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Woman fires at intruder who then burns himself to death

Originally ran here as:
"Intruder dies as fire hits his former home"
"Metairie woman gets off 2 shots during confrontation with man"
by Mark Waller
The Times-Picayune
October 02, 2001

METAIRIE, LOUISIANA -- Minutes after a Chalmette man forced his way into the house early Monday, kicked in a bedroom door and was shot at by his ex-roommate, a fire broke out in the home killing the man, who was found dead next to a gasoline can.

The incident began when the man forced his way into his ex-roommate's Metairie home at 1:47 a.m. The woman called 911 and locked herself in a bedroom with a gun. When the man kicked in the bedroom door, she fired two shots, and he fled to the kitchen.

Moments later, a fire erupted in the kitchen. The woman escaped unharmed, but her ex-roommate was found dead in the house with a gasoline can nearby.

The cause of his death was not immediately known, and Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies would not name either the man, a 32-year-old Chalmette resident, or the 53-year-old woman.

The confrontation began when the man inexplicably rang the doorbell and knocked on the door of the woman's home at 706 Oriole St., said Col. John Fortunato, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman. The woman told investigators that she had kicked the man out of the house about a month ago and would not let him enter.

As the woman spoke with a 911 operator, the sound of shattering glass could be heard in the background. Still on the phone with the operator, the woman went to a bedroom, locked the door and armed herself, Fortunato said.

"She claimed that the suspect then kicked open the bedroom door," he said.

The woman fired two shots in the man's direction, and he retreated. But fire presently engulfed the kitchen.

The woman fled, and the man was found dead inside the house, Fortunato said. He said the man appeared not to have been struck by the gunshots, leaving open the possibility of self-immolation.

No charges were filed against the woman.

On Monday afternoon, neighbors comforted the woman as she surveyed the damage to the house. The smell of a fire still hovered in the street, and soot stained the outside of the house. Crime scene tape stretched across the front door of her house as Fire Department arson investigators examined the building.

The woman would not give her name or discuss the confrontation other than to say she was not romantically involved with the man.

Mark Waller can be reached at (504) 883-7056.

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