On Saturday, the owner of a vacant house in Antioch shot and killed a man apparently trying to steal copper wire. And Tuesday morning in Brentwood, one man is in critical condition and another is at large following an attempted break-in of an off-duty police officer’s house.
Antioch Police did not arrest the homeowner after the fatal shooting. Officers say the man has cooperated with the investigation. Since the Antioch Police Department believes the shooting was done in self-defense, it does not plan to file charges. But Acting Captain Leonard Orman said the district attorney’s office would make the final decision once the investigation is complete.
The man, who owns a few vacant properties in Antioch, was making a routine check on one of his homes on the 200 block of West 17th Street on Saturday at about 2:45 p.m. When the homeowner entered the building, he discovered a man apparently attempting to steal copper wire from the house. Orman said that the homeowner’s properties have been hit repeatedly by copper thieves.
While the Antioch Police Department doesn’t keep statistics on copper wire theft, Orman acknowledged that it has been a problem throughout the area. Antioch City Engineer Ron Bernal noted at a recent City Council meeting that the city spent $60,000 in the first four months of the year repairing damage done to municipal facilities in those kinds of incidents.
“He has made a habit of going over to these properties on a regular basis, if not daily, and checking them,” Orman said. “The damage that he’s been suffering is so great.”
Police say the man threatened the homeowner, who defended himself by shooting the man several times. The homeowner then called police.
Orman noted that residential burglaries have been on the rise in his city, especially with the abundance of vacant properties. From June through August of 2011, 99 more burglaries occurred than in the same time frame last year. The acting captain said he’s noticed that many criminals who perform robberies have been switching to burglaries in an effort to snatch a better bounty.
“We certainly do see folks that are having to deal with the issue of squatters and thieves more often than before,” Orman said. “There’s been a continuous rise, really, in the last five years.”
While Antioch’s break-in involved a vacant home, the attempted burglar in Brentwood on Tuesday tried to enter the house of an off-duty police officer. Police refused to name the officer involved in the shooting, saying only that he is not a member of the Brentwood Police Department.
The incident occurred around 11:40 a.m. in the 1800 block of Fiorita Way. The homeowner surprised the two men as they attempted to break into the house. The officer shot one of the suspects in the abdomen.
According to Lt. Tom Hansen of the Brentwood Police Department, the injured suspect was flown by helicopter to Eden Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery. At press time he was listed in critical condition.
According to Brentwood Police Chief Mark Evenson, officials believe the suspects might have tried to break into a different house in the same neighborhood only 15 minutes earlier.
“They took some screens off the window and pried it open with a crowbar,” said Evenson.
A search remains underway for the second suspect, who fled the scene on foot.
“We don’t have anything new to report right now,” said Hansen. “The manhunt is still going on.”
Staff writer Ruth Roberts contributed to this story.