to me. Talk to me!” He had a pretty bad head wound, with blood coming out of his mouth and stuff. And his arm bone was hanging out and the artery was squirting pretty bad, so I just kind of reached in and squeezed—even though 911

told me not to do that. But they didn’t see how much blood he was losing so it was a judgment call. And when the paramedics showed up on the scene, they were like: “Wow, good for you. What you did saved him.”

Q: Are you trained in first aid?

A: No.

Q: So are you just the type of guy who always seems to end up in the middle of things?

A: Always. My life has been—as my friends say—like a fairy tale. I’m the luckiest guy on the planet. I go to the casino quite a bit, and every time I go in there I walk in with $200 and I walk out with ten grand, twenty grand. A lot of weird things happen to me.

Q: The weirdest thing yet might have been what happened in your basement two weeks ago. What do you remember?

A We just moved in about six months ago. It was a Saturday night, about 12:30.1 had just finished setting up a bunch of stuff downstairs. Melissa, my wife, was doing laundry. And then we went upstairs, and we heard an argument out front. We looked out the front window first, and saw there were about 10 kids fighting right at the end of our driveway, pretty close to our vehicles.

Q: Fighting?

A: Full-blown kicking this guy in the head who was on the ground on his hands and knees. I went out there and told them: “Get the hell off my property.” Melissa and I walked

to the side of the house, and we were kind of standing at the side watching them. They started moving down the street and everything seemed good, so we went back inside. We were maybe inside four or five minutes when my dog jumped up and starts barking and runs toward the basement stairs, freaking. So I go down, and he runs toward the laundry room door. I walk over and open the door, and it’s black. I went to pull the cord on the light, and that’s when a guy came out at me. He was wearing a big puffy black jacket. It was just a black figure. It was so dark you can’t make anything out. It was disbelief. “Hey, wait a minute. What the heck is going on here?” Then I just grabbed his shirt, yelled at Melissa that there was someone in the house, and started hitting him. We both went on the ground, and then I stood up and was standing above him. I told him not to move. I said: “I’ve got two kids in the house, and if you move, I swear to God I will kill you.” Melissa was on the phone to the police right behind me, and he started moving so I did give him a couple more punches. I said: “Don’t move!” He said: “Okay, okay, I’m not moving.”

Q: Did you punch him in the face?

A: Yup. And then I waited for the police to show up and I escorted him upstairs. Personally, I think this is all just a joke. I can’t even believe that the media is so interested due to the fact that, you know what, I gave the guy a few punches to the head. He was in my basement, wearing black at 12:30, one o’clock in the morning. Anyone in their right

mind would have punched him. It’s not like I grabbed a golf club or a hammer or a knife or anything like that. My golf clubs were right there. I could have. I could have grabbed a bike helmet. I could have grabbed anything. But I didn’t. I gave the guy a few shots in the head, I restrained him, and then I just waited for the police to come. You get people out there who say I did the wrong thing. Well, you know what, they haven’t been put in that situation, or they don’t have kids. Personally,

I think that if the justice system says that I did something wrong in this event, well, then there is a serious problem, because there was no excessive force. It was a few punches.

Q: What is a few?

A: You know what, in the moment I don’t know. Maximum, 15 or 20. But it was like a hockey-style fight. You get people watching hockey every day—I’m not a hockey fan myself—but people watch hockey and you see guys fighting toe to toe, bam bam bam, they’ll give ’em 20, 30 shots and everyone is cheering them on. Yet I do that to someone that’s in my basement, and I’m the bad guy?

Q: Did he come out at you?

A: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Q: So he came out swinging?

A: Well, he stepped to me. It was like, you know what, he came toward me. His hands were up, he came toward me, and I just hit him in the face.

Q: I can only imagine what was going through your wife’s head while all this was happening.

