ANAHEIM (CBSLA) — A suspected car burglar was shot and killed by a homeowner who caught him in the act, police said.
But questions have emerged over whether the resident could face charges.
The incident unfolded just after 2:30 a.m. Saturday in the 800 block of S. Westchester Drive. It was there that police say a homeowner was alerted by his security camera when 20-year-old Malik Mustafa Schwiat tripped the motion sensor.
Authorities say Schwiat was breaking into a car and the homeowner walked out and allegedly confronted him with a gun.
“During that confrontation, the vehicle burglar was shot one time,” said Sgt. Shane Carringer of the Anaheim Police Department.
Schwiat was taken to a hospital where he later died.
The homeowner has been cooperative with investigators. So far, he has not been arrested.
Detectives are working to verify the man’s story and figure out if this was a case of self-defense, and whether the shooting was justified.
“He’s in for a long road, this is going to be a long, very stressful process I’m sure for the homeowner and his family,” the sergeant said. “It’s something to be very cognizant of before you do anything like this, because there are oftentimes unintended consequences that can come from these situations.”
Detectives are working to track down a possible accomplice in the break-in. In the meantime, they say Schwiat had a rap sheet, which is why neighbors are glad the family involved wasn’t hurt.
“He was just trying to protect his family,” said Anthony Aravalo, a resident in the area. “You never know how you’re going to react at that time.”
Legal experts say deadly force cannot be used to protect one’s property. In other words, if someone is breaking into one’s car, the best thing to do is to stay inside and call police.