LAPORTE | Investigators say an intruder refused to drop a hatchet and was trying to wrestle a gun away from the occupant of a home when he was fatally shot Monday morning.
LaPorte County Prosecutor Bob Szilagyi said -- based on those and other findings of the preliminary investigation -- no charges will be filed against the man whose home was broken into.
"It appears to be self defense," Szilagyi said.
Jason Rabe, 23, of Three Oaks, Mich., was pronounced dead from a single gunshot wound to the left side of his upper chest inside a home in the 6700 block of East County Road 1000 North, west of Hudson Lake.
"It was a nonsurvivable type wound," LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan said. "If he had been in a hospital operating room they couldn't have saved him."
LaPorte County Sheriff Mike Mollenhauer said the man renting the home told investigators he was awakened about 9 a.m. Monday by the sound of breaking glass from an outside window. He grabbed his pistol and encountered the intruder in a utility room.
Szilagyi said Rabe was asked to drop the hatchet, but refused then was shot during a physical struggle for the gun.
Rabe was found in the living room, Sullivan said.
Szilagyi said both the intruder and burglary victim had scratch marks on their faces that substantiated there was some type of physical altercation.
Mollenhauer said the investigation shows Rabe threatened the resident with the hatchet, but doesn't believe he actually took a swipe at him with the blade.
Rabe drove to the home on a mo-ped and apparently thought nobody was inside.
Sullivan said a vehicle belonging to the resident was parked in the attached garage.
The shooting happened just a short distance from the Maple Grove United Methodist Church.
Pastor Bob Raschka said he was shocked but not totally surprised, given the rural location of the area with many secluded upscale homes seeing their share of burglaries over the years.
"They are so far away from police protection they take matters into their own hands," Raschka said.
In January 2012, a man near Hesston, a few miles to the west, shot one of three teenagers who broke into his residence. The injury was not serious.