Barbara Mruczek came home to find her 22-year-old son, Robert, on the phone with police — reporting a break-in he witnessed and the gunshot he heard 30 seconds later.
“My son noticed a man pick up a rock or something and smash it through the back door. When he saw that, he called police and then heard a gunshot,” she said, adding that police arrived swiftly before her son even finished describing what happened.
The back of the Mruczek home off Westport Circle faces the back of 5011 Lockwood Blvd., where police believe the homeowner shot the man breaking into his home about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.
A second man was with the alleged home invader and appeared to be waiting in a green Dodge car, police said.
The second man “was trying to leave the scene when a school bus blocked his exit, so he bailed out of the car through the back yard,” said Boardman police Capt. Donald Hawkins.
He was apprehended in Mruczek’s rear yard.
“I was surprised because this is a very quiet neighborhood,” Mruczek said.
She said her family occasionally would say hello to the homeowner, whom she also described as “quiet.”
Police said they had identified all three men, but declined to release their names Tuesday night. Mahoning County Auditor Office’s records list Kevin Neal as the owner of the Lockwood Boulevard home.
“The homeowner confronted [the alleged home invader] in the kitchen,” Hawkins said of the deceased man. “... I don’t know how many shots, I can just tell you he’s deceased.”
Police took both the homeowner and the driver into custody for questioning.
The homeowner initially declined to let police search the home.
After the homeowner retained Atty. J. Gerald Ingram, he gave permission for police to go through the house without a search warrant. Police believe weapons were in the home. The Mahoning County offices of coroner and prosecutor were contacted.
When asked if the event was random, Hawkins said: “I can’t say that.”
Police later said it appears the homeowner and home invader knew one another.
Lisa and Bill Slipkovich live across the street on Lockwood Boulevard. Their 16-year-old son, Billy, was getting off of the school bus that blocked the driver from leaving the scene.
Lisa saw Billy exit the bus at the same time police cruisers arrived.
“I heard the cops yelling, ‘Get down’” to the fleeing suspect, she said. “I made my son get up the driveway and onto the porch.”
Lisa said she looked across the street and saw her neighbor meet police in the garage doorway with his hands up, acting calm.
About two years ago, the Slipkovich home was burglarized once and another break-in was attempted. Lisa said police caught those responsible.
Because of her experience, Lisa said she pays closer attention to her surroundings. On Tuesday, she noticed a green Dodge car on Lockwood Boulevard driving slowly, which she attributed to caution for deer crossing or perhaps the driver was looking at the cars for sale in her neighbor’s driveway.
“I was suspicious when it was about eight times back and forth really slow. It did make me nervous,” she said.