Southgate man, 74, shoots man breaking into house

Holly Fournier and Tom Greenwood
The Detroit News

Southgate — A home invasion ended in violence Thursday morning when a 74-year-old homeowner shot and killed an armed suspect who had broken into his home.

The incident occurred at 4:47 a.m. in the 15000 block of Flanders, according to Chief Jeff Smith.

“The defendant entered the home through a window and had a firearm with him,” Smith said. “The house was occupied by a man and his wife. He had a legal firearm and confronted the intruder. He ended up shooting him and the defendant died at the scene.”

Police are working to identify the invader and have declined to release the names of the homeowners.

“(The homeowners) heard a noise and they woke up,” said Thomas Coombs, director of public safety.

Coombs said the wife told her husband she believed someone had broken into the house, so the man grabbed his handgun and checked the residence.

“As he walked through the house, the home invader confronted him with his (handgun),” Coombs said. “(The homeowner) shot the home invader, and the home invader died here on the scene.”

The shooting took place in the living room where a window and sliding glass door were opened, Coombs said.

The shooting remains under investigation Thursday afternoon. Police expect to request a warrant within two weeks to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, which will determine whether to bring charges against the homeowner.

“It’s the prosecutor that gets to decide if they believe it to be justified,” Coombs said. “Based on the information we know presently they would find it was a justified shooting. He was protecting his life.”

Coombs said said he expects to have an identification Friday of the deceased.

“We’re not in a position where we’re ready to confirm who the person is,” he said.

Neighbors on the street, lined with a mix of old ranch and newer homes, said they also didn’t expect this type of incident in their normally quiet area.

“This is just shocking,” said Rick Mercer, 56, who lives down the street from the home. “This neighborhood is unbelievably quiet. Nothing goes on in this neighborhood.”

Coombs said the incident is not typical. “This is not a normal occurrence for Southgate,” he said.

Mercer said his daughter lives a few doors down from the house where the home invasion occurred.

“She moved here because of how quiet it was,” Mercer said of his daughter. “She’s a wreck. She called me and she’s crying so I jumped out of the shower and came straight here.”

(313) 223-4616

Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.