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Family calls shooting of car thief ‘senseless’

Ann Kaluza and her grandson, Connor Kaluza, mourn the loss of their grandson and brother, Brendon T. Kaluza-Graham, on Tuesday. (Dan Pelle)
Ann Kaluza and her grandson, Connor Kaluza, mourn the loss of their grandson and brother, Brendon T. Kaluza-Graham, on Tuesday. (Dan Pelle)

A homeowner shot a car thief in the head, killing him as he drove away in a stolen Chevrolet Suburban on Monday morning.

The violence has ignited debate about property rights, self-defense and the use of deadly force to stop a property crime.

The dead man has been identified as Brendon T. Kaluza-Graham, a Spokane man born to teen parents and raised by his grandparents.

Kaluza-Graham is suspected of stealing the Suburban as it sat idling in the driveway of a home in the 1400 block of North Lee Street. The back window of the SUV was shattered, which police believe is from a single shot fired by the homeowner, Lt. Mark Griffiths said. He would not comment on how far away the vehicle was when the shot was fired, what sort of gun the homeowner fired or whether Kaluza-Graham was armed as the homeowner claimed when he called 911 to report the incident just before 8 a.m. Monday.

The homeowner’s identity has not been disclosed by police, and he has not been arrested or charged for shooting Kaluza-Graham.

The police findings from the investigation could be forwarded to prosecutors as early as today.

Kaluza-Graham’s relatives called the shooting “senseless.”

“He (Brendon) was much loved,” said Ann Kaluza, his paternal grandmother. “I know taking the car was wrong, but it’s not a capital crime he needed to be executed for.”

Kaluza-Graham had a lengthy criminal record, including multiple convictions of car theft or possessing tools to steal cars. A judge sentenced him to four months in jail last November.

In another case, prosecutors charged Kaluza-Graham in February 2012 after he reached for a knife during a fight with a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy. Deputies found prescription pills and marijuana on him at that time, according to court records.

Police searched the Suburban on Tuesday but have not released any findings, police spokeswoman Monique Cotton said.

This story has been altered from its published form to note that Kaluza-Graham reached for a knife, he did not brandish one.
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