A Warren County grand jury decided Wednesday that a Bowling Green man was justified in shooting a 15-year-old boy who was apparently attempting to break into his home.
Eros Berisaj, 15, was fatally shot in the head at about 5:11 p.m. April 3 at 525 Creekwood Court by the homeowner, Jeff McGuire. The case was presented to the grand jury, which issued a “no true bill,” declining to charge McGuire.
In response, Berisaj’s family said they still had questions about what happened to the teen, while McGuire’s attorney said his client will now be able to move on with his life.
According to the police investigation, McGuire was sleeping in his home when he heard a banging and then glass breaking on his rear door. McGuire told police as he went to the back door he could see an arm coming through the glass, attempting to open the door, and he fired several shots.
Immediately after the shooting, McGuire called police and reported the incident. While being questioned by the 911 dispatcher, it took several minutes before McGuire realized the person he had shot was a juvenile, according to the 911 recording (click on the player at left to listen).
While the dispatcher was attempting to calm McGuire, telling him it was going to be OK, McGuire responded, “It’s not going to be OK. I just shot a kid.”
Later in the call, McGuire mentioned that Berisaj had not moved for several minutes and that he didn’t know that the teen was apparently unarmed when he shot him.
“I guess it’s better him than me,” McGuire said during the 911 call.
During the call, McGuire also stated he needed to move out of Bowling Green.
Three shots were fired and only one struck Berisaj, according to the report. The bullet hit toward the rear of Berisaj’s head and lodged near the bridge of his nose. Berisaj fell face down on the rear porch of the residence.
Police found three shell casings, a rock that had been thrown through the glass door, two shotguns and the handgun used to shoot Berisaj inside the home, according to the report. Three other handguns were found inside a safe in the home. The back door of the residence had braces because of a previous burglary, according to McGuire.
Kentucky law allows a homeowner to use lethal force to stop someone from committing a burglary, robbery or any other felony utilizing force at his or her home. McGuire also had a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Kentucky.
Chris Cohron, commonwealth’s attorney for Warren County, said he agreed with the grand jury’s decision, but had no additional comment.
McGuire will now be able to now move on with his life, said J.B. Hines, a Bowling Green attorney representing McGuire.
“Hopefully this will serve as a message (that) the people of Bowling Green are tired of being victims of crime,” Hines said.
Saban Ferizi, Berisaj’s father, said Wednesday it doesn’t make sense that someone can kill another person and not spend any time in jail.
The family has waited for 3 1/2 months for information about what happened to Berisaj, he said. Ferizi said he still has unanswered questions about the case, and why an autopsy was permitted after the family had requested one not be done.
Police investigators didn’t talk to Berisaj’s family about how he might have gotten to the house, Ferizi said.
Berisaj’s family will be provided a copy of the case file, said Officer Barry Pruitt, spokesman for the Bowling Green Police Department, which officially ended its investigation of the case with Wednesday’s grand jury decision.
According to the investigation report, detectives did inform the family about the autopsy and spoke multiple times with family members about the case. There were some questions the detectives could not answer because it would interfere with the investigation, according to the report.
Berisaj was considered a suspect in several burglaries in the same area where the shooting occurred, according to the report. People interviewed during the investigation also indicated there were at least two other people who could have been with Berisaj when he was shot, according to police records. There had been another burglary at McGuire’s residence several months before the shooting; McGuire had also told neighbors about someone peeking into windows before the burglary.
Other neighbors told police about suspicious activity in their neighborhood in the weeks before the shooting. One neighbor on Creekwood Drive said a teenager had come to her door twice asking if another teen lived there, according to the report. Another neighbor said someone was looking through a back window of a vacant home on Creekwood Drive, according to the report.
The investigation indicates that Berisaj might have been working with someone older who would identify a house to break into, and then Berisaj would actually steal items such as laptop computers and other electronics, according to the investigation.
The witnesses stated that Berisaj would brag about the burglaries in school, according to the report. Most of the witnesses were students at Moss Middle School and were not named in the report because they are juveniles.
The older individual would provide marijuana and money to Berisaj in return for the stolen items, witnesses told police, according to the investigative report.
No one else has been charged in connection with the burglaries, according to the report.