San Antonio, Texas

From MySan of July 7, 2007

Icehouse owner fatally shoots burglar

Jesse Elizondo had only meant to scare the intruder away.

He had spent the night lying in wait at his business, an icehouse just north of downtown, determined not to let another burglar on his property after a string of break-ins this year that cost him thousands of dollars and put his nerves on edge constantly.

He had been asleep well before dawn Saturday when he awoke to the sound of rustling outside the icehouse, followed by a loud bang. Then he saw a hand coming through a window.

Fearing for his life, Elizondo popped off one quick shot from his Beretta semiautomatic in the direction of the intruder’s hand.

Then he heard a man moan.

“I knew I’d hit him,” said Elizondo, hours after the man, identified as 24-year-old Michael Adam Eden, died from a gunshot wound to the chest in the icehouse parking lot.

Elizondo later learned the bang he heard was from a rock Eden had thrown through the front window.

“I was scared,” said Elizondo, who estimates burglars have broken into his business close to 20 times in less than a dozen years. “It could have been me laying there on the floor.”

“It’s still sinking in what happened,” he said Saturday, staring off, his eyes wet and red. “I took a man’s life.”

The 4 a.m. incident at T.J.’s Drive-Thru Ice House, at Culebra Road and Colorado, followed four burglaries earlier this year at the location, a patio with blue picnic tables and signs that advertise beer, soda, ice and cigarettes.

Before Saturday, the most recent break-in was June 17, when someone swiped batteries and cigarettes and money from the jukebox, a police report said.

Police found Eden’s body, his ankle still in a cast from a recent fracture, several feet from the front door of the icehouse.

Elizondo said that next to the door he spotted a wheelchair that one of Eden’s relatives said the victim had been using to help him get around.

Police had not connected Eden to any other break-ins at the property, said San Antonio Police Department spokesman Joe Rios.

No charges had been filed against Elizondo.

Eden’s cousin Victor Sanchez expressed outrage when he learned no arrests had been made in his relative’s killing.

“He was in a wheelchair,” Sanchez said. “How could he rob somebody?

“I know he (Elizondo) was trying to defend his place, but that’s taking someone’s life.”

Texas law allows homeowners and business owners to use force to defend their lives or property. A recent bill signed by Gov. Rick Perry will expand those protections so victims no longer have to retreat before they can fire on intruders or attackers.

The new law, which will go into effect Sept. 1, will also protect property owners from civil lawsuits by the perpetrators or their families.

Elizondo said he plans to continue carrying his weapon. He hopes business will stay healthy and that the icehouse will maintain its reputation as a relaxed and quiet spot for families.

Though he maintained his right to defend himself, he wished he never would have had to make the choice at all.

“I wish I hadn’t been here last night,” he said.


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