Intruder killed by homeowner had criminal history

Intruder killed by homeowner had criminal history

TOLEDO, Wash. – An acquaintance to an intruder shot and killed by a homeowner - in what police said was a justified shooting - said he tried to help the suspect straighten his life out.

Terry Hanson said the suspect, 45-year-old Mark Michels, said he could rob a bank. “I said, ‘Hey, that’s a real smart thing and you’ll be right back where you came from - in prison.’ Apparently, that’s exactly what he did: went out and broke into someone’s house and paid the price for it.”

Hanson, Michels' former boss and landlord, said the suspect was talented but he wasted his life. “I tried to help him for a long time now. I give up.” He also said Michels owed him money.

Michels had a criminal history that included arrests for burglary and grand theft.

The Lewis County sheriff’s office said the 62-year-old resident was awakened about 10:40 p.m. Tuesday by the sound of someone breaking into his home.

“He (homeowner) heard some noise, got up, thought he saw some shadows,” said Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield. “He armed himself and started to look around and all of a sudden there’s someone right there in his house coming toward him up the stairway in his house.”

When the intruder refused two commands to “freeze”, the homeowner fired once, said Mansfield. Michels died at the scene.

The sheriff said the investigation will continue to ensure everything matches the homeowner’s account.

Justifiable homicide in Washington happens when it’s “in the lawful defense of the slayer,” or in other words, the lawful defense of the person who pulls the trigger.

It is also justifiable “In the actual resistance of an attempt to commit a felony upon the slayer, in his presence, or upon or in a dwelling … in which he is.”

“He (homeowner) has a right under Washington law to use necessary force to protect himself and his family,” said Mansfield. “That’s what he told us he did, and we have no reason at this point to believe or suspect otherwise.”