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Court docs contradict story of Vancouver homeowner who shot a man he claimed was breaking into his car

A police probable cause statement suggests the victim was not a car prowler, and the shooting arose from a confrontation between the two men.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A Vancouver homeowner was arrested Tuesday for shooting a man who he claimed was attempting to break into his car, according to a Vancouver Police Department news release, but court documents made public on Wednesday put the shooting in a significantly different context.

The incident happened at about 2 a.m. Tuesday in East Vancouver near the intersection of Southeast 148th Avenue and Southeast 1st Street.

The homeowner, Jacob Cantrell, 33, called 911 to report that a man had attempted to break into his car in his driveway with a shovel, and Cantrell had confronted him and shot him multiple times, according to the police press release, which was sent out at about 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The victim, a 44-year-old man, was taken to the hospital in critical condition, police said, and Cantrell was arrested on a charge of first-degree assault. An RV in a neighbor's driveway was also hit by a stray bullet, resulting in no injuries.

Cantrell made an initial appearance in Clark County Superior Court Wednesday morning. His bail was set at $500,000, with an arraignment scheduled for July 1. Cantrell's attorney and his father were present but declined to comment afterwards.

The victim remained in critical condition at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center as of Wednesday afternoon, according to police.

RELATED: Vancouver homeowner arrested after shooting alleged car prowler

Probable cause statement

The court case file includes a jail booking sheet with a declaration of probable cause from arresting officer Zachary Ripp, including a summary of the incident.

According to the summary, Cantrell told dispatchers he had just shot someone, and a man could be heard screaming in the background. Cantrell said he had shot the man three times in the stomach, and that the man had been trying to break into his car. He also said the man had been driving a Dodge truck.

Police arrived and detained Cantrell. The victim was taken to a hospital and treated for multiple gunshot wounds, including multiple gunshot wounds to the chest, according to Ripp's summary. Hospital staff told police that the victim had what appeared to be eight gunshot wounds.

Upon arrival, police saw what appeared to be the victim's truck parked partially in the driveway of Cantrell's home. The passenger side window was broken and appeared to have been freshly shattered by multiple impacts.

Officers also saw a golf ball-sized rock in the road that was consistent with the window damage, although the report states police do not yet know if the rock caused the damage.

Cantrell's car was also in the driveway and "had damage throughout," Ripp wrote, with multiple windows broken. There was a shovel on the ground next to the vehicle, with a pool of blood next to it.

After being arrested but before being asked any questions, Cantrell reportedly said, "the guy busted my fucking car up and I shot him." Another officer read Cantrell his Miranda rights, which the report says Cantrell waived.

RELATED: Deputies investigate homicide in North Clark County

Cantrell then reportedly stated that the victim had been driving around the neighborhood with loud exhaust, and Cantrell confronted him, after which the victim turned around and pulled his truck into the driveway.

Cantrell said the victim grabbed one of his shovels and began hitting his car windows. He said he went and got his gun, then came back and saw the victim still holding the shovel and shot him three times.

The report says Cantrell changed his statement multiple times regarding the sequence of events, and at one point during the interview said that his statement might not be accurate. The variations in his story included whether he was inside or outside when the victim drove by and whether the victim was stationary or moving toward Cantrell when he shot him.

Cantrell never said why the victim's own passenger window was broken, according to the report. He said he didn't say anything to the victim before shooting and called 911 after his pistol jammed, then offered help to the victim.

Multiple witnesses described hearing loud bangs followed by multiple gunshots, according to the report, but police did not find anybody who physically observed the incident. One neighbor told KGW they heard six or seven shots in rapid succession.

Neighbors described Cantrell as mentally ill, according to the report, "describing him as howling at the moon at times" and being confrontational with neighbors. Ripp stated in his report that he smelled intoxicants coming from Cantrell while they were talking.

Multiple neighbors who spoke to KGW on Tuesday said they'd had concerns about Cantrell's behavior for some time, and some said living near him made them fear for their safety. 

One neighbor said Cantrell had threatened his life during a prior confrontation. Two others reported that Cantrell had been seen "outside with a machete at night dancing around" and "in the middle of the street throughout the night making noise, got whips and hatchets."

"I've been anticipating something to happen over there for a long time now," said neighbor Alexandra Harrison. "He's very strange."

The summary document has a timestamp indicating it was printed at 7 a.m. Tuesday. The police press release at 11 a.m. included Cantrell's allegation from the initial 911 call that a person was attempting to break into his car, but did not mention any of the other details from the report or Cantrell's subsequent conversations with police.

KGW reached out to ask why the news release included the phrase "breaking into" the car, which would seem to imply a burglary attempt, but not other details that would contradict that idea.

Vancouver Police Department public information officer Kim Kapp replied that the word "burglary" refers to breaking into a building or residence, not a vehicle, so it wouldn't apply in this case.

"For purposes of getting information out we included the information from the initial 911 where Mr. Cantrell says 'someone was trying to break into his vehicle,' the damage to the vehicle with the shovel and the shooting," she wrote in an email.

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