A Washington state man shot and killed a suspected burglar and opened fire on another inside his home early Thursday, saying “I have a right to defend myself.”
Jerahme Smith, 31, told Fox affiliate KCPQ-TV in Seattle that he was in his Spanaway home with his sister when two men kicked in a back door. One of them had a weapon, prompting Smith to open fire in self-defense, he said.
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“When everything first started, the first thing I had to do was take a few breaths and calm myself down because I knew it could have gone one of two ways,” he told the news outlet. “I didn’t know who they were, I didn’t know what they had, but the first thing I did–and it’s the honest to God truth–is I took a few breaths to myself. That way I knew I was calm enough to make a proper judgment decision.”
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said they received a call about a home invasion just before 4:30 a.m. from a homeowner who said he shot at intruders. When deputies arrived, they found an unresponsive suspect, identified as a 24-year-old man.
No further information about him has been released. Fox News has reached out to authorities.
He was declared dead by medics who arrived a short time later. Authorities are still searching for the second suspect. Smith has not been arrested, authorities said.
“The detectives will finish the investigation and forward the case to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office for review,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement.
Smith said he and his wife and three children were living in the rented home for three years. He maintains he acted in self-defense.
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“It kind of goes back to your rights. I have the right to carry and I have the right to protect myself and I have the right to protect my property,” he said. “Protect yourself. That doesn’t mean go looking for it, that means just be ready.”
Nearby residents told the news outlet the area has seen an increase in crime.
“If it ain’t one thing it’s another,” said one man, who declined to give his name. “That kind of upsets me that we have this kind of crime going on in the neighborhood. It’s not a good feeling because we don’t know—it could be something happening tomorrow, tonight, you know? Same old thing.”