By Ryan Hill


MODESTO (CBS13) — Residents on Gordon Avenue in Modesto had a startling start to their morning Thursday.

“I was up at around five in the morning and all I heard was pop, pop, pop, it sounded like three shots,” Chris Cataline said.

One man found a burglar inside his motorhome that’s parked just feet from his front door.

“I think if you’re going to break into somebody’s property and charge that person, as a homeowner I’m certainly going to defend myself and defend my family,” Joe Cataline said.

A booking photo of Samuel White, Jr. from a previous arrest in 2019. (Credit: Ripon Police Department)

Modesto Police said that’s exactly what he did, opening fire after the suspect, Samuel White Junior, came toward him in a threatening way.

“It was the right thing for him to do because he could have taken further than just shooting him in the leg to stop him,” Mark Speake said.

Police are considering this a case of self-defense based on the preliminary investigation. But CBS13 wanted to know why, since the suspect entered the motorhome adjacent to the house and never entered the man’s actual home.

Attorney Richard Meyer told us that may not matter in this case.

“In residential burglaries, outhouses or other buildings on the property could be considered residential for that purpose,” Meyer said. “I think there’s an argument to be made that this mobile home on this property is the equivalent of a residence.”

Some folks agree that their neighbor had the right to pull the trigger.

“Nobody wants something like that to happen to them but nobody wants to take somebody’s life over a petty theft,” Speake said.

Meyer also told us there needs to be reasonable fear that you’re going to be hurt in that situation to use deadly force.

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