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Man, 80, 'did what he had to do,' killing home invader
Illinois

Original Chicago Sun Times Article Here

May 26, 2010
By KIM JANSSEN Staff Reporter

An 80-year-old Army veteran shot and killed an armed man who’d broken in to the two-flat where he and his wife live in East Garfield Park early this morning and fired at him.

He did what his son said “he had to do” after having vowed not to be victimized again following a robbery months earlier.

Neither the man nor his wife was hurt.

He was questioned by police and released without any charges being filed.

The dead man has a history of drug and weapons convictions. Police said they are continuing to investigate.

When he returned home, the man, 80 — who walked with the aid of a walking stick and wore a T-shirt emblazoned with President Obama’s face and name — told a reporter he didn’t want to talk about what had happened.

His 57-year-old son, though, said his father was “sorry that it happened, but it had to be him or us.”

The son said the intruder, armed with a pistol, came in through a rear window and ran up a rear staircase, banging on his locked door before running downstairs and being shot in a confrontation with the older man.

The intruder shot first before the veteran fired back and killed him, the son said and police confirmed.

“Evidently, he missed,” the son said of the intruder. "My father had no choice. It was him or the other guy.

“I heard boom-boom-boom, and there he was by the back door,” said the son, who was upstairs sleeping at the time of the break-in shortly after 5 a.m.

Walking slowly from the police car that brought them home, the couple returned to their home at noon. They slowly climbed the steps to their front door and went inside.

A couple of months ago, the man — a Korean war veteran with three children and six grandkids — had been robbed at gunpoint at his home by three intruders, his son said. The robbers took $150, he said — and his father bought a gun and vowed never to be a victim again.

“If homeowners can’t have guns to defend themselves and their families, there’s going to be more home invasions,” the son said. “My father’s glad he had a weapon. He did what he had to do.”

The son said he recognized the intruder from the neighborhood.

Though police hadn’t publicly identified the dead man, his mother said it was Anthony Nelson, 29, of the 3300 block of West Walnut.

Nelson had a history of drug and weapons convictions and was last released from prison in December, Lenora Nelson said and Illinois Department of Corrections records confirmed. Nelson was free on parole, the records show.

Nelson was studying to be a carpenter, his mother said, and was due to start a job next week clearing out homes.

She said he ate his favorite dinner with her Tuesday night — steak burritos — and that she hadn’t seen him since 9 p.m.

Of the man who shot her son, she said she has “no feelings for him at all.”

Neighbors applauded the elderly man’s actions.

“It’s a good thing they had a gun, or they might be dead,” said Curtis Thompson, who lives next to the couple.

Thompson reflected on the break-in and added, “It could have been us.”

“I’d have done the same thing," said another neighbor, Audrey Williams, who has known the couple for more than 40 years. "They say we've got to give up our guns. But that's crazy."

The break-in happened at 5:22 a.m., according to police, when an armed man entered the home in the 600 block of North Sawyer Avenue on Chicago’s West Side, awakening the homeowner, who shot him.

Neighbors said the elderly couple are longtime residents of the block.

“They’re a nice, loving couple,” another neighbor, Shaquite Johnson, said of the elderly man and woman.

Posted on Thursday, May 27, 2010 @ 12:11:05 CDT by ShaunKranish
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