Police Call Case "Justifiable Shooting"

TRUMANN, AR (KAIT) - Trumann firefighter Todd Short, 34, was shot and killed early Saturday morning after reportedly trying to enter the wrong home by force. According to Trumann Police Chief Larry Blagg, Short was shot at point blank with a 12-gauge shotgun by Jimmy Hand at 220 Cypress Drive.

"It appears, through statements, that he thought he was at a different house. He actually thought he was at a friend's house named Barry Barber, which lives at 244 Cypress. The houses are cookie cutter style houses. They all kind of look alike," said Blagg.

Blagg said both homes have similar style vehicles in the drive-ways. Couple that with alcohol, and Blagg said that was probably the reason Short had the homes mixed up.

Shelia Hand, wife of Jimmy Hand, said she and her husband woke up at about 12:30 Saturday morning to the sound of someone screaming.

"My husband and I woke up to a man beating on the front door, asking Barry to open the door," said Mrs. Hand.

"We congregated in the hallway and we knew he had the wrong house. So my husband grabbed the gun, and went out through the carport door, and peeked around to the front door to tell the man he had the wrong house. He said, 'man you have the wrong house,' and the guy obviously didn't care. He started running after my husband, chased him right into the house and he got to the doorway. And my husband had to make a quick decision and make it fast," said Mrs. Hand.

"The guy comes out of his carport to see who is beating on his front door and Mr. Short noticed him and chased after him. And this guy ran back into his house and Mr. Short, from statements, says that he charged him into the house. And as he entered into the doorway, he was within probably a foot or two of the house, is when the shooting happened," said Blagg.

Trumann Police called the shooting justifiable, but the case remains under investigation.

According to witness statements and the police report, Mr. Hand felt threatened after Mr. Short started chasing after him. Once Short got close to the door, Mr. Hand pulled the trigger, striking Short in the left chest.

Earlier that evening, Todd and his wife Michelle got into an argument after having a few drinks. Michelle left with her kids and Barry Barber, heading for his house at 244 Cypress Dr.

Police believe that's when Todd became agitated at the thought of his wife being with someone else, triggering his rage.

"All we can figure at this point is that Todd got to thinking about it and went to get his wife, and went to the wrong house. That's why he was yelling Barry; I know you're in there. Let me in, that kind of thing, so I figure that the alcohol was a factor, he being upset was a factor, and those two together, it just made for a situation that turned out like it did," said Blagg.

Mrs. Hand said her family is having a tough time dealing with the shooting, and feels bad for the Short family as well.

"It was a nightmare, it was a nightmare. Like, we could not believe it just happened," said Mrs. Hand.

"He's definitely horrified and tore up. He's been crying and he hasn't slept. We've both been just thinking about his family, especially since it's right here before Christmas," said Mrs. Hand when speaking about her husband.

Blagg said Short was a friend of his and of the community's.

"He's the kind of guy that would not to enter a fire if it was too serious, or he would be the guy who would put his life on the line to run in there to save somebody even though it was too serious of a situation," said Blagg.

"Here we got, Christmas time. We got a guy that's lost his life, a wife that's lost her husband and an 8-year old girl who's lost her dad. And on the other side of this, we've got a guy who has shot a weapon, killed somebody and has got to live with that for the rest of his life," said Blagg.

Mrs. Short was too distraught to speak with Region 8 News, but she did issue this statement:

"Todd was a very good husband and an amazing father, a great fireman. He loved what he did for the community. He was loved by everyone in the community and had many friends. He would do anything for anyone at any time. What happened the other night was an unfortunate accident and I hold no one to blame."