Albuquerque man kills neighbor he claims shot at him

Posted at: 03/21/2013 8:57 PM
Updated at: 03/22/2013 7:42 AM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

How far would a person go to defend themselves or their neighbor is the question being asked after more details emerge in the city's latest fatal shooting.

It happened Tuesday night near Irving and Rainbow Boulevard.

"We heard the gunshot and that's when he came out," Mandy Hatfield, who lives in the area, said.

According to Albuquerque Police, it all started when a neighbor came home and saw Jonathan Mitchell, 23, standing in his driveway.

Mitchell allegedly pulled out a gun when the two made eye contact.

Someone from inside the home called another neighbor. That is when Donnie Pearson got involved. 

According to police, Pearson drove by the home and saw Mitchell run to his garage.

Police said, Mitchell shot at Pearson from his driveway and Pearson shot back and killed him.

"If somebody was threatening my family or my husband he would do the same thing," Hatfield said. "I totally agree with defending yourself."

Other neighbors expressed similar thoughts.

"In that case, if he's shooting at somebody else, then I'd take it upon myself to defend somebody else if I had the handgun," Robert Baca, who also lives nearby, said.

District Attorney Kari Brandenburg explained the law.

"You have the right to defend yourself, your family, or your property," Brandenburg said.

"You also can defend a third party if you think that they're in imminent danger." Brandenburg added, individuals also have the right to use reasonable force.

But what is reasonable given the circumstances is not always black and white.

"It would be a very hard situation to make a decision right away," Mary Tafoya, who also lives in the neighborhood, said.

Pearson is not facing any charges at this time.