GARFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A Bergen County man is charged with attempted murder, but he says he was protecting his property when he shot a man who was allegedly trying to steal from his car.
That car owner spoke exclusively with CBS2’s Meg Baker about what happened that night.
“Within 20 seconds my life went upside down,” Omar Smadiya said.
Smadiya says he was sound asleep inside his Garfield apartment last Tuesday when his wife woke him up around 3:15 a.m. and said a man was breaking into his car.
“I panicked. I thought if this guy would have had a weapon… come upstairs and kill me or slaughter my family. I took my pistol, he jumped at me, this whole thing happened so quickly, it was terrifying.”
Smadiya is licensed to carry a gun. Police say Christopher Manon-Velez admitted to breaking into a number of cars that same night and is now charged with several counts of burglary.
“He ran down the street – I panicked – I fired a couple of shots, not aiming, out of panic. I didn’t learn he was hit until 10 to 12 hours later when the police were talking to me,” the Garfield resident said.
Smadiya says he immediately went upstairs to report the robbery to police, not knowing that Manon-Velez was hit with a bullet that went through his back and exited his chest.
“Don’t I have the right to protect myself and my family?”
“You called the police after why didn’t you pick up the phone right away and call police?” Baker asked.
“I wasn’t sure if someone was in the car,” Smadiya replied.
“It’s the perfect case of self-defense. This man is the last line of self-defense from where he is, behind him is his wife and his 14-month-old daughter. What would anybody do in a situation like that?” attorney Frank Carbonetti explained.
The lawyer is fighting to have the case against Smadiya dismissed.
It turns out that Manon-Velez did indeed have a weapon during the burglary. He was found with two knives on him.
Smadiya’s next appearance in court is Jan. 28. The husband and father does not have a previous criminal record.