A Georgia teen is dead after being shot by his friend's father, who mistook the boy for a burglar.
Police responded to a burglary call in the early morning hours of Feb. 25 and found 17-year-old Jordan Middleton dead from a gunshot wound to the chest in the home in Grovetown, according to WJBF.
The homeowner's 14-year-old daughter had snuck Middleton into the house.
The trouble began when the girl's father, Derrick Fulton, heard noises downstairs. When the family dog started barking, Fulton grabbed his handgun and went to investigate.
Standing outside the guest bedroom, Fulton said aloud that he was armed and told the intruder to identify themselves. There was no answer.
He called out another warning before entering the room, at which point Middleton emerged from the closet and Fulton fired a shot into his chest. When police arrived Middleton was lying dead in the foyer.
No charges have yet been filed. Under Georgia law, a homeowner is allowed to use deadly force to protect themselves against a perceived threat.
"He knew there was a stranger in the house and he was protecting himself and protecting his family," Maj. Steve Morris of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office told WJBF. "Whether inside of the home or not, an individual can use force to stand their ground and use force without retreating to protect themselves or a third party against a threat or a perceived threat."
Mack Taylor, assistant district attorney for Richmond County, explained that Fulton's action would be legally justified if he believed that Middleton had entered his home with the intent to commit a felony or harm his family.
"Given that this event was occurring at roughly 3 o’clock in the morning, in a room that’s unoccupied and subsequently we find out as the homeowner enters the room someone springs from the closet I would think it would go to his reasonable belief that this person was there to do harm and commit a felony," he said.
Middleton's friends spoke kindly of him and lamented his death.
"I remember Jordan as my best friend," Trelen Murphy told WFXG. "I would never forget Jordan. He was so close to me, I can just remember him with ease. I think about him all the time. It's easy. I can't forget him."
"If you were around him, you would laugh," another friend said. "He don't even have to do anything -- you would just laugh because he was just that great of a person. His smile was contagious, his laugh was contagious. Everything he did was just funny. He was never in a bad mood at all."