Homeowner shoots man breaking into home

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MINDEN -- Emergency dispatchers could hear gunshots going off as they spoke to the victims of an apparent home invasion that left one man dead.

Douglas County Sheriff's Sgt. Tom Mazzetta said 911 dispatchers were still on the phone when they heard the shots believed to have killed Walter Francis Hetrick, 40, at 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

Hetrick woke the household of a mother, father and two small children, on Log Cabin Road, just north of the Douglas County Fairgrounds, demanding to speak to someone.

"He was very loud and abusive in his language," Sheriff Ron Pierini said of Hetrick's demeanor, based on the homeowner's statement. "(Hetrick) was out of control."

The homeowner told Hetrick he'd never heard of the person he was looking for and closed the door. Hetrick allegedly threw a rock through a window in an effort to enter.

Sheriff's Lt. Mike Biaggini said that as Hetrick came through a side door into the home, the homeowner shot him with a .357-caliber revolver.

"The homeowner was trying to stop him," Biaggini said. "He was in fear of his life. His whole family was there.

Investigators from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office are withholding the homeowner's name until their investigation is complete.

The homeowner fired five shots at Hetrick and struck him three times, in the left foot, in the shoulder and the fatal shot to the left thigh, Mazzetta said.

Hetrick was pronounced dead at 12:12 a.m. Sunday at Carson Valley Medical Center, less than an hour after the homeowner told dispatchers that his home was being broken into and that he was armed.

Biaggini said Hetrick knew people were in the home.

"The doors were locked," he said. "He made forced entry into the home. He had to destroy property to make entry. We're working to determine why he was there and why this happened."

Hetrick's 1985 Ranger pickup truck was discovered 100 yards from the home. Investigators are hoping that someone who saw the Ranger will come forward in an effort to piece together what the Antioch, Calif., man was doing in the neighborhood.

Investigators are looking into Hetrick's criminal history. Biaggini confirmed the man has had run-ins with the law.

An autopsy will be conducted, and the case will be forwarded to the Douglas County District Attorney's Office. However, Biaggini said individuals defending their homes are typically not prosecuted.

Pierini said the homeowner is remorseful about what happened.

"This was a terrible, terrible event to go through," he said.

You can help

If you have any information about Walter Hetrick's activities before Saturday's shooting, call Douglas County investigators at 782-9905.


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