Little Falls Man Byron Smith Accused of Killing Two Teen Burglars, Not Reporting Shooting
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Police have taken into custody a 64-year-old Minnesota man accused of killing two teens he said broke into his home and hiding their bodies in his basement.
Byron Smith was arrested after he told police officers of the shooting a day later, after they visited his home to investigate reports of suspicious activities.
‘Smith immediately told the deputies that he had shot and killed two people breaking into his home the day prior,’ the sheriff's office said in a news release.
Police said that they recovered the body of an 18-year-old female and a 17-year-old male from Smith’s home, and ABC News affiliate KSTP-TV in Minnesota is reporting that the two are cousins Haley Kifer and Nicholas Brady.
Minnesota law stipulates that individuals are permitted to use deadly force when defending their homes, but authorities said that there was evidence to suggest that Smith may have gone beyond self defense.
‘A person has every right to defend themselves and their homes, even employing deadly force if necessary,’ Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said in a news release. ‘Circumstances of this case however, led deputies to believe that Smith went beyond that point.’
Smith, a former government employee who also worked in security, was arrested Friday and is being held on second degree murder charges. He will appear in court Monday where more details will likely emerge.
According to his friends, Smith said that he had didn’t go to police immediately after the shooting because he panicked.
‘He was very traumatized by what had occurred and didn’t know who to call or what to do and that is very sad that the whole even happened,’ Kathy Lange said of her friend to KSTP-TV.
Victims: Cousins Kifer and Brady were said to have been robbing Smith's home when they were shot and killed.
Different Pictures: Friends and family said that Brady (left) and Kifer (right) were model students, while others said that they weren't surprised they would be involved in a robbery. Smith believes the two have robbed his home more than once.
John Lange said that Smith might have ‘snapped’ after having been burglarized at least twice before by other teens in the area, according to the Star Tribune. Smith said that he suspected that the two had been responsible for at least some of those past robberies.
Students who went to the same school as Brady, one of the victims, said that they weren’t surprised that he would be involved in a robbery.
‘He gets in trouble at school a lot and it’s something that could happen with his friend group,’ Forest Wonderlich told KSTP-TV.
Meanwhile, those who knew the two painted a starkly different picture.
Kifer was a senior at Little Falls High School who was heavily involved in diving and gymnastics, while principal Scott Doss of Pillager High School, where Brady had attended, said he had a ‘million-dollar smile.’
A Facebook tribute page has already been made for the two where commenters have posted notes like ‘Hope The Authorities Figure out How Everything Really Happened and Soon' and 'Absolutely deplorable! The truth will come out eventually.'