A Montana man has been charged with homicide after allegedly setting a trap in his garage to lure a burglar and then shooting him before he could get away.
According to the complaint, Markus Kaarma's garage had been robbed a few times recently, and he was determined to catch the thief. He told his hairdresser a few days ago that he had been up all night with his shotgun, "waiting to shoot some fucking kid." Sort of like how my Welsh great aunt once waited up all night with a shotgun to kill the fox attacking her chickens, except that a fox is not a human being.
Kaarma finally got his chance early Sunday morning. According to the AP, he and his wife left the garage door open with a purse inside to tempt any would-be thieves. They put sensors outside the garage and had a video camera. When the sensors went off and they saw someone in the garage on the video, Kaarma ran outside with his shotgun. He couldn't see inside the garage but heard "a noise that sounded like metal on metal," so, fearing that whoever was in the garage might try to harm him, he shot into the darkness four times. He told the police that he made sure to shoot high to avoid hitting his car. He also said that he "didn't want the male to get away and that he wanted him to be caught. He stated that the police can't catch burglars in the act."
Even though he said he couldn't see anything, Kaarma managed to hit his target twice, in the arm and the head. It turned out to be a 17-year-old boy named Diren Dede, a junior at the local high school and exchange student from Germany. According to The Missoulian, Dede was "a very loved student" who played soccer and ran track. KECI said he lived in Kaarma's neighborhood.
While Kaarma has been charged with a homicide, his actions may be justifiable in court. Montana is one of several states with a "castle doctrine" law that allows people to use firearms to defend their homes as long as there is a real threat to their lives or if "the use of force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other's unlawful entry into or attack upon an occupied structure." Should this go to a trial, the state will have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Kaarma's actions were not in self-defense.
Kaarma appeared in court today and posted $30,000 bond. His attorney, Paul Ryan, told reporters that his client felt "terrible" about Dede's death but was "disappointed" that he was being charged with murdering him.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.