Cheviot Hills, California on the westside of Los Angeles is within a short drive of Fox Studios and Sony Pictures, and is one of the lowest density neighborhoods of LA. That doesn’t mean that the sleepy community is crime-free … or entirely asleep, either. Burglars who had started a spree of B&Es in the neighborhood brought it to an abrupt halt when they discovered Carla awake — and armed:

Los Angeles Local News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

“I’m not a sitting duck,” says Carla.  She prefers to keep her last name private.  Carla is a Cheviot Hills homeowner who scared away burglars when she grabbed her shotgun and fired.

Carla told us her dog woke her up when he started barking. She looked outside and saw a man in her backyard, another waiting by a car.

Carla wasted no time. Wearing her nightgown, she went outside and fired once toward the ground.  Carla says, it was just to scare them off. It worked. The two suspects ran back to a white sedan and drove off.

Carla says she heard one of them screaming, “Crazy b**ch has a gun!!”

There are a couple of lessons to take from Carla’s experience. First, warning shots can be effective, but don’t fire up — fire down, as Carla did, because what goes up will come down at the same velocity fast enough to kill someone. However, warning shots that empty your weapon are usually a bad idea unless you can reload quickly. Shotguns are indeed effective home-defense weapons, but they’re not the only effective choice for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves against burglars, robbers, intruders, and the like.

Another point: People who own firearms for self-defense in relatively quiet neighborhoods will often hear scoffing at the need for such measures, as if there’s something magical about those areas that keep them immune from crime. Cheviot Hills is one of the nicer areas of LA, but that didn’t stop burglars from targeting those houses. Those two may not come back any time soon, though.

If you’ve never heard of Cheviot Hills, you’ve probably at least seen it:

Situated within a short drive of both Fox Studios and Sony Pictures Studios, the neighborhood has often been the site for the filming of motion pictures and television shows. Examples dating to the 1920s and 1930s include Laurel and Hardy,[6][15]The Ropers television series from the late 1970s, the movie Private School in 1983,[16] and an example dating from 2009 is the house of the characters of Claire and Phil Dunphy in the television series Modern Family.[17] A house on Cheviot Drive was used in “The Flying Nun” starring Sally Field and a house on Glenbarr Avenue was the home of “Nanny and the Professor”.

Nice area. Carla wants to keep it that way.

Update: Science geeks challenge my claim, and rightly so, that bullets fired upward will come down at the same rate of speed. However, the bullet/buckshot will come down fast enough to kill even if it is going slower — and that’s not theoretical, as it happens occasionally. Every two or three years, we’d see fatal cases of it in Southern California around a holiday like Independence Day and New Years. If warning or celebratory shots kill someone, that’s a possible involuntary manslaughter charge, based on reckless action.

So, if you want to fire a warning shot, shoot downward and make sure you know the area is clear.

More from commenter DavidK here, from Mythbusters.