A farmer and produce stand owner in Kent, Washington opened fire on suspected burglars Wednesday morning, killing one and holding the other at gunpoint until police arrived.
According to the Seattle Times, the man found that the suspects had broken into the farm office early Wednesday morning in what was believed to be an attempted burglary.
It was a little before 2 a.m. when the business owner, whose home is located next to the produce stand, heard unfamiliar noises coming from next door. So the owner armed himself with a shotgun and went to check the property.
The business office had been broken into and inside he found two suspected burglars, who appeared to be in their late teens or early 20s. Although the specific details of what followed haven’t yet been made public, it is known that some sort of physical altercation ensued and that’s when the owner shot the first suspect, killing him.
The man then held the second suspect at gunpoint until police arrived. Once on the scene, officers discovered that the second suspect was wanted for outstanding warrants and he was taken into custody.
Sgt. Cindi West of the King County Sheriff’s Office said that it doesn’t appear the suspects were armed.
While the shooting initially appears to be a clear-cut case of self-defense and property protection, West said that they can’t quite say one way or the other yet.
“It’s too early to tell,” West said. “We’ll do our investigation, send it to the prosecutor and they’ll make the ultimate decision whether this was a self-defense case or not.”
Neighbors say that the business owner is a nice guy, just trying to make a living and get by.
One neighbor, who was not identified, told reporters, “I’ve caught robbers trying to rip off neighbors’ houses a couple of times.” He admitted that he previously had a gun permit and a gun and that he used it a few times in the past, although he never had to shoot anybody. “I don’t have a problem with that at all,” he added. “I think everybody should have that right.”
The business owner told police that he had been the victim of another break-in just the day before, Tuesday, at around 10 p.m., but he did not report it. Investigators are unsure if the two break-ins are related, but are exploring that possibility.
Officers say that the business owner has fully cooperated. Investigators are interviewing the owner and the suspect in custody to see if their stories collaborate.