Spokane homeowner who shot carjacker charged with manslaughteron May 29, 2013 @ 12:12 pm (Updated: 1:22 pm - 5/29/13 )
According to reports, 56-year-old Gail Herbert Gerlach had left his Chevy Suburban running in his driveway to warm it up on a cold day in March when Brendon Kaluza-Graham tried to drive away with it. Gail fired his gun, hitting Brendon in the head and killing him.
Gail said he saw Brendon raise his arm in his direction; he thought Brendon had a gun. But police later searched the car and didn't find a weapon.
After the shooting, KREM TV reported that Kaluza-Graham had been caught stealing cars four times in the past, and had been convicted of assaulting a police officer. Police report that he'd had multiple run-ins with law enforcement where he had been armed with knives.
"For a guy who's lived a law-abiding life," said Dori, "and a criminal jumps into his vehicle, jumps into his life, and he instinctively used the gun he was legally carrying to stop his Chevy Suburban - which is a key part of his livelihood - now this 56-year-old guy may spend a good portion of the rest of his life in prison. Is that justice?"
The thief's grandparents, who raised him, called him a "sweet kid" who made some mistakes in life. His grandmother said he was trying to turn his life around and she was trying to find him a job.
"He (Brendon) was much loved," said grandmother Ann Kaluza. "I know taking the car was wrong, but it's not a capital crime he needed to be executed for."
After the initial investigation, Spokane's Major Crimes Detectives did not recommend that Gail be charged with a crime in this case.
Gail's attorney released the following statement:
"Mr. Gerlach is disappointed in this charging decision. He is looking forward to resolving this matter in court."
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