Resident describes robbery that led to fatal shooting
James Burnett was taking a shower Wednesday afternoon when he heard his friend screaming from the living room.
Two men, armed with a handgun and a crowbar, had forced their way inside Burnett's north Grand Prairie apartment, he said. The intruders held Burnett and his female friend inside the bathroom at gunpoint while they ransacked the apartment for valuables, he said.
The robbers did not know that Burnett also had a gun.
"I could not believe what was going on," said Burnett, 38, who lives at the Fairways apartment complex on north Texas 360. "I tried to crack the door open. That's when they said, 'Touch the door again, and I'll shoot you.' "
They dragged him in the bedroom and made him unlock the safe they had found in the closet, he said. While one robber scooped dozens of valuable coins and jewelry from the safe, Burnett said he reached for his handgun sitting in a recliner by his bed.
"They hollered, 'What are you doing, what are you doing?' " Burnett said.
At that moment, Burnett said, the men began hitting him in the head and back.
"It felt like my eyeholes and brain were rattling."
Burnett grabbed the gun and began firing. He chased the men out the front door and down three flights of stairs, firing at them at least four times, according to police reports.
One suspect, 28-year-old Gerald Marshall of Arlington, was fatally shot in the side as he ran, police Sgt. Alan Patton said.
The second suspect got away, along with Burnett's collection of 1920s and 1930s peace silver dollars valued at $5,000, a $2,000 diamond ring and $400 in cash, he said. Burnett was unable to provide officers a detailed description of the suspect, and police are hoping to locate him via the rare coins.
Patton said investigators believe that Burnett was justified in using deadly force, but the case will be referred to a Tarrant County grand jury as standard procedure.