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Homeowner shoots intruder

Originally ran here as:
"Homeowner shoots intruder"
by Doug Guthrie
The Grand Rapids Press
November 16, 2001

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN -- Awakened by the sound of kicking at his front door, a Southeast Side man confronted and shot an intruder in his living room early today, then shot some more as he chased the burglar outside.

The 50-year-old homeowner, who lives alone in the 800 block of Merritt Street SE, shot the intruder twice with a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun.

Police said they caught the intruder two blocks away and rushed him to Saint Mary's Mercy Medical Center, where he was treated for wounds that were not life-threatening. It wasn't clear where he was struck.

Shots struck three homes across the street in the neighborhood southeast of Eastern Avenue and Burton Street SE.

"You never think nothing like this will ever happen to you," the homeowner, Sherman L. Rose, said about two hours after the shooting. "I'm a little scared right now, but I'll be OK."

The shooting was reported about 7:15 a.m., moments after Rose was awakened by the kicking, said Grand Rapids Police Detective Phil Betz.

"He comes down the stairs and as soon as he gets to the bottom, the front door flies open," Betz said. "He says something to the guy, and the guy makes a move. That's when the first shot is fired."

The homeowner chased the intruder, described as a teen-age male, out the front door, firing his 9 mm semi-automatic as he went, Betz said. Neighbors said they heard six shots.

The intruder ran across Burton and Eastern to the front porch of a relative's home in the 700 block of Ardmore Street SE, police said. Relatives called police.

Rose said he didn't want to discuss details of the shooting.

Across the street, one bullet penetrated the second-floor of a house, another struck a house just above the living room windows, and a third house was struck in the siding at the bottom of an enclosed front porch. Nobody else was injured.

"We heard it, but by the time we looked out we didn't see anything," said Jennifer Ziegler, whose house was struck by gunfire. "We thought we'd hear the sirens, but when we didn't we figured everything was OK. This is usually a very quiet neighborhood."

When examining the hole in the siding above her living room window, Ziegler said, "Oh yeah, that wasn't there before. Lovely."

Evidence technicians marked and photographed spent shell casings ejected from the gun in the homeowner's front yard, finding some on the sidewalk.

Police took Rose's gun with two clips of ammunition. Betz said the gun is properly registered and equipped with a trigger lock.

Detectives questioned Rose in his home. Betz described the man as gainfully employed. "He doesn't appear to be someone who would bring anything like this onto himself," Betz said.

After police left, Rose used a large hammer to pound his front door back into place. Then he sat on the sofa in his living room, shivering.

Police said they planned to turn over the investigation to the Kent County Prosecutor's Office, which would determine whether the shooting was justified.

Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth's most recent rulings have been on the side of merchants who fire in self defense, though the targets in those cases were clearly armed with guns.

In January 2000, the prosecutor declined to bring charges against a store owner who chased a gun-carrying robber from Boston Square Lock and Key, at 1254 Kalamazoo Ave. SE. One bullet from Rick DeHaan's 9-mm handgun struck the robber in the arm.

In September 1999, Forsyth also decided against charging the owner of a Southeast Side cellular telephone store who exchanged gunshots with a would-be robber. Stan Schley fired two shots at a man who he said pulled a gun on him inside his store at 2024 Eastern Avenue SE. The bandit fled, apparently unscathed.

A decade ago, Rockford District Judge Steven Servaas tossed out the charges against a man who fired into the side of a car being used by four teen-agers to flee after they broke into his store on Camp Lake.

The judge cited Norris Sprague's right to use deadly force to halt fleeing felons, even though the criminals weren't known to be armed.


Shooter will not be charged

Originally ran here as:
"Shooter will not be charged"
by Doug Guthrie and Tanda Gmiter
The Grand Rapids Press
November 20, 2001

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN -- Calling the shooting justifiable, Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth will not charge a Southeast Side man with wounding a teen who reportedly kicked in the man's front door last week.

Sherman L. Rose, 50, shot the 16-year-old boy in the leg and upper chest.

"In fairness to this homeowner, he shouldn't have to worry about this over the Thanksgiving holiday," Forsyth said today. "It was a pretty clear cut thing."

State law permits the use of deadly force when life is threatened or a felony has been committed and force is necessary to apprehend the fleeing felon.

The suspect remains under police guard in Saint Mary's Mercy Medical Center. The youth has yet to be charged with any crime.

Because of his status as a juvenile -- he turns 17 at the end of the month -- a hearing may first be required in Kent County Family Court to determine if he should be charged as an adult. Police, who have declined to identify the youth, said they have had prior contact with him as a criminal suspect.

The shooting occurred about 7:15 a.m. Friday in the entryway of Rose's home on Merrit Street SE.

Rose told investigators he carried his 9 mm semiautomatic handgun downstairs when awakened. He said he reached the bottom of the stairs just as the front door burst open. The teen stood no more than 10 feet away.

While police don't believe the teen was armed, Rose told detectives the intruder "made a move," and he started shooting.

Neighbors reported hearing as many as six shots. Bullets struck three houses across from Rose's home. Police found spent cartridges from the gun on Rose's front lawn.

The wounded teen ran two blocks and collapsed on a relative's porch. His relatives called police.

Police confiscated Rose's properly registered handgun and the trigger lock Rose had used on it.

This is the second time in 15 months that Forsyth has decided a high-profile shooting is justified.

In August 2000, the prosecutor declined to charge a West Side Party Store clerk who shot and wounded a man who allegedly implied he had a gun and grabbed cash from the store's till.

Forsyth's stance was criticized largely because the clerk was intoxicated at the time of the shooting. The clerk's blood-alcohol level was 0.145, above the level considered drunk under state motor vehicle laws.

Friday's case also is similar to one in 1989, when charges were pressed against a Sparta party store owner who shot at a car containing four teens fleeing after two attempted to break into the man's closed store. One of his bullets pierced the car door and struck a female passenger. The store owner was charged, but the judge eventually dismissed the charges, saying the shopkeeper had the right to use deadly force.


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When you disarm your subjects, you offend them by showing that either from cowardliness or lack of faith, you distrust them; and either conclusion will induce them to hate you. NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI

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