A Columbus, Ohio, homeowner fatally shot a man after he kicked in his front door Friday morning, and police say the man was most likely justified in his actions.
The 71-year-old homeowner called 911 just after before noon, according to reports from local media.
“Some … some guy broke into my house, and I shot him,” he told the 911 dispatcher.
The homeowner gave the dispatcher details of the incident leading up to the shooting, and when officers arrived at the home, they found the suspect, later identified as 31-year-old Michael Rinehart, lying just outside the front door. He was pronounced dead at 12:12 p.m.
Sgt. Rich Weiner, a Columbus police spokesman said the homeowner fired a single shot from his revolver as the man tried to break into his home. Weiner said there was “obvious damage” to the man’s front door and that the man was protecting his home and had “every right to do so.”
Weiner explained that a homeowner doesn’t always have to wait for a suspect to be completely inside their home before taking action.
“There’s a big difference if somebody’s outside and they’re 20, 30, 40 feet away and they’re not inside your residence,” Weiner said. “But somebody is kicking in your door and they’re coming in, most people might consider that to be a threat and they can take action.”
The initial investigation indicated that the homeowner acted in self-defense and no charges are expected to be filed, but ultimately the decision will be made by the grand jury.
Neighbors said the homeowner, who has lived in the house for more than 40 years, is a good, quiet man who lost his wife in 2004. Coordinator for the neighborhood watch, Pat Wood, said it’s a sad situation for everyone involved. Weiner reiterated Wood’s thoughts, called the incident tragic, and pointed out that the resident will have to live the rest of his life knowing that he took the life of another person.
Rinehart, who was just released from prison in September, had a prior criminal history, which included a four-year sentence for burglary. Rinehart blamed his drug addiction for his criminal behavior and asked a judge to release him into a halfway house in 2013, but the request was denied, with the judge citing various violations, including possession of contraband, while in prison.