Man files lawsuit against landlord over right to have firearm in his apartment

Harvey Lembo

Harvey Lembo believes that because he is disabled and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around, criminals may think he is an easy target. (Photo: Bangor Daily News)

A 67-year-old disabled man who shot an intruder during a break-in at his Rockland, Maine, apartment in September filed a lawsuit Monday against his landlord, who threatened eviction over a policy that prohibits tenants from owning firearms, ABC News reported.

Harvey Lembo’s apartment was targeted a total of five times before he purchased a handgun. Lembo, who suffers from diabetes, degenerative heart disease and chronic pain, believes burglars targeted his home searching for prescription drugs, and less than 12 hours after he purchased his gun, he was met face to face with one of those burglars.

Lembo, who was sleeping with his newly purchased gun under his pillow, was awakened around midnight and saw a shadowy figure pass from the kitchen into the living room. Lembo found Christopher Wildhaber, 45, sifting through his prescription pills, so he trained his gun on the intruder and warned him not to move as he called 911.

However, Wildhaber did not heed Lembo’s warning and attempted to run out of the apartment while Lembo was on the phone. Lembo, however, responded by firing a single shot at Wildhaber, striking him in the shoulder. Wildhaber still fled from the scene, but was found by authorities a short time later in a nearby wooded area. He was taken into police custody after a brief struggle and was charged with burglary and a probation violation.

Days later, Lembo was contacted by Standford Management Company with a reminder that, per house rules and the signed lease agreement, Lembo was not allowed to have a firearm in his subsidized apartment home. Initially, although Lembo called the policy “bull,” agreed to comply, but apparently at some point changed his mind.

“We’re interested in ensuring that people in Mr. Lembo’s position are able to enjoy their full (constitutional) rights, including their right to lawfully possess a firearm in self-defense,” said Patrick Strawbridge, a Boston-based attorney representing Lembo.

The National Rifle Association lauded Lembo’s lawsuit and his action in standing up for his constitutional right to bear arms.

“Threatening to evict Mr. Lembo for defending himself clearly violates his constitutional rights,” said John Hohenwarter, an NRA Maine state liaison. “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 management company has not yet responded to the lawsuit, which was filed in Knox County Superior Court.