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US homeowner shoots German exchange student dead

MISSOULA, United States - A US homeowner who shot and killed a 17-year-old German high school exchange student he suspected of breaking into his garage was charged with homicide on Monday.

The 29-year-old shooter, Markus Kaarma was taken into custody Sunday after Montana police found the victim with a gunshot wound to his head.

"Initial reports indicate that the male resident encountered an intruder in his garage after an alarm went off, and subsequently shot him with a shotgun," police sergeant Travis Welsh said.

Diren Dede, of Hamburg, Germany, was studying at Big Sky High School in Missoula, where he played for a soccer team.

Kaarma appeared in court and was charged with deliberate homicide.

If convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years and up to 100 years in state prison. Acting Justice of the Peace Suzanne Geer set bail at $30,000.

Defense lawyer Paul Ryan said Kaarma and his common law wife, Janelle Pflager, had been robbed twice in the previous three weeks and had installed screen surveillance and motion detectors. They have a 10-month-old son.

The two were on their couch, watching television, when an alarm sounded. "They had no choice in their mind other than to confront the intruder," Ryan said.

Ryan said Kaarma felt terrible about killing Dede. "It wasn’t his intent to even kill," he said. "It’s really tragic, there’s no question."

Dede’s host family lived in the same neighborhood as Kaarma, according to Deputy County Attorney Andrew Paul.

Paul said Kaarma fired four distinct shots, covering the entire back wall of the garage with his shotgun.

"He was just shooting in the dark," Paul told AFP.

Paul wouldn’t confirm that a second person had been with Dede on the night of the shooting, but noted that a friend had suggested the exchange student had entered the garage looking for something to drink.

Prosecutors accused the defendant of having a mindset of revenge. Paul cited a witness who alleges that Kaarma issued threats at a hairstyling salon on April 23. The hairstylist, Felene Sherbondy, quoted Kaarma as saying: "I’m just waiting to shoot some fucking kid," according to the prosecution’s affidavit.

Missoula County Schools Superintendent Alex Apostle called the shooting a tragedy. "We are all pulling together to support the students, staff and families of Big Sky High School," he said.

AFP


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