kills violent intruder
Originally ran here
"Killing intruder 'not a good feeling'
- man, 68"
Wednesday, June 13, 2001
By Edward L. Ronders
FLINT JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
FLINT, MICHIGAN -- Clinton Burns knows what it
feels like to be shot. He's been shot twice, first during the Korean War, then
during an altercation in Flint.
On Tuesday morning, Burns, 68, discovered what
it feels like to shoot and kill someone.
"I feel fine. I won't say I'm upset. But
it's not a good feeling, either," said Burns, who has used a wheelchair
since he was shot in 1963.
Burns, a decorated veteran, was awakened early
Tuesday by a Flint youth, 17, who had broken into his home on Lillian Drive.
After a brief struggle, Burns shot and killed
the intruder. Police declined to release the teen's name pending notification of
next of kin.
"He already had some jewelry and my car
keys in his hands," Burns said. "He died with my car keys in his
Burns was planning to use his car Tuesday
morning to see his podiatrist. His feet tend to swell, he said, and he wasn't
feeling well Monday night.
"I just laid down on top the bed with my
clothes on," he said.
He put his wheelchair on one side of the bed,
and his television's remote control on the other.
About 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, he woke up with a
"I saw this guy's butt and his shirt. He
was bent over, going through my things," Burns said. "I asked him,
'What ... you doing? Get ... outta here.' "
As he confronted the intruder, Burns grabbed
his remote control, believing he could make the suspect believe it was a gun.
The intruder came around the side of the bed.
"He asked me, 'Whatcha got, whatcha got?'
I thought I could scare him off," said Burns, who weighs about 145 pounds.
As the suspect came around the bed, Burns
reached to the other side and grabbed his .38-caliber revolver.
"I keep it under the pillow seat on my
wheelchair," Burns said.
The suspect came around the other side of the
bed, grabbed Burns' hand and began wrestling for the weapon, Burns said.
"I turned my wrist and pulled the
trigger," he said. "The gun was about this far from him," he
said, holding his hands about 6 inches apart.
The suspect fell and died draped over Burns'
"I couldn't get out of bed, he was on top
of my wheelchair. I had to wait until the cops got here," Burns said.
Lt. Diane Garrison, commander of the state
police post in Flint Township, said she believes people should be able to defend
"A citizen has the right to protect
themselves using up to and including deadly force," Garrison said.
Flint police said the case will be forwarded to
the Genesee County prosecutor's office for review.
Burns has lived on tree-lined Lillian Drive for
more than 25 years. His daughters and other neighbors drop by to check on him.
This is the first time someone has broken into
his home. But Burns is no stranger to gunfire.
After graduating from high school, Burns
enlisted in the Army.
While in Korea, he was shot and wounded,
earning a Purple Heart.
He returned to Flint and in 1963, he was shot
again. Instead of a military honor, this wound earned Burns a permanent
"It was early Christmas Eve morning on the
south side," Burns said. "Some guy got drunk and brought out a .25
caliber. He went to turn away and shot me in the ribs. I was in the hospital
till the next July."
Burns left his General Motors job and went on
"My knee won't lock, so I can't
walk," he said.
Burns has kept mainly to himself in his quiet
One neighbor, who asked not to be identified,
said she also lives alone.
"Mr. Burns called me (Tuesday) morning to
see if I was all right and to let me know what happened," she said.
"He's always been a good neighbor."
Journal staff writer Bryn Mickle contributed
to this report. Edward L. Ronders is the day police reporter. He can be reached
at (810) 766-6314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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