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Guns... or Not?

Intruder killed by homeowner
Couple 'pretty shook up' over shooting


By Jennifer Dobner
Deseret News
Monday, May 22, 2000

Mike Kooyman didn't sleep much Sunday night. Instead, he was keeping watch over his parents.

"They're pretty shook up, they've been in tears," Kooyman said. "My dad came in to me at about 3 a.m. and said, 'Son, I killed a man.'"

Kooyman's father shot and killed an intruder in the couple's West Central City home about 2:45 a.m. Sunday. The intruder, who remained unidentified Monday morning, pounded on a sliding glass door until it broke and then entered the home, Salt Lake Police Lt. Jim Jensen said.

"From what my dad told me (the intruder) looked at my dad with death in his eyes and said 'Adios, amigos'; they were terrified," Kooyman said. "My dad fired a couple of shots to the side as a warning, but he came at them violently."

Kooyman's parents, who do not share the same last name as their six children, have asked that their names not be used in the paper. Police have confiscated the man's .40-caliber handgun that was used in the shooting.

Just before the man broke into the home, the couple was awakened by their barking dog. They called police and yelled at the man to leave, but he still entered the home, police said.

The intruder was hit by one bullet and pronounced dead at LDS Hospital, Jensen said. The dead man had been tentatively identified by police Monday morning, but his name was not being released pending that verification, Lt. Jim Hill said. The homeowners told police they did not recognize the man.

Sunday's shooting, which is classified as a homicide, will be screened with the district attorney, who ultimately will decide if the action was self-defense or warrants criminal charges, Hill said.

"From the standpoint of the police, at this point, it looks like a justifiable situation," he said. "The Utah Code is pretty specific." The criminal code titled "force and defense of habitation" states that a person is justified in using force that is "intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury" when "the entry is made or attempted in a violent and tumultuous manner . . . and he reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent the assault." The code also states a person is justified in using force if he believes the intent of the intruder is to commit a felony.

Police are unsure if the dead man broke into the home in order to rob it or with the intent to harm the residents, Hill said. It is possible the man was in the wrong place or may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he said.

The State Medical Examiner's Office was to perform an autopsy on the man's body Monday.

Kooyman said his parents were afraid to go to sleep after the incident. His father, who is an avid hunter and taught Kooyman and his siblings about gun safety, is not a violent person, Kooyman said.

"I can't imagine him intentionally hurting another person, but what choice did he have?" he said.

Other family members said Sunday they believe their parents would have been killed if not for the gun.

"If they were unarmed they wouldn't be here today. I don't think (the intruder) was there to steal anything, but he was there to hurt them," their daughter said. "Unfortunately, the elderly are the ones that often get victimized. I don't think they should be forced to put bars on their windows, but that's how older people have to live nowadays. We are definitely pro-gun rights. I'm going to go get one tomorrow."

Kooyman said his father does want gun-rights advocates to hold the shooting up as an example of why individual freedoms should be protected. Although he does have a concealed weapons permit, Kooyman's father resigned his membership in the National Rifle Association because he disagreed with some of the NRA's actions.

But Kooyman, who said he and his father have often talked about what they might do if someone broke into their homes, said he hoped his dad would again do whatever was necessary to protect himself.

"If his life or my mother's life was threatened, I hope he would. I know it sounds selfish, but I would be the victim's family otherwise." he said. " My dad's really passive. He doesn't feel good about this in any way."

Deseret News staff writer Brady Snyder contributed to this report.

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