(HAMILTON, Ohio) — An 84-year-old Ohio man killed a 75-year-old intruder who suffered from Alzheimer’s and apparently thought he was in the house of a relative who lived next door.
Charles Foster, 84, was at his Hamilton home about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday when he heard a loud noise outside. A man later identified as Ed Stevens, 75, had slammed a car into his garage door and was banging on his front door.
“I thought he was hurt or injured or something,” Foster told ABC News Cincinnati affiliate WCPO. “I didn’t know who it was so I opened the front door and he came in. All he said was, ‘You told me to break the door down.’ I didn’t tell him nothing.”
Foster said Stevens became violent and headed for the basement.
“He was totally confused,” Foster said. “He was completely out of it.”
Stevens allegedly hurt Foster and came at him with a board.
“[A] person broke into my house, went down, kicked my cat, went down in the basement and destroyed everything,” Foster told WCPO. “I couldn’t get him to stop. I hit him once and that was the end of it. I got my gun and shot him.” Foster said he would not have shot had he not been attacked.
He called 911 and told the operator in a panicked voice, “I have a dead man in my basement.”
In the 911 call, Foster pleads with the dispatcher to send the police to help him.
“I don’t even know him,” Foster tells the operator. “He broke the front door down. I didn’t shoot him until I tried to calm him down and get him the hell out of here.”
Stevens was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago, according to his stepdaughter Rhonda Varney.
He had left that morning to go to the grocery store and when he didn’t return, the family grew worried and went out to look for him. Varney said her aunt and uncle live in the house next door to Foster and that her stepfather was likely confused and went to the wrong house. She said he was used to entering the family’s house and heading straight for the basement where he would relax with the family.
“He was a very gentle, kind man,” she said. “When he did forget things, he got very nervous and would get scared. I’m 100 percent sure that he was scared.”
Varney said that the family does not plan on pressing charges against Foster at this time, but she said she would like to talk to him to find out exactly what happened.
Hamilton Police Sgt. Steve Henderson called the situation a “tragic accident.”
“[Foster] was trying to get him to leave and didn’t know he had dementia. All he knows is that he’s in his house,” Henderson told ABC News.
Ohio does not require people over the age of 21 to be licensed for handguns unless they are concealed weapons.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Azadeh Ansari and Joe Sutton, CNN
Ray Sanchez, CNN
Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN