3 masked men break into Orange Co. home, hold 2 at gunpoint; man killed in shootout: Deputies

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Monday, March 4, 2024
Man dies after shootout during home invasion: Deputies
Orange County Sheriff's Office says the violent home invasion happened early Sunday morning.

ORANGE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Three people broke into an Orange County home, and in a shootout, killed a man living there.

Orange County Sheriff's Office said the crime happened Sunday morning around midnight at a home near Highway 70 and Buckhorn Road.

Deputies said three men forced their way inside Jerry Lee Driggers' home and demanded money. Driggers pulled out a shotgun and opened fire on the men.

One of the home invaders was shot in his upper body below his shoulders. One of the home invaders pulled out a gun and shot back.

Driggers, 58, was shot and later died in the hospital.

After the shootout, the men who broke into the home all ran out. Deputies believe two of them hopped into a car and drove off, leaving the third to fend for himself.

Deputies found the third man, the one who had been shot, in a parking lot near the home. He was identified as Clarence Brandon Hayes, 28, and taken to the hospital for treatment.

Deputies later charged him with first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, first-degree kidnapping, felony conspiracy and injury to real property.

There were two other people inside the home when the home invaders broke in. They told deputies they were held at gunpoint during the crime, but they were not injured. They said all of the men were dressed in black and wearing masks when they broke in.

Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said everybody has a legal right to defend themselves and the people who live with you when someone comes into your home.

"We get asked this a lot. 'What are my rights within my home?' The Castle Doctrine is fairly clear that you have not just the right but the duty to protect your home and those that are within your home," he said. "There are a lot of theories on what's the right thing to do. People ask a lot, you know, 'What kind of gun should I have for home protection?' I've always suggested aluminum baseball bat, just because you can scare somebody away, and once you pull that trigger and somebody's dead, it's a whole other world."

However, the Castle Doctrine does have limits.

"I don't want to see people get so brave that they pick up whatever weapon they have and venture out into the yard to confront these folks. Because that in and of itself can be a problem and can get you in into a situation it might be difficult to get out," he said.

Blackwood went on to say having good neighbors and proper lighting around your property are all great defenses to prevent your home from being targeted.

He also said having a plan can make all the difference in the world.

"You've got to formulate some type of a plan of what you're going to do if that glass breaks and somebody comes in," he said. "I think it's a conversation we all have with our kids, when they're in an age where they can understand that there are bad people in this world."

Investigators are still trying to track down the two men who escaped Driggers' home. However, they said they do believe this to be an isolated crime.

"At this time, we think this crime was an isolated incident and we have no reason to believe the other perpetrators are still in the immediate area. We will continue to investigate, seeking to determine their identities and take them into custody," Sheriff Charles Blackwood said.