PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A disabled former lobsterman who shot an intruder after buying a gun to defend himself sued his landlord Monday over a policy that prohibits him from keeping a gun in his subsidized apartment.
Harvey Lembo, who uses a motorized wheelchair, was warned by his property management company that tenants are prohibited from having firearms after he shot an alleged burglar in the shoulder after five break-ins.
The lawsuit was filed in Knox County Superior Court.
"We're interested in ensuring that people in Mr. Lembo's position are able to enjoy their full constitution rights, including their right to lawfully possess a firearm in self-defense," said Patrick Strawbridge, his Boston-based attorney.
There was no immediate response from Stanford Management Co, operator of Park Place Apartments.
The National Rifle Association applauded the lawsuit, which contends the landlord interfered with Lembo's constitutional right to bear arms and violated the Maine Civil Rights Act.
"Threatening to evict Mr. Lembo for defending himself clearly violates his constitutional rights," John Hohenwarter, an NRA official in Maine, said in a written statement. "Self-defense is a fundamental, God-given right that belongs to every law-abiding American - no matter their tax bracket, zip code or street address."
The lawsuit provided additional details about Lembo's health and the shooting.
The 67-year-old Lembo, a retired lobsterman and former Vinalhaven volunteer police officer, has survived three heart attacks and suffers from diabetes and degenerative heart disease, and he feared that he was being targeted by burglars for prescription medication used for chronic pain, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit said the shooting happened just 12 hours after he bought the gun. According to the lawsuit, he shot Christopher Wildhaber when the alleged assailant lurched at him while he was dialing 911. Wildhaber fled into the woods.
Police officers called an ambulance because they feared Lembo was going to have a heart attack, and first responders gave him oxygen until his heart rate returned to normal levels, according to the lawsuit. Wildhaber, who recovered from his injury, was charged with burglary and refusing to submit to arrest.