A Newport Beach homeowner was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing for shooting and killing an intruder who broke into his home earlier this year, officials announced Monday.
The break-in happened around 4:10 a.m. Aug. 26, in the area of Indus Street and Redlands Drive.
Henry Lehr, 23, had allegedly left a residential detox center after telling staff that he was “hearing and seeing ‘demons,'” the Orange County District Attorney Office said in a news release.
He then broke into a backyard of a home a few doors down, then went to the front door and repeatedly banged on it and rang the doorbell, demanding to be let inside, officials said.
Lehr then allegedly broke down the front door and started walking upstairs, where the homeowner and his wife had been sleeping in their bedroom.
“The commotion at his front door woke up the homeowner, who retrieved his pistol and found an intruder, later identified as Lehr, on his stairs,” the DA’s office said. “The homeowner yelled at the intruder to identify himself and told him not to keep coming up the stairs.”
The intruder then allegedly “charged up the stairs.”
The homeowner then fired one shot, striking Lehr in the upper chest, officials said.
Lehr was later pronounced dead.
The homeowner told police that he shot Lehr because he feared for his life, according to the DA’s office.
“A homeowner has the absolute right to protect themselves from someone who breaks into their home in the middle of the night and threatens their safety,” O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “The loss of life is tragic in any situation and this situation is made even more tragic by the fact that an individual who went to a group home to get help with his addiction issues ended up on a deadly collision course with a homeowner who just sleeping in his own bed in his own house.”
Spitzer lambasted those at the home who allegedly knew that the man was struggling but didn’t check on him.
“People struggling with addiction issues need to have a safe environment where they can work toward sobriety and people living in residential neighborhoods should not have to live in fear of waking up to someone struggling with addiction breaking down their front door,” Spitzer said.