WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WTVD) --An 89-year-old man says he shot and killed his tenant over what he says started over a fight about a broken air conditioner.
Around 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Wake County Sheriff's deputies responded to a shooting in the 100 block of Jordan Lane in Wake Forest. They found 47-year-old Jeff Mitchell dead and the man behind the trigger was 89-year-old Calvin Ray, Sr.
One day later, Ray sat on his porch, near his front door still covered in black fingerprint dust, pieces of broken door frame and a shiny new door jam, all evidence of the attack he says led up to the shooting.
"It was something I had to do to protect my own life," said Ray.
He said Mitchell, who had been his tenant for a year, had complained Friday about his air conditioner breaking down. Ray says he sent over a repairman on Saturday but had heard Mitchell and the repairman argued.
"I heard a knock at the door, figured he might come up here," said Ray.
He says Mitchell was angry and pounding on his door, so he went to the back room and got a gun.
"I'm almost 90 years old, and I don't have much strength. I can't do much to defend myself," said Ray, "He kicked the damn thing in and when he did he started toward me, that's when I shot him. He backed up and fell on the floor."
Ray says even though Mitchell had threatened to kill him twice before he describes him as a good tenant and a hard working father.
"He worked mostly seven days a week," said Ray.
Neighbors who knew Mitchell said the same about the father of a 12-year-old boy. While Ray says he's sorry Mitchell is dead he still says he feels he did what he had to do to save his own life.
"I'm sorry it happened, but it happened," he said.
While Ray claims self-defense, the Wake County Sheriff's Department has yet to confirm that.
Under North Carolina's "Castle Doctrine," if the shooting happened how Ray says it happened, then he would have had the right to use deadly force. For now though the sheriff's department will only say they are investigating.
Read about the "Castle Doctrine" here.