LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Police said Thursday they’re deciding whether to arrest an 80-year-old man who shot a fleeing, unarmed burglar despite her telling him she was pregnant, but they have arrested the woman’s accomplice on suspicion of murder for taking part in a crime that led to her death.
The homeowner, Tom Greer, was cooperating with investigators, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said at a news conference. But the chief wouldn’t say whether charges will be recommended when they turn over their case to prosecutors Friday.
He said Andrea Miller, 28, was not visibly pregnant but an autopsy would provide the answer.
Greer told KNBC-TV he shot Miller twice in the back as she ran away.
“She says, `Don’t shoot me, I’m pregnant – I’m going to have a baby,’ and I shot her anyway,” Greer said in the interview Wednesday.
The surviving suspect, Gus Adams, 26, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of residential burglary and murder, McDonnell said. The murder charge is possible because he is accused of being involved in a felony that led to a death, the chief said.
Both Miller and Adams were unarmed, McDonnell said.
Both had histories of similar crimes, and Greer, who had been burglarized three times before, believes the same suspects were responsible.
Greer returned home shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday to find the pair in his home. Both suspects attacked him, hitting him with their fists and ultimately “body slamming” him to the floor, breaking his collar bone, McDonnell said.
Miller continued to hit him, McDonnell said, while Adams moved to a safe and begin trying to pry it open.
The homeowner was able to get to another room where he grabbed a gun and returned to open fire on the suspects. They fled through the garage and into an alley, and the homeowner gave chase, firing at them again outside, McDonnell said.
Miller was hit, collapsed in the alley and died at the scene, McDonnell said.
“The lady didn’t run as fast as the man, so I shot her in the back twice,” Greer said in the TV interview. “She’s dead … but he got away.”
McDonnell would not say whether Miller was shot in the back as Greer said. He also declined to say how many shots were fired and whether either of the suspects was hit inside the house before fleeing.
The investigation was “still very much a fresh case and a working case,” he said.
It will be up to the district attorney to decide whether to charge Greer with a crime, the chief said. Under California law, homeowners can defend themselves if they are in “imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death,” he said.
Prosecutors will have to determine whether chasing after the suspects and firing on them outside the home goes beyond self-defense, McDonnell said.