ELYRIA — A homeowner shot and killed a man he and his wife say broke into their Water Street home early Friday.
Police said the home at 112 Water St. was burglarized Thursday night, and the homeowner, Jack Dillon, was sleeping downstairs Friday on the couch with a gun nearby when the alleged burglar entered the home again through a window.
Dillon’s wife, Linda, told a 911 dispatcher that they believed the man, later identified as Jeffrey Carson, 29, of 701 W. Broad St., Elyria, had returned to finish the job after leaving the window unlocked Thursday night.
Lt. Andy Eichenlaub said the window was still unlocked when Carson entered through it Friday morning.
According to a police report, someone stole a 52-inch Sharp flat-screen LCD television from the Dillons’ home Thursday morning. Eichenlaub said police are investigating whether Carson was involved in that burglary.
At 2:44 a.m. Friday, Jack and Linda Dillon told police they were awakened by a noise in the living room. There they found Carson and believed he was stealing the rest of the electronics, they told police.
Jack Dillon told police he called out to Carson, who lunged at him. The couple told police Jack fired at Carson, but Eichenlaub would not say how many times the weapon was fired.
The incident remains under investigation. County Coroner Stephen Evans said an autopsy would be completed, but he declined to say more.
An obviously distressed Linda Dillon called 911 and was on the phone with the dispatcher for five minutes.
“Oh my God, we’ve had a break-in and we need help. Oh my God … he’s lying on my couch. Oh my God!” Linda Dillon told the dispatcher.
During the call, Linda Dillon said she believed Carson was dead, but later during the call she said he started coughing. An ambulance arrived within minutes and transported Carson to EMH Regional Medical Center in Elyria, where he was pronounced dead.
Carson has an extensive criminal history, according to court documents.
In 2005, Carson was charged with domestic violence and disrupting public service when he attacked his mother, Belinda Carson, by pushing her down and kicking her in the face. The attack was witnessed by Belinda Carson’s fiance and others at a small get-together at the apartment, according to county Common Pleas Court records.
Jeffrey Carson ripped out the only working phone in the apartment and threatened to kill anyone who tried to leave. Belinda Carson’s fiance, James Kopetz, climbed through a window and called for help, but Jeffrey Carson was gone when police arrived, according to court records.
Officers said Belinda Carson had a swollen eye, abrasion to her lip and scratch on the right side of her face. The case later was dismissed, however, because Belinda Carson did not appear in court.
Jeffrey Carson also had a history of drug use, according to court documents.
He was convicted of possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia in both 2005 and 2006, as well as receiving stolen property, operating a vehicle under the influence and driving under suspension in 2006.
Carson pleaded guilty to those charges and served time at Lorain-Medina Community Based Correctional Facility.
According to a transcript from a sentencing hearing, Carson told the judge he regretted his actions and hoped time in the correctional facility would help him turn his life around.
“Yeah, I admit I messed up a lot, but CBCF, I think, will give me a chance to, you know — like, I ain’t have many chance in my life, you know what I’m saying,” he told the judge. “Every time I know I messed up, I feel bad when I mess up, and I think CBCF might help me just a little bit, as a stepping stone, to get tools for my life to better it.”
Carson’s problems, however, didn’t end after he served his time in the facility.
He was convicted of theft in 2009 after he stole video games from Target, and domestic violence, resisting arrest and obstructing official business in 2011. He had a current breaking and entering case through Elyria Municipal Court.
In that case, police found Carson and another man, Ross Stahl, in a vacant home in the 100 block of Princeton Avenue at 5:28 a.m. Oct. 5. Police said Carson and Stahl were found hiding in a pile of garbage in the garage.
Carson’s sister, Bobbi Knicely, said Carson would break into vacant homes for a place to stay because he was homeless. But Knicely can’t believe that her brother would knowingly break into a home and steal electronics.
“He will not take a cigarette out of my cigarette pack without asking,” she said.
She said Carson was working at Green Circle Growers as seasonal help. He had been evicted from his home but was staying with someone on Water Street, 14 houses down from the home that was burglarized, Knicely said.
She said she believes the Dillons knew him.
“The whole situation seems fishy,” Knicely said.
Police, however, have said there is no indication the couple knew Carson, and Linda Dillon told the 911 operator that she didn’t recognize him.
Linda Dillon declined to comment Friday afternoon.
Knicely said Carson was a family man. He had two children ages 2 and 10 who are staying with their mother. Carson’s Facebook page says he and his wife were separated.
Knicely said Carson would watch her three children often, and although he had problems in his life, he was trying to fix them.
“He loved kids. … He was very respectful,” she said. “He would get loud, but he never tried to pull out a gun. He’s never tried to pull a knife. He’s never tried to physically, physically hurt anyone.”
Carson’s half-sister, Brittney Sorton, said she understands why Carson was shot, but she wishes the incident could have been prevented.
“(Jack and Linda) sound like great people, and I feel really bad,” she said. “I wish it could have been prevented somehow. Lock your window if you know he’s coming back.”
While Sorton acknowledged that Carson wasn’t perfect, she said the family is grieving. She said the family has accepted the circumstance of Carson’s death.
Knicely is trying to plan the funeral, but she said she hasn’t heard much from the police, and she just wants to bury her brother.
“I haven’t heard how many times my brother was shot. I don’t know if we can have an open casket,” she said. “He’s dead. He’s already deceased. What could be under investigation?”
Contact Chelsea Miller at (440) 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.