An alleged burglar is dead after being tied to a tree by the owner of the home that the man was suspected of breaking into.
Nathanial Johnson, 68, tied the man up in an attempt to stop a series of burglaries that had plagued his home in Mobile, Alabama. Deputies say that Nathanial's attempt to catch alleged burglar Cleveland Gully, 31, went wrong, ending with Cleveland dead and tied to a tree, according to WALA.
"I don't think he was intending to kill the intruder," said Washington County Sheriff Richard Stringer. "I think he wanted to capture him and have him arrested."
Johnson's home had reportedly been broken into before, and he had planned to stop the alleged intruder to prevent it from happening again. He reportedly hid his car at a neighbor's house to make it seem like no one was home, while he waited with the lights off and a mirror positioned near the window.
That night, Cleveland allegedly broke the lock on Johnson's home, and Johnson tackled the man to the ground, tying Cleveland's hands behind his back. After that, Johnson "began to tie him to the tree still in the standing-up position," according to Stringer.
Stringer added that Cleveland had been tied with rope from a clothesline and electrical wire, along with "multiple layers of masking tape that [Johnson] had wrapped around his mouth and all the way around his head."
Johnson then called authorities from a neighbor's house to arrest Cleveland. Johnson said that when he left, Cleveland still appeared to be alive, with no indication that he was dying. By the time police arrived about 10 minutes later, however, Cleveland was already dead. The cause of death is not yet clear.
Michael Gully, Cleveland's uncle, said that he was shocked by his nephew's death.
"I was surprised that it happened," Michael said. "He just wasn't a violent person that I know of."
Johnson's niece, Simone Johnson, also expressed surprise at the incident.
"He doesn't bother anybody. He'll help you if you need helping, so the family just hates what happened," said Simone. "I know the other guy. His family is hurting, too, but we are also and we hate that, and I hope that we can just get this resolved soon."
Stringer said that Johnson was not armed, AL.com reports. Cleveland was reported to have no visible injuries except for cuts from the wires used to tie him.
Criminal charges have not been filed, though Johnson will be held for at least 72 hours while forensic evidence is examined.