Fight over feces leads to shooting, suspect claims self-defense

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- An apparently homeless man is in the hospital after a business owner shot him during a struggle early Saturday morning.

It happened at about 1 a.m. in the area of Ninth Avenue and Buchanan Street, which is north of Grant Street.

The 61-year-old business owner told police he fired in self-defense. Investigators are trying to determine if that was indeed the case.

It was initially thought that the business owner had shot an intruder on his property, but investigators determined that that was not exactly what happened.

According to Sgt. Tommy Thompson of the Phoenix Police Department, the business owner spotted  a homeless man sleeping outside the fenced area of his business/residence near Seventh Avenue and Buchanan Street.

The business owner told the younger man to leave. After spotting feces where the man had been lying, however, he demanded the younger man return and clean up the mess.

Thompson said the younger man ignored the business owner and walked away. Rather than letting him leave, however, the business owner followed him.

The two men got into a fight near the railroad tracks and Ninth Avenue, about a block from the business.

At some point during the fight, the younger man began swinging a chain and padlock at the business owner.

"The older man fell to the ground at one point and was in fear for his safety," Thompson said in a news release. "He fired a handgun he had at the younger man, missing him."

As the pair continued to grapple, the older man fired again. This time, the younger man was hit in the chest. He was taken to a local hospital. At last check, he was in stable condition and expected to survive.

The business owner called 911 right after the shooting.

Investigators have not released the names of the business owner or the wounded man.

At this point, it's not clear if the business owner, who is claiming self-defense, will be charged in connection with the shooting.

According to A.R.S. § 13-404, "a person is justified in threatening or using physical force against another when and to the extent a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful physical force."

The statute goes on to say that "verbal provocation alone" is not enough to justify use of physical force.

Thompson said the Maricopa County Attorney's Office will review the case and make the decision about whether to file charges.