Robbery victim: If teens hadn't broken in, they'd be alive

Little Falls robbery victim: If teens hadn't broken in, they'd be alive

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The fatal double-shooting in Little Falls on Thanksgiving Day left two teenaged cousins dead and a homeowner in jail, but officials have now released details about a second home burglary the teens were linked to and the victim is speaking out.

The deaths of 17-year-old Nicholas Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kifer have outraged friends, families and others, but one man whose stolen items were found in Brady's red Mitsubishi has a message for them.

"Grieve for your friends because you like them and you love them and you value them, but then also be honest about their problems," Richard Johnson told FOX 9 News. "They had problems, and that's what they needed help with."

It's unknown what Brady and Kifer were looking for when they broke into Byron Smith's home on Thanksgiving, but investigators have since connected the cousins to at least one other burglary of prescription medication.

"They found a crow bar on my deck," Johnson recalled. "That's what they used to smash the window."

Johnson lives just a few houses away from Kifer's parents, and he was on a two-week European vacation when a friend discovered the door was broken.

"Practically every drawer in the place was open to one degree or another," Johnson said.

It wasn't until the next morning that Johnson discovered all of his prescription medications had been taken, along with a jar of pennies and some foreign coins.

"They just didn't take anything other than the prescription drugs," he said.

None of those drugs would have been of any use to get high. They included antibiotics and drugs for diabetes and high blood pressure.

The drugs were discovered after 64-year-old Byron Smith admitted to gunning down the two teens as they walked into his basement.

The day before the shooting, neighbors called police to report a suspicious vehicle parked in a driveway across the street from Johnson's home. Brady told officers that he and his cousin ran out of gas, and police gave him a lift into town. The next day, Brady and Kifer were killed.

Smith remains in the Morrison County Jail with bail set at $2 million. He admitted to killing the pair, telling police in disturbing detail that he fired "more shots than I needed to."

The story has also sparked a nationwide debate over the use of force and the protection of property, but Johnson told FOX 9 News all parties in this case are victims.

"I feel very sorry for them and I feel very sorry for their family, and certainly, the guy way overreacted when he shot them the way he did -- but also … if they hadn't broken into the house, they'd be alive today," Johnson said.

Under Minnesota law, a homeowner can use deadly force on an intruder if a reasonable person believes the intruder intends to inflict harm. Smith told investigators he was afraid the teens might have a weapon and had been burglarized recently. In October, police were called to Smith's home after someone broke in and stole thousands of dollars in cash, coins and camera equipment.

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