Posted at: 11/24/2012 2:33 PM
Updated at: 11/30/2012 5:18 PM
By: Mark Saxenmeyer
Authorities have arrested a Morrison County man who says he shot and killed two people breaking into his home.
The Morrison County Sheriff's Office says around 1 p.m. Friday they received a call of suspicious activity at a residence near Riverwood Drive north of Little Falls. Responding deputies met with 64-year-old Byron Smith at his home on the 14000 block of Elm Street, north of Little Falls.
Smith told deputies he had shot and killed two people breaking into his home around noon the day before, the sheriff's office says. Deputies found the bodies of a 17-year-old boy and an 18-year-old woman in the basement of Smith's home.
Five Eyewitness News sources identified the two as Nicholas Brady and Haile Kifer. The sources say they're cousins. Several students who attended school with Brady said they're not surprised by his alleged involvement in a burglary, claiming he was always in trouble at school and ran with the wrong crowd.
During the investigation, deputies and agents from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension say they discovered information that led to Smith's arrest for suspected second-degree murder. Formal charges are pending with the Morrison County Attorney's Office.
"A person has every right to defend themselves and their homes, even employing deadly force if necessary," Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said in a news release. "Circumstances of this case however, led deputies to believe that Smith went beyond that point."
Friends of Smith, a retired government worker, say he failed to alert authorities immediately about the shootings because he was traumatized and panicked. They say his home had been burglarized several times before, and he believed the same individuals had returned again to victimize him.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office will perform autopsies to identify the victims and determine an exact cause of death. A witness who had been inside the home told 5 Eyewitness News there was evidence of several gun shots and a pool of blood on the basement floor.
More details are expected to be released by Morrison County officials after Smith's initial court appearance Monday.
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org