Suspect killed in Southgate home invasion was neighbor

Holly Fournier and Tom Greenwood
The Detroit News

Southgate — Police have identified a next-door neighbor as the alleged home invader who was killed Thursday when he was confronted by a 74-year-old homeowner.

James Clickard, 19, was fatally shot by a male homeowner around 5 a.m. inside the home on the 15000 block of Flanders, said Thomas Coombs, director of public safety. Clickard was staying next door to the home where he was killed.

“I believe he was residing there, whether it was his legal address, I don’t know,” Coombs said. “His uncle indicated that he was living there.”

Clickard was identified using fingerprints submitted to Michigan State Police, Coombs said.

Both Clickard and the homeowner were armed, according to police.

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

Clickard’s gun was stolen last year from a home invasion in Taylor, said Coombs, who added investigators do not know if Clickard was involved in the theft.

The confrontation on Thursday occurred after the homeowners awoke to noise inside the home, Coombs said.

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.

Police are withholding the homeowners’ names pending a warrant request to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, which will determine whether to bring charges. The request is expected to be issued within two weeks.

“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.”

Neighbors on the street, lined with a mix of old ranch and newer homes, said they 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. “She’s a wreck. She called me and she’s crying, so I jumped out of the shower and came straight here.”