MUNHALL, Pa. (AP) — A Pittsburgh-area homeowner was justified in fatally shooting a man who was serving as a lookout for a burglary suspect in the homeowner’s detached garage, the district attorney said.
The homeowner, John Rozgonyi, “was looking for trouble. This is classic self-defense, classic Castle Doctrine,” Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. told reporters today at a press briefing at the shooting site in Munhall, a few miles east of the city.
The alleged burglar, 24-year-old Shawn Conroy faces a preliminary hearing next month, and reportedly went to the garage with Andrew Stevens, 23, after a night of drinking, investigators said. Rozgonyi kept his classic 1977 Ford Mustang in the garage.
A neighbor saw the suspects and called Rozgonyi about the break-in about 3:30 a.m. Sept. 17. Rozgonyi called 911 before going into the alley to confront Stevens while carrying a .380-caliber pistol, Zappala said.
Stevens, who had a .45-caliber pistol, reportedly told Rozgonyi, “Don’t do anything stupid” before a witness said Stevens fired a shot at the homeowner.
Rozgonyi returned fire, with the men trading six shots each, Zappala said. Two bullets hit Stevens, and Rozgonyi wasn’t wounded.
“In this county, historically, we’ve taken the position that you have the right to defend your property,” Zappala said. “If somebody engages you with deadly force, you can return deadly force.”
“It has changed this gentleman’s life,” Zappala said of Rozgonyi, who has not commented on the shooting and didn’t answer his door today. “The deceased forced his hand.”