Police officials say Stephan Sergio Aceves was not trying to burglarize a Pasco home when he was shot to death inside the residence.
"At this point there is no indication that (Aceves) was a burglar," Capt. Jim Raymond said at a Tuesday news conference. "We can rule him out as someone who was trying to break-in to steal anything."
But police and Franklin County prosecutors say they need more time to investigate and review evidence before deciding if the homeowner was justified in shooting Aceves, 28.
Rudy Ontiveros Jr., an Energy Northwest security guard, shot Aceves several times in the head and torso with a handgun early Jan. 14, after the stranger came pounding on the door in the middle of the night. Ontiveros's girlfriend and four children were inside.
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Officials said during the news conference that Aceves was shot after he got "well inside" the house. They would not say how Aceves got inside. There were reportedly no signs of a break-in at the house on Savary Drive.
Aceves' body was found near the front door, partly inside, said officials.
That evening he'd been at a family gathering at his stepbrother's house around the corner. His family has speculated he went outside to smoke a cigarette and returned to the wrong house.
On Tuesday, his death was ruled a homicide by the Franklin County Coroner's Office following an autopsy by Dr. Daniel Selove, a forensic pathologist from Everett, said Deputy Coroner Roy McLean.
Posecutor Shawn Sant said he will review police reports, laboratory tests and the medical examiner's reports before deciding whether to file charges. He did not give a timeline for when a decision will be made.
"Washington has specific grounds for when a person can use force," Sant said. "We are going to be looking at all the facts of this particular case without speculating as to what may have or may have not occurred within the home."
Sant went on to say, "In Washington you don't have a duty to retreat. You can take appropriate steps to defend yourself and others."
Aceves' family attended the news conference, asking questions about Ontiveros and whether a 911 call made by a woman inside the house would be released to the public.
Donna Bush, Aceves' mother, said after the hearing they feel disappointed that no new information was released.
"The questions from the family seemed like they were ignored, avoided and outright not answered," Bush said. "It was unsatisfying. I am glad to hear (the investigation) is continuing and they are gathering more information, but at the same time it is frustrating that we don't know more about what happened that night."
Some of the family also attended Tuesday night's Pasco City Council meeting to urge the city to do a thorough investigation. Mayor Matt Watkins said they would and expressed his condolences to the family.
Police were called to Ontiveros' house at 2:30 a.m. by a woman, who said an intruder was inside the residence, Raymond said. When officers arrived, they found Aceves already dead.
Ontiveros told police he was woken up by pounding at his front door. Police identified Ontiveros as the homeowner during Tuesday's news conference. The Herald previously identified him through independent reporting.
Ontiveros declined Tuesday to talk about what happened when reached by phone.
Neighbors reported hearing pounding coming from Ontiveros' home, followed by four gunshots.
Barbara Brower-Jones, who lives next door to Ontiveros, said he told her that he felt "extremely threatened" by the 6-foot-5 Aceves and that Aceves lunged at him.
Police say the men did not know each other.
Aceves recently moved to the Tri-Cities from Missoula, Mont., and worked in the meat department at Walmart. He had been out drinking with family members at Applebee's in Pasco, said his family.
Family members believe Aceves got lost when he went outside to smoke and was banging on Ontiveros' door because he thought it was his stepbrothers' house.
Ontiveros has worked security at the nuclear plant for five years.
Police did not release what caliber handgun was used in the shooting or if Ontiveros owned the gun.
-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; email@example.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson