At approximately 1 a.m. on Thursday, a Connecticut man fatally shot a masked teen outside a neighbor’s house during what appeared to be an attempted burglary. The man would later learn that the faux assailant was his 15-year-old son.
Jeffrey Giuliano, of New Fairfield, mistakenly shot his adopted son Tyler after his sister (Tyler’s aunt), who lives in a house next door, called him and said that someone was attempting to break into her home.
Upon receiving the alert, Giuliano grabbed his handgun and went over to investigate.
He encountered a person wearing a ski mask, clad in all black, with a “shiny object” in his hand. According to police, the teen lunged at Giuliano, causing the local elementary school teacher to open fire.
Police said the Tyler was lying in his aunt’s driveway with gunshot wounds and Giuliano was sitting on the grass when they arrived. Tyler was pronounced dead at the scene.
It’s unclear at what point Giuliano realized he had killed his son. Police said the ski mask was still on the teen until a state trooper removed it. Also, police are uncertain whether Tyler was really trying to burglarize his aunt’s house or whether this was a prank gone horribly wrong.
By all accounts, Tyler Giuliano is not known as a “troubled teen” or for having any problems in school.
“All in all it’s a tragedy,” Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said on Friday, aptly summing up incident.
Vance said that investigators will check to see if Giuliano’s firearm is lawfully owned before concluding the investigation, which is expected to take approximately a week.
Thus far, no charges have been filed. An autopsy on the teen has been scheduled.
Residents of the quiet neighborhood were stunned by the tragedy.
“I can’t believe something like this would happen in such a small town, to such a great family,” A former student of Giuliano’s, Joe Janse, told CTNow.com.
Bill Schoepp, who lives close by, was speechless.
“It’s very close to home,” he told CTNow.com. “I have nothing to say.”
Stories like this one are always hard to hear. The first question we often ask ourselves is: how could this tragedy have been prevented?
Should the father have tried to identify the burglar? Should he have tried to hold the teen at gunpoint instead of using deadly force? Should he have avoided confronting the situation altogether and waited until the authorities arrived?
Given the circumstances and the known facts, I’m not sure I would have acted any differently than Giuliano.
That said, I do think parents need to be explicitly clear about their home self-defense posture. Children need to be aware of how parents plan on responding during crisis (home invasions, burglaries etc). To maximize the safety of the family, everyone needs to be on the same page.
Moreover, there are certain practical jokes that should be strictly off limits for rather obvious reasons, i.e. pretending to be a burglar and breaking into your aunt’s home at 1 a.m.
Of course, it’s easy to sit here and preach and play safety advisor after the fact. So, out of respect, I’ll stop and just say that our thoughts and prayers go out the Giuliano family.