A Vietnam War veteran defending his home from an intruder was shot and killed by police who mistook the man for the assailant, Colorado authorities said Tuesday.
Police responded early Monday to a call made by a woman who said a man had broken into her home, according to police in Aurora, a suburb of Denver.
When an officer arrived, he heard a gunshot fired inside the residence. Once he entered the home, the officer found "a very chaotic and violent scene," according to the statement.
While inside, the officer saw the armed resident, whom the officer then fatally shot. The officer then cleared the house to secure the scene.
The man shot by the officer, identified by a family member to NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver as Richard Black Jr., 73, was transported to a hospital, where he died.
"This is a very heartbreaking and tragic situation for everyone involved," Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz said in a statement.
Police have not identified the resident or the intruder.
Qusair Mohamedbhai, a lawyer representing Black's family, told KUSA that the intruder grabbed Black's 11-year-old grandson, who was sleeping on a couch, and dragged him to a bathroom, where he attacked the boy. Police confirmed that an unidentified juvenile was transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening but serious injuries.
Black and the boy's father tried to pull the attacker off the child, but after a struggle, Black grabbed his gun and shot and killed the man, Mohamedbhai said.
Moments later, Mohamedbhai said, the Aurora officer shot and killed Black, who was licensed as a certified public accountant in Colorado from 1999 to 2008.
Mohamedbhai told the station that Black's wife, Jeanette Black, gave a detailed description of her husband and what he was wearing when she called 911. He said there is evidence to suggest that while Black was inside the home, the officer who shot him was outside.
The police officer has been placed on administrative reassignment with pay while the shooting is investigated, according to the statement.