A Pleasant Grove, Utah man shot and killed his neighbor Sunday morning as the neighbor attempted to force his way into the man’s home from his second-story balcony.
Officers responded to a report of a home invasion in the area of 1700 West and 60 South at 5:42 a.m. where they found Christian Chichia, 24, had been shot, according to Pleasant Grove police Lt. Britt Smith. He died after being taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
A preliminary investigation shows Chichia began pounding on the front door of the house, awakening and alarming the homeowners, Britt said. After he couldn’t get in the front door, he climbed to a second-story balcony and tried to get in a door.
Britt said the homeowner armed himself and went to the balcony door. He unlocked the door to talk to the man.
“Once the door was unlocked Chichia attempted to force his way into the residence, and was shot by the homeowner,” he said.
This will probably be ruled a self-defense shooting, but the homeowner made a huge mistake in unlocking the balcony door to talk to the man outside, and may potentially blur the lines of his defense.
An anti-gun prosecutor could make the argument that the home invader, Chichia, had remained outside when attempting to access the main door on the first floor without attempting to break in, and may have remained outside without trying to force his way in if the homeowner had simply left the door locked. If Chichia had breached a locked door, the shooting would have been open-and-shut.
I don’t pretend to know Utah’s laws, but in some states Chichia’s family may be able to file a costly wrongful death lawsuit against the homeowner.
Do not expose yourself to this sort of liability, folks. Have a plan to address threats from positions inside your home that give you the tactical advantage over potential home invaders, and never, ever, open the door for someone attempting to force their way into the home. If you have anything to say to them—”I have a gun and will shoot you if you force your way inside” is a nice start—do so by shouting that information from a safe position, preferably at an offset angle where it is more difficult for them to see or shoot you.
It will be interesting to see Chichia’s toxicology screen from his autopsy. It’s just an informed hunch based upon covering similar situations in the past, but I suspect that Chichia was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and thought he was attempting to enter his own identical townhome, several doors down, and was simply confused… not that the homeowner had any way of knowing that at the time.
Plan ahead, folks, and don’t open the door for strangers attempting to gain entry.