A man shot and killed a masked teenager outside his next door neighbour's home after interrupting what appeared to be a burglary, to find out later that it was his son.
Jeffrey Giuliano shot his adopted 15-year-old son, Tyler, in front of the home in New Fairfield, Connecticut, at about 1am yesterday.
The school teacher had gone next door with his gun after receiving a phone call from the distraught owner of the home – believed to be his sister, and the boy's aunt – who said someone was outside trying to break in.
Mr Giuliano confronted a figure wearing a black ski mask and fired his gun when the person came towards him "in a threatening manner" with a shiny weapon in his hand, police said.
State Police officers arrived to find the teenager lying on the driveway of the woman's home, and the father sitting on the grass beside the property. It was only after an officer removed the boy's ski mask that the man realised the victim was his son. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
One neighbour said she counted nine shots. "I thought it was fireworks because nobody would think it was a shooting in this town," she told The News-Times newspaper, based in nearby Dansbury.
State police spokesman Lieutenant J Paul Vance said: "We are examining the evidence and talking to witnesses. There is still a lot of work to do."
Police have yet to put forward a theory for why the teenager was on the neighbour's driveway wearing a mask, and no-one has yet been charged in relation to the incident. While not commenting on the specifics of the investigation, Lieutenant Vance said prosecutions were not normally brought against homeowners defending themselves against burglaries.
"The law in the state of Connecticut is very clear: a person has the right to defend themselves against force," he told The Independent. "Our investigators look at the entire situation, then determine the appropriate action."
He added that Mr Giuliano was not in police custody.
The shooting comes just days after a British judge told two burglars they should accept the risk of being shot if they illegally entered the home of a gun owner. Judge Michael Pert QC made his remarks as he jailed Joshua O'Gorman and Daniel Mansell at Leicester Crown Court for four years after they were shot by the owner of a home they were burgling.
In New Fairfield yesterday, the small community of 15,000 was still coming to terms with the tragedy.
"I think people, quite frankly, are devastated right now," said John Hodge, a local politician. "Everybody is just shaking their heads over it. We're hoping the police can get to the bottom of it," he told The News-Times.
New Fairfield is 50 miles north of New York City. Tyler Giuliano was a student at New Fairfield High School, a short walk from the street where he was killed.