BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A homeowner who shot and killed a man who tried to break into his home south of Grand Rapids early Thursday said he felt he had no other option.
“I told him to go away, ‘I have a gun on you,’ and he would not go away and kept advancing on us. So…” homeowner Alan Lenhart said later Thursday morning. “We had to do it. There was no way around it. Absolutely no way around it.”
The Kent County Sheriff’s Office said that shortly after midnight, the intruder tried to break into a house on 108th Street SW near Wilson Avenue in Byron Township. Sgt. Eric Brunner told News 8 that the suspect was armed with a handgun.
Lenhart told reporters that he and his wife saw the man knocking the windows out of his pickup truck.
“We yelled at him to go away. He proceeded to advance on us. We shut the door, locked him out, called 911,” he said. “I loaded my deer hunting gun.”
He said he had to get the gun out of his safe.
The stranger then went around to the back of the home, Lenhart said.
“When he was in the backyard, he was going, ‘Give me the keys, give me the keys,’ and kept approaching,” he said.
The intruder then went up the back steps. Lenhart said the door at the top of those steps is barricaded but the man was pushing on it, trying to get in. He said he managed to get the door partially open.
“I told him, ‘Go away, I’ve got a shotgun on you,’ and he kept coming,” he said.
“Then he started shooting at me. Bullets going past your head, like that,” he continued, pointing with his finger. “Took cover. And he was going back down, run away.”
It’s unclear exactly how many shots in total were fired.
In all, Lenhart said, it was probably five minutes between when he first saw the man and when he shot him.
“Maybe a little bit longer, but not much,” he said.
When deputies arrived, they found the intruder, 39-year-old Christopher Worth of Middleville, near the home. He died at the scene, the sheriff’s office said.
Records show Worth has a criminal history dating back to 2000 with convictions for drug offenses, vandalism and unarmed and armed robbery. The Michigan Department of Corrections listed him as a parole absconder at the time of his death.
Investigators are looking into the possibility that Worth was involved in similar crime recently.
“It’s certainly something we’re going to vet. This person has a pretty substantial criminal history,” Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said.
Deputies believe Worth may have been involved in a car crash in Allegan County and two vehicle thefts overnight, and that he tried to steal a car along 108th Street.
The homeowner said it was his understanding Worth’s stolen car had broken down just down the street and he was looking for another one.
Lenhart said he didn’t understand why Worth tried to knock the windows out of the locked truck and expected the keys to be in it.
“He was crazy,” Lenhart said.
Asked if it was tough to do what he did, Lenhart replied, “Oh, yeah. Sure. For sure.”
“Religious man, so it’s still tough,” he said, appearing to tear up. “Scared to death. Who knows when we’ll be done with that, I guess. Hard to go back in your own home after this happens in it.”
He has lived in the home 28 years.
—News 8’s Joe LaFurgey contributed to this report.