Man shot and killed in Iowa break-in had been accused of domestic violence by homeowner

Man shot and killed in Iowa break-in had been accused of domestic violence by homeowner
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Police in Monticello, Iowa, say a man who was shot and killed after breaking into a home in the small town last week was known to the home’s owner. In fact, authorities say 30-year-old Pattrick O’Brine and the woman who owns the home had previously lived there together while they were a couple. It’s unclear how long the pair were together, but it was long enough for them to have two kids together. Last fall, however, the woman accused O’Brine of domestic abuse and had filed for an order of protection seeking to bar him from having any contact with her.

Based on police reports, it sounds like the woman had moved out of the home at some point over the past few months, and new residents had moved in. So, rather than finding his ex inside the home, O’Brine was discovered by an armed citizen.

Monticello Police Chief Britt Smith revealed that just before 2:00 am on Wednesday, 30-year-old Pattrick O’Brine had broken into a home in the 300 block of South Sycamore Street. Once inside, a resident with a gun shot and killed O’Brine, the resident and his 10-year-old son were both inside and unharmed. Despite TV9 calling and requesting information on Thursday morning, Smith’s release did not explain why it took more than 48 hours to alert the public to a shooting death. Chief Smith said the investigation is ongoing and did not state whether or not the person who shot O’Brine would face criminal charges.

TV9 was able to find court documents showing O’Brine reported living at the address where the shooting happened as recently as May 2022. In a separate court filing in September 2022, O’Brine claims he had a relationship with the woman listed as the owner of the home on Sycamore Street. That filing was seeking joint custody of the two children they had conceived during their relationship, though the two were never married.

In October 2022, the woman O’Brine claimed as the mother of his two children filed for a protective order against O’Brine citing domestic abuse allegations, though the specifics of the claims were sealed by a judge. Court records show no criminal charges against O’Brine for domestic abuse. Those same court records indicate the woman has since moved to a new address, though property records still list her as the deed holder on Sycamore Street.

At this point, police haven’t said if they’ve been able to determine a specific motive for O’Brine’s burglary, but people don’t typically break into homes in the middle of the night to drop off cookies or to take care of the homeowner’s laundry for them. The initial report of the shooting indicated that O’Brine had “confronted” the resident before he was shot, but it’s unclear whether O’Brine knew that his ex was no longer living in the home.

While learning O’Brine’s motivation might be helpful to explain why he decided to break into the house where he used to live, not knowing doesn’t really change the fact that O’Brine committed a crime and caused the resident inside to justifiably fear for his life and the life of his 10-year-old son. The Monticello police chief says the investigation is continuing, but the resident is not currently facing charges, and I would be shocked if that changes, at least based on the evidence released to date.

We just spoke with the Crime Prevention Research Center’s Nikki Goeser on Cam & Co yesterday about the dangers of stalking and why she believes every stalking victim needs to think seriously about owning a gun for self-defense. Unfortunately, this story is another reminder that an order of protection is a legal document, not a suit of armor. While it may be an important step in getting the law involved, it shouldn’t be the only step people take to protect themselves.