Homeowner Fatally Shoots Alleged Thief Outside Of Residence

VAN BUREN COUNTY, MICHIGAN – An alleged thief was fatally shot by a homeowner early Sunday morning. Two residents called 911 at 6:23 a.m. to report an unknown subject who was attempting to steal their property.

Michigan State Police Troopers responded to the home near 42nd Street in Decatur Township to take a larceny report. However, when they arrived, they discovered that a homicide had occurred during their response.

According to police, their preliminary investigation determined that after calling 911, the homeowners then encountered the suspect outside of the residence. During the confrontation, one of the homeowners shot the suspect who was later identified as Jeffrey Horton, 28, of  Decatur. The homeowners and first responders rendered first aid in an attempt to save the man’s life, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The investigation is continuing, and the names of the homeowners have not been made public. No arrests have been made, nor did authorities speculate if any would be made. Upon completion of the investigation, which will include lab analysis, a complete copy of the report will be forwarded to the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s office for review.

Michigan has both “Castle Doctrine” and “Stand Your Ground” laws. Castle Doctrine applies to someone illegally entering an occupied dwelling, vehicle, or business. Stand Your Ground is applicable in outdoor spaces, but only if the person who claims to have used lethal force in self-defense did so honestly believing that they were in danger of serious bodily injury, sexual assault, or death. While there is no duty to retreat, the burden of proof is on the party who claims self-defense.

The best practice is to call police and keep yourself in a safe location, instead of directly confronting a suspect. That person may have a gun or knife, and you may find yourself in a terrible situation. Property can be replaced, and it’s always risky to approach an unknown person.

If you or someone else is in danger, however, it changes things completely.

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