The backyard of Joan Rutherford, where a body was found by police. Her neighbor, Bryan Loyer, shot and killed a man who apparently was trying to break into his house at 4546 Douglas Ave. in Toledo.
The Blade/Lori King
Police are still trying to determine why a Toledo man was in a Douglas Road neighborhood Saturday morning, allegedly trying to break into a home.
The homeowner, Bryan Loyer, 45, of 4546 Douglas Rd., fired three shots at Lucas Hassen, 24, who died of a single gunshot wound in his chest, authorities said. Mr. Loyer told police he awoke to the sound of a side door being kicked in, grabbed a gun, found the door open, and heard glass breaking in the back.
Mr. Loyer told police he saw someone with what he thought was a bat smashing the back windows, but police said the implement was a garden hose with an attachment. Mr. Loyer told police that he warned the alleged intruder several times to stop and said he was armed, but the person continued after the first shot, Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said.
He said the homeowner called 911 shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday, described the alleged intruder, and said the man had fled. Police found Mr. Hassen dead in a nearby yard.
“We are continuing to try to piece together the events of that evening,” Sergeant Heffernan said. “Right now we don’t know what he was doing there.”
Robert Hassen of Swanton said he was confident his son was not burglarizing the home. “What happened ... during those moments, it’s beyond [me] to comprehend,” he said. “The only thing I can tell you about [is] his personality. It was not theft.”
In a previous interview, he described his son, a University of Toledo graduate living in Point Place, as “mild-mannered.” He said his son went to dinner and a bar that evening with friends, then separated from the group.
The younger Mr. Hassen worked full time for Perf-A-Lawn, a Toledo lawn-management company, as a lawn-care applicator. Owner John Huffman said Mr. Hassen joined the firm in March, 2012.
Sergeant Heffernan said police’s last-known whereabouts for Mr. Hassen places him with family members about 8 p.m., but he declined to provide specifics. Mr. Hassen’s car was found but not in the area where the shooting took place, he said. He would not say where the vehicle was.
A neighbor on Saturday said she heard a knock at two of her doors that night but didn’t open them. She saw police outside about 30 minutes later.
Sergeant Heffernan said he doesn’t know why Mr. Hassen allegedly tried to enter Mr. Loyer’s house. “I think it seemed ... pretty obvious that [Mr. Hassen] was not acting in a rational way. What he was doing there or why he was doing it, I don’t know if we’ll ever know,” he said.
Dr. Cynthia Beisser of the Lucas County Coroner’s Office ruled the death a homicide. She said toxicology results could take 8 to 12 weeks. Jeff Lingo of the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office said a completed investigation would be reviewed when it is available before considering any actions,
Mr. Loyer could not be reached for comment Monday.
Ohio law presumes a resident inside his house is “acting in self-defense” if he uses force against an intruder attempting to enter, said Bridget Purdue Riddell, a Columbus criminal defense attorney, about the state’s so-called “castle laws.” She said it is presumed a resident inside his home believes he is in immediate danger if someone is unlawfully trying to enter or has entered. In such a case, the homeowner does not have to retreat.
“If [an intruder] is in the process of trying to enter the house, then these special protections for [the] homeowner would apply,” she said Monday by phone. “It is all going to come down to what the evidence shows.”
A prosecutor could try to show “there was some other reason for a use of force” besides self-defense, said Greg Gilchrist, a University of Toledo criminal law professor.
Staff writer Tom Troy contributed to this report. Contact Vanessa McCray at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6065.