District attorney clears Newport Beach homeowner of wrongdoing in fatal August shooting
Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer announced Monday that the Newport Beach homeowner involved in a fatal shooting in August has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.
The incident occurred in the early hours of Aug. 26. At around 4:10 a.m., the shooting victim — who has since been identified as 23-year-old Henry Lehr of Tuscon, Ariz. — departed a residential detox center, after having told staff he was hearing and seeing “demons,” according to the district attorney’s office.
Shortly thereafter, Lehr reportedly entered the backyard of a home a few doors away, in the area of Indus Street and Redlands Drive, before approaching the front door of another home.
At the second house he banged on the door and rang the doorbell, demanding to be let inside. He then broke down the door and walked up the staircase.
The homeowner, who had been sleeping upstairs, was awakened by the noise Lehr was making.
The homeowner gathered up his pistol and yelled at Lehr to identify himself and stop climbing up the stairs. When Lehr did not answer and continued advancing up the staircase, the homeowner fired one shot and hit Lehr in the upper chest. The homeowner’s wife called for police and medical aid. Newport Beach police reportedly found Lehr dead at the scene.
The homeowner later told officers that he fired in self defense, out of fear for his life, as well as his wife’s life.
“A homeowner has the absolute right to protect themselves from someone who breaks into their home in the middle of the night and threatens their safety,” said Spitzer in a statement.
“The loss of life is tragic in any situation and this situation is made even more tragic by the fact that an individual who went to a group home to get help with his addiction issues ended up on a deadly collision course with a homeowner who was just sleeping in his own bed in his own house,” said Spitzer. “I have fought against allowing group homes in residential neighborhoods my entire career, including as a member of the state Legislature, for this very reason.”
“People at that group home knew that young man was struggling — yet no one went to check on him. People struggling with addiction issues need to have a safe environment where they can work toward sobriety and people living in residential neighborhoods should not have to live in fear of waking up to someone struggling with addiction breaking down their front door,” Spitzer said.
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