Vietnam vet kills intruder, then is mistakenly shot dead by police

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AURORA, Colo. (CNN) — A case of mistaken identity left a man dead after protecting his family from an invader.

Officers were dispatched to an Aurora, Colo., home around 1:30 Monday morning. They heard gunshots coming from inside the house, according to Aurora Police Department Chief Nick Metz.

Upon entering, officers saw a dead body lying on the bathroom floor, and assumed he was a victim of the invasion. Then, Metz said, they saw Richard “Gary” Black, 73, standing in the living room — alive — and armed. He was perceived as the perpetrator, so they opened fire.

But Black was not the invader. He lived there.

‘A very, very violent and complex situation’

Metz detailed the following events in a press conference: When officers arrived to the home, there was yelling. A number of people were standing outside the home, including Black’s wife. When officers passed her, she said “he has a gun.”

Richard "Gary" Black was taken to a hospital where he died from his injuries.

Richard “Gary” Black was taken to a hospital where he died from his injuries.

Then, shots rung out from inside. Black emerged shortly after, with a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other. Standing by the front door, within 15 to 20 feet of Black, officers commanded Black to drop the weapon and put his hands up several times.

“We don’t know why, but for whatever reason, Mr. Black did not drop the gun,” Metz said.

Black raised the flashlight, and it was then that an officer fired four rounds at him, he said.

Black had just shot the intruder, identified by police and the coroner’s office as 26-year-old Dajon Harper. Harper, naked, continuously knocked on the Blacks’ door, eventually knocking it off its hinges.

Everyone in the house — Black, his wife, Jeanette, and 11-year-old grandson — was asleep. Harper went after the grandson and dragged him into the bathroom, according to the APD.

Metz did not go into detail about the attack, but said he was “violently assaulted.”

Mrs. Black called 9-1-1. She reported the attacker was in the bathroom hurting her grandson, and that there was blood everywhere.

Mrs. Black declined a request for comment by CNN.

The officers did not realize Black was a resident until “further investigation,” the APD’s initial statement said.

“(Officers) were confronted by a very, very violent and complex situation, and within two minutes, if that, had to make some very, very critical decisions,” Metz said.

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