Sheriff Steve Mansfield describes what occurred inside the home off Highway 603 after the armed resident confronted a stranger.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The Lewis County prosecutor sent a message yesterday, regarding the weekend incident in which a rural Chehalis resident shot and injured a nighttime intruder inside his house.
It appears he acted appropriately in protecting himself and his wife, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said, speaking for his boss, Jonathan Meyer who was out of town.
Meagher said their office will still review the situation, as they will any time someone shoots someone else.
Deputies were called about 4:45 a.m. on Sunday to the 400 block of Highway 603 where the 24-year-old resident said he was asleep with his wife and heard someone talking outside, the person came in the home and then charged him as he stood outside his bedroom door, according to the sheriff’s office.
The identity of the 24-year-old man who fired one shot with a 40 caliber handgun has not been released.
“This is about as straightforward of a case of use of deadly force as we’ve had in a longtime,” Sheriff Steve Mansfield told a press conference yesterday at the Lewis County Law and Justice Center in Chehalis.
“As a matter of fact, about the only thing I could say the victim could have done better is he could have fired sooner, fired more often and he could have used a better brand of ammunition,” Mansfield told the gathering.
The gun shot victim was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with a bullet wound to his lower abdomen, according to the sheriff’s office. Brian L. Creed, 51, was listed in critical condition on Sunday at mid-day, but by yesterday the hospital claimed he was not listed on its patient directory.
Creed is in the sheriff’s office custody for a probable burglary charge, according to Mansfield. He is at the hospital, but under the full time watch of a deputy, he said.
What Creed was doing in the couple’s manufactured home isn’t clear.
Mansfield said Creed lives on nearby Nix Road and appeared to be highly under the influence of drugs, probably methamphetamine.
The couple’s door had been left unlocked, according to the sheriff.
When the young man told him to stop, to get on the ground, Creed came at him with his arms up in the air, Mansfield said. That’s when the young man fired, according to Mansfield.
“The victim found himself in a fight for his life,” Mansfield said, describing the two men as rolling around on the floor until the resident broke free and held Creed at gun point until deputies arrived.
Mansfield said Creed made comments that “led one to believe he probably didn’t know why he was there in the purest sense of the matter.”
The young man was uninjured, but got a bump on his head, according to the sheriff’s office.
Mansfield emphasized to the gathered news reporters yesterday that the public needs to realize his deputies are not likely to be present at the moment one needs them most.
Whether it means getting a gun or not for protection, folks need to take personal responsibility for their own safety, Mansfield said.
“People need to think through these sorts of things,” he said.
The exterior of the home where this occurred was well lit, according to the sheriff.
Under furthering questioning, Mansfield said people need to always consider if a reasonable person in the same situation would use deadly force.
“It has to be for your life, or another life threatened,” Mansfield said. “It can’t be for your property.”
The young couple, and their neighborhood, happened to be very well prepared, the sheriff said.
They have a block watch group that became very active last year when they realized a three-bedroom house on Nix Road was home to several men transitioning out of prison.
The county pressured it to close it doors, which it did soon after the county filed a civil suit last July regarding alleged zoning violations.
Sheriff Mansfield and block watch captain Bradd Reynolds said yesterday that Creed had recently moved back into the house. He isn’t and hasn’t been a tenant there however, according to the property owner Janice Thompson and the former manager of transition homes, Judy Chafin-Williams.
Thompson said she understands Creed is acquainted with her renters and does visit there. She said she didn’t know much more about him, except she thinks a single man.
“This is the nightmare we all talked about,” Reynolds said of Sunday’s encounter the young couple had with Creed.
The former police officer says he tells neighbors to get guns, but learn how and when to use them.
Mansfield said Creed is a convicted felon and has some misdemeanors, mostly from Cowlitz County.
“Some, I believe some drugs, thefts,” Mansfield said. “Nothing violent like we saw here.”
Hear an excerpt from the 911 call, here
For background, read “Twenty-four-year-old Chehalis man shoots, wrestles with intruder” from Sunday February 10, 2013, here
New no trespassing signs have gone up outside the rural Chehalis home