Resident shoots man suspected of invading home

A Durango man was in good condition Monday after being shot in the upper left shoulder by a man whose house he was trying to break into, police said.

Parker Earnest, 21, is suspected of felony trespass and criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, said Lt. Ray Shupe, with the Durango Police Department.

He was recovering Monday night at Mercy Regional Medical Center. Once his condition improves, he will be arrested and booked into the La Plata County jail, he said.

The incident occurred about 1:15 a.m. Sunday in the 200 block of East Sixth Avenue, in South Durango.

The resident, Erik Nilsen, 31, was in a bedroom watching television when he heard a commotion in his backyard, Shupe said. He then heard beer bottles impacting the side of his house, Shupe said.

Nilsen grabbed his handgun and went to investigate. A beer bottle went flying through a glass window next to the back door, Shupe said.

Nilsen then saw an arm reach through the broken window and try to unlock the door, Shupe said. Nilsen confronted the man, but received no response. He warned the potential intruder that he had a gun, Shupe said.

“(Nilsen) just shouted out, ‘Who is it? What do you want?’ The guy wouldn’t answer,” Shupe said.

Earnest again reached inside the house and tried to unlock the door.

That is when Nilsen fired the gun, striking Earnest in the upper left shoulder, Shupe said.

The gun, called The Judge, was loaded with a .410 shotgun shell. The bullet sprayed and also hit Earnest on the left cheek, Shupe said.

Earnest retreated to the back alley, and Nilsen called 911, Shupe said.

Police found Earnest sitting in the back alley when they arrived, he said.

Friends of Earnest said he had been drinking earlier in the evening at downtown bars. They described him as heavily intoxicated, Shupe said.

Earnest didn’t live in the immediate area, but he may have had a friend who lived nearby, Shupe said.

“It’s unknown why he was trying to get into that particular house,” he said.

Police took Nilsen’s gun as a matter of protocol, but he is not suspected of any wrongdoing, Shupe said.

“He was in fear of his life and his safety at that point,” Shupe said.

Efforts to reach Nilsen for comment on Monday were unsuccessful.

shane@durangoherald.com

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