Police fatally shot an armed Pittsburgh man inside his home Sunday as officers responded to a call about a burglary in progress, authorities said.
Christopher Thompkins’ ex-wife, Brenda Richmond, said the nightmare began around 4 a.m. when the couple woke to a stranger standing in their bedroom.
“I opened my eyes and a man was standing there above us,” Richmond, 51, who had reconciled with her ex-husband years ago, told the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.
Richmond said Thompkins, 57, asked for her handgun, which was licensed to her. The burglar fled their room, but she said Thompkins became concerned for his elderly mother who was sleeping downstairs.
“He was just saying, ‘My mom, my mom,’” she told The Tribune Review. “That’s all he was worrying about.”
Thompkins hurried down their home’s staircase where police, in a statement released Monday, said he opened fire at two officers who were attempting to enter the home after receiving a call about a possible burglary in progress. The officers returned fire, shooting Thompkins.
Richmond said that she wasn’t aware that a security alarm had been tripped, alerting local police. She later called 911 herself after climbing out onto her house’s roof, she told the Post-Gazette.
Suspect Juan Brian Jetter-Clark, 23, was taken into custody at the scene for criminal trespass, police said.
“They shot the wrong guy,” Richmond told the Tribune. “He didn’t want to hurt no cops. He was trying to save his mother.”
Speaking to the Post-Gazette, she said she realizes that officers were just trying to do their job.
“They saw somebody shooting, they shoot,” she said. Still, she said she wishes that “the protocol can be made better.”
According to the Post-Gazette, Thompkins spent 10 years in prison for the shooting death of another man during a domestic dispute involving Richmond. The couple was married at the time of the 1994 shooting but had been separated for a month.
Richmond said Thompkins “was not the same man today that he was back then.”
In a statement, police said that the two officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.
“There is an ongoing investigation with oversight of the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office. Additional information will be released by the Bureau at the appropriate time,” the statement said.