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Alleged home invader fatally shot by homeowner lived nearby, may have been intoxicated

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Posted at 2:49 PM, May 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-03 23:21:51-04

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah – A homeowner in Pleasant Grove shot and killed a man who allegedly tried to force his way into a residence early Sunday morning, and police said one of the working theories in the case is that the man may have been intoxicated and confused about which townhome in a larger complex he was trying to enter.

According to a press release from the Pleasant Grove Police Department, police responded to the area of 1700 West and 60 South around 5:42 a.m. Sunday after receiving report that a man had shot another man who had tried to force his way into a residence through a door on a second-story balcony.

Police stated in the release their investigation so far has determined that 24-year-old Christian Chichia allegedly began pounding on the door of the residence, which awakened and alarmed the homeowners. Lt. Britt Smith, Pleasant Grove Police Department, said the husband armed himself with a handgun and went downstairs to the door to see what was happening.

When the man reached the front door, his wife--who was on the third floor--told him the man was now on the residence's second-story balcony. Smith said as the homeowner approached the balcony door the handle was jiggling and Chichia was trying to gain entry, so the homeowner went to open the door "just a crack" to speak with Chichia.

“[The homeowner] unlocked it so that he could open it and engage in conversation with Chichia, and that’s when Chichia forced the door and attempted to open it, and that’s when the homeowner—not knowing why he was there, what his intentions were, fearing for his safety and his wife’s safety—fired a round," Smith said.

Smith said Chichia was taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the chest from a .40-caliber handgun, and "Life-saving measures were taken, but ultimately he did die from his wounds."

Smith said the homeowner and Chichia lived in the same complex of townhomes but they don't believe the two knew each other prior to Sunday's encounter.

Townhomes in Pleasant Grove where a home owner fatally shot an alleged home invader. Photo has been blurred to omit addresses.

Townhomes in Pleasant Grove where a home owner fatally shot an alleged home invader. Photo has been blurred to omit addresses.

“You have a bunch of duplexes and townhomes, they are three-story townhomes," Smith said. "He lives like a building or two away."

Smith said one of their working theories was that Chichia might have been intoxicated and thought he was trying to get into the residence he shared with several roommates.

“So according to witness reports, we suspect that alcohol was definitely a factor this morning," Smith said. "But, of course, we’re going to wait until toxicology results come back before we say for sure, but according to witness reports alcohol was definitely a factor.”

Chichia didn't make any attempt to communicate verbally while trying to enter the residence, Smith said. He said Chichia has an adult criminal history, and that all of the offenses, which were mostly alcohol-related, were non-violent.

While Smith said the mistaken address theory is one they are investigating, he said they may never actually know what happened.

“We don’t know what his intent was, and unfortunately we can’t ask him, so I’m afraid that’s going to be one of those big unknowns in this case, which really makes it kind of tragic because we don’t know what his intent was," Smith said.

The homeowner has not been charged at this point in the investigation.

“So obviously in the state of Utah you have the right to defend your home… But this case will be submitted to the Utah County Attorney’s Office," Smith said. "They’ll review it, staff it, and screen it for any charges, but at this point the Pleasant Grove Police Department isn’t making any arrests, we're not filing any charges."

This marks the second time in two days a civilian has fatally shot someone during the commission of an alleged crime in Utah County. A man shopping at a grocery store in Orem Saturday responded to a woman's cries for help during a carjacking and fatally shot the suspect after the man allegedly lunged at him.