A: It’s brutal, because I’ve always worked from home. And now I’ve just set up this office and I’ve hired on a bunch of employees and I have to be here to make sure everything is going well. She is not used to that. She is used to me being home. And now after this, she doesn’t even want to go in the house.

Q: Do you have a home alarm system?

A: No, but it’s coming this week.

Q: What did the police do when they showed up that night?

A: They said to me that he was being charged with underage drinking and that they were going to go bring him to his mom’s house. I thought he was kidding. I started laughing. I was like: “This is a joke, right?” The kid said he was at a party next door and accidentally walked in the wrong house. The officer said: “In a court of law, he is going to get off, and you gave him more justice than he would get in any courtroom.” That’s what the cop said.

Q: Have you seen this kid since?

A: No.

Q: Is he badly hurt?

A: Not that I know of. I know he had a little blood coming out of his ear when he left, but I haven’t had any contact with him.

Q: When did yon first hear that the Halton Regional Police are also investigating your

actions that night?

A: A reporter called me up and said that they had spoken with the officers and that I am being investigated for potentially using excessive force.

Q: Has any officer told you that directly?

A: A week later, I went in to give a formal statement because they hadn’t even asked me for a formal statement. When I was in there I did ask if they were looking at potentially charging me. The answer was: “We’re not saying yes or no, but obviously it’s being investigated.” I asked when I was going to know, and they said that a uniformed officer will be at my place some time this week.

Q: Are you concerned that you might actually be charged?

A: My concern isn’t that I would be charged. My concern is that if I am charged, the media is going to take this to another level. That’s my concern. I have faith that the police are going to come to the right decision here and realize what actually went down. It doesn’t take too much to put one and one together. But no, I’m not afraid of being charged.

QYOU have started an online petition on your company’s web si te—www. o rga n ized investing.com—that asks visitors to choose whether you are “innocent” or “guilty.” Have you received a lot of feedback?

A: I open my inbox, and it’s story after story after story of people who had the same thing happen to them. I haven’t had one person say guilty. Everyone says I’m innocent, and they’re freaking out that it’s even a question.

Q: Why do you feel that this is something you have to publicize?

A: It sounds absurd, but you have to justify your actions. I go to the regular place where I go for lunch and people are like: “Ah, you belong in jail for what you did.” How do you figure? How do you figure? You can’t see the guy. All you see is a shadow, an outline, and it’s coming at you. Anyoneanyone—would do the same thing.

Q: What specifically do your critics disagree with?

A: They say he was a 16-year-old boy. I say: “Well, you can’t see him.” They say it doesn’t matter, that I should have taken the time to figure it out. What if it was an old man? What if he’s senile and just stumbled into your house? Why would you beat him up first without questioning?

Q: In hindsight, do you think you could have handled the situation differently?

A: I think I handled it perfect. It’s almost like I should be the poster boy for how to handle an intruder. I didn’t do anything excessive. I restrained him. I put him on the

ground, I held him there, and I had my wife call the police.

Q: Is there any part of you that feels bad for that teenager?

A Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I would probably be feeling remorse if I really hurt him. But I didn’t. I used my fists. I knocked him on the ground. And that was it. I have no remorse whatsoever. Maybe he just needs to realize his actions and realize that he got off lucky. I think in the heat of the moment I probably said a few things to him that probably scared the living daylights out of him, and maybe that will make him second-guess the next time he goes to do that.

Q: Yours is not the only case of a person being criticized for invoking self-defence. Last week,

'People say, you belong in jail for what you did. How do you figure? They say, he was a 16-year-old boy.1

a Calgary man stabbed and killed a wouldbe robber on the street. Is it time to re-examine Canada’s self-defence laws?

A: Definitely. They have to set out some sort of specific guidelines to let people know what they can and cannot do. I hear from people who say they sleep with knives and nine irons beside their beds. Well, you think you’re doing that to protect your family, but you never think that if someone comes into your house and you use that, you could potentially go to jail. And then where is your family going to be? M