Clare homeowner who shot, killed intruder acted in self-defense, prosecutor says

HARRISON, MI — Shortly before dawn one May morning, a mentally ill man walked into a Clare County home, proclaiming himself as Satan to its residents.

The tense and frightening situation turned tragic when the homeowner fatally shot the intruder.

A month on, prosecutors have ruled the shooting a justifiable case of self-defense and are declining to issue charges against the shooter.

Clare County Prosecutor Michelle J. Ambrozaitis announced on Wednesday, June 15, that she was not charging the homeowner who fatally shot 48-year-old Kevin M. Lighthall on May 5. In her statement, Ambrozaitis provided additional details of the incident and the subsequent investigation.

About 2 a.m. on May 5, Clare police responded to 911 calls of a man wandering around Rosewood Manor Apartments claiming he was “the State” and “owned the place.” Police determined the man in question was Lighthall, who had been asked to leave a unit by its resident.

Police first encountered Lighthall in the complex’s lobby. He told them he was “the owner of the place” and identified himself as “Satan,” Ambrozaitis wrote. Lighthall was not compliant with officers’ directions and returned to the unit he had been staying in.

Police then spoke with the unit’s resident, who told them Lighthall had been acting odd and scaring other tenants. They soon determined Lighthall was wanted on a warrant for failing to appear in court, but jail staff told them they could not house him, Ambrozaitis wrote.

Officers left the scene, only to be dispatched to a house in the 1100 block of McEwan Street at 6:08 a.m. after a woman called 911 to say her husband was holding an intruder at gunpoint.

Police arrived at the house and looked through a window to see Lighthall, recognizable from the clothes he was still wearing from earlier that morning, standing in the kitchen. When the first officer to arrive tried talking with Lighthall, the latter cursed at him and reiterated he was Satan, Ambrozaitis wrote.

More officers arrived and tried getting Lighthall to come outside. Eventually, Chief David Saad entered the house and Lighthall charged the male homeowner, who in turn fired three shots at him.

One shot struck Lighthall in the center of his chest; the other, through his abdomen.

Police announced their presence to the homeowner, who unloaded his gun and set it on the floor.

Though officers attempted to render aid to Lighthall, he succumbed to his wounds. Autopsy results showed Lighthall had recently ingested methamphetamine and marijuana, Ambrozaitis wrote.

The man who shot Lighthall told police he, his wife, and an 18-year-old friend were asleep when he was awakened by the sound of the floor creaking. He grabbed a gun and a flashlight and went to investigate, only to find Lighthall standing in his kitchen, he said.

The man repeatedly told Lighthall to leave. Lighthall responded to these entreaties by saying, “(Expletive) you. I’m Satan.”

“Shooting a firearm in self-defense or in defense of others requires an honest and reasonable belief … that he or another is in danger of being killed, seriously injured, or sexually assaulted,” Ambrozaitis wrote. “In this instance, Lighthall entered the home without permission and he was asked several times by the homeowner to leave. The homeowner placed himself between Lighthall and the remainder of the home where others were located.”

Ambrozaitis went on to write the homeowner showed great restraint and did not fire his gun until Lighthall charged at him.

In conclusion, the prosecutor wrote the homeowner was legally justified in shooting Lighthall and she would not be bringing criminal charges against him.

Lighthall was the father of four sons. His mother, Ruth Lighthall, previously spoke with MLive and detailed her son’s battle with mental illness, saying he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

The disorder includes delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking, with symptoms generally starting in the mid- to late 20s, according to The Mayo Clinic.

She said her son’s mental health went on a marked decline after his father’s May 2017 death from cancer.

“Kevin just went into this… just acting not normal,” Ruth Lighthall said. “He was talking in ways that made no sense to anybody. It just got progressively worse where you couldn’t carry on a conversation with him. He lived in a different world. He talked in rhymes, riddles, and codes that didn’t make sense to anybody but him.

“His dad could always seem to reach and understand him,” she continued. “When he died, he just didn’t ever seem to be what anybody would say was ‘normal’ again.”

MLive was unable to reach Ruth Lighthall after Ambrozaitis announced her decision not to charge her son’s killer. She previously told MLive she has no animosity toward the residents of the house her son died in.

“We’re struggling to make sense of this, but we don’t harbor any ill will towards anybody,” she said. “This is a tragedy all the way around, for our family and for those whose house he entered.”

Read more on MLive:

Mother mourns mentally ill son, father of 4 who died in home invasion

GoFundMe started for Clare father of 4 killed in home invasion as investigation continues

Police release name of Clare man killed by homeowner in alleged intrusion

Man shoots, kills alleged intruder in Clare County

Death – Obituary – Cause Of Death