A Chandler, Arizona, man who told police he shot an intruder on New Year’s Eve has been arrested after evidence shows he lied and the victim was actually his friend.
Nathaniel Thomas, 19, called 911 on New Year’s Eve to report he had shot an intruder in his home, The Republic reports. He said he was making breakfast when he saw a man he did not know enter his apartment through the patio’s sliding door. The man looked angry, Thomas told police, and reached into his sweatshirt, so he pulled out his gun and shot him in self-defense.
Thomas’ story was a lie, according to Chandler Police Department Detective Seth Tyler.
Officers confronted Thomas about his intruder story with witness and forensic evidence that contradicted it, but he initially held to his fabrication.
It was revealed during the investigation that Thomas knew the victim, Gage Bodenheimer. Police spoke with witnesses who had spent the night at Thomas’ home and determined Bodenheimer was also sleeping there that morning.
Bodenheimer was asleep on the floor when Thomas allegedly pointed a gun to his head to wake him up as part of a joke. Thomas did not think the gun was loaded, but when he pulled the trigger a round was released.
Bodenheimer died at the scene, ABC 15 reports.
Thomas is reportedly a competitive shooter.
"He's been around guns his whole life. In fact, it's known (that) he always has a gun on him," Tyler said. "Mr. Thomas believed that he unloaded his weapon. He removed the magazine and he believe he cycled the round out of the chamber."
Witnesses told police they saw Thomas standing over Bodenheimer’s body, according to The Republic.
Thomas changed his story again after the evidence was presented to him, claiming Bodenheimer reached for the gun and it went off.
Bodenheimer’s mother, Jennifer Fisher, told ABC 15 she suspected Thomas was lying.
"I knew that wasn't true. He's never been in trouble," Fisher said. "(My son) was a hugger, the touchy feely guy, that every time he saw me he would hug me. I just want him to come back through the door."
She thinks Thomas was “just being stupid and careless.”
"He's just a kid, he's just a kid himself and even though I'm going through this and I lost my son. He's going to lose something too," Fisher said.
Thomas was charged with second-degree murder and indifference to human life.