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Intruder killed while fleeing lived in same apartment complex as shooter

The 22 year-old South Kitsap man shot to death early Saturday morning has been identified by the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office as Donald G. Axthelm.

A resident of the Southpark Greens apartments, Axthelm was found dead after a confrontation with a 72-year-old man who was also a resident.

Deputies were dispatched to the Southpark Greens apartment complex on SE Larch Lane on Saturday at approximately 3:30 a.m. in response to a report of gunshots fired by an apartment resident during an alleged burglary.

When deputies arrived on scene, they contacted the occupant, who explained he'd been awakened by a noise inside his apartment.

He said after arming himself with a handgun, he confronted a young, adult male he didn't know in the living room.

The man said a struggle ensued, during which the intruder was pushed out the apartment's front door and ran away.

The apartment resident then said he fired several shots in the direction of where the intruder was running.

Two hours later, deputies discovered the body of Axthelm lying face down against the side of an apartment building.

South Kitsap Fire and Rescue was dispatched to the scene and upon arrival, emergency medical service personnel pronounced the man dead.

"When we get the autopsy report back, maybe that will give us some information of why Axthelm was in the man's apartment," said Sheriff's Office Spokesman Scott Wilson. "We will check the toxicology report for, among other things, alcohol content. Maybe he was intoxicated and just entered the wrong apartment. We will just have to wait for the reports."

After several hours of investigation, detectives had established probable cause to arrest the 72-year-old man.

"It was entirely due to the fact that the intruder was running away at the time," Wilson said. . "Because he was running away, he presented no immediate threat to the shooter.

"If he'd gone back to get his own gun and kicked the door in, that would be different," Wilson said. "But that didn't happen. He was presenting less and less of a threat with each step he took in the opposite direction."

He was booked into Kitsap County jail on first-degree manslaughter and bail is set at $100,000.

An autopsy will be performed on Monday to determine cause of death.

The suspect is scheduled for a court appearance on Monday in Kitsap County District Court.

Anyone with information concerning this investigation are asked to contact Detective Lori Blankenship at (360) 337-5615.

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