Montana homeowner who set trap for burglar is charged with killing German exchange student

According to court documents, 29-year-old Markus Kaarma of Missoula, Mont. was in a foul mood on April 23 when he went in to get his hair cut at Great Clips. His home had been burglarized a couple of times, he complained to the stylist. He had been up for three nights straight, with his shotgun, waiting for it to happen again.

“I’m just waiting to shoot some f—ing kid,” he told stylist Felene Sherbondy.

On Sunday, according to the Missoula County Attorney, he did.

The dead 17 year-old was an exchange student from Germany, Diren Dede, attending Big Sky High School in Missoula.

Monday, Kaarma appeared in court charged with homicide. While he did not file a plea, Kaarma’s attorney, Paul Ryan, said his client feels terrible about the death of the young man, but he was also was disappointed that the Missoula County Attorney filed the charge.

Less than two hours before the Missoula shooting, a homeowner 350 miles away in Billings shot and wounded a house guest he thought was an intruder, the Billings Gazette reported. The 19-year-old seminary student was making a phone call in the home’s garage late Saturday when he was shot, Billings Police Sgt. Pat Curry told Gazette. Another man is on trial in Minnesota charged with lying in wait and killing two teenagers he suspected of breaking into his house.

In Missoula, there was no immediate explanation of how Dede came to be in the garage.

“They certainly didn’t tell the kid to come in (the garage),” Ryan, Kaarma’s lawyer, told the Associated Press. “He entered voluntarily.”

According to the charging document, Janelle Flagler, his wife, would later tell detectives that she had placed a purse in the garage with personal belongings all cataloged “so that they would take it.”

Despite the fact that they had been burglarized, she left the garage door open, setting up a baby monitor and motion sensors.

Shortly after midnight Sunday, one of the sensors went off. Looking at images from the garage on a video monitor, she saw a man in the dark.

Kaarma picked up his shotgun, went out the front door of the house and into the driveway, according to the charging document. He told police he heard a sound in the garage, but could not see inside. He then fired four times into the garage, three low and four high.

He yelled to Plager to call 911 but also told her he didn’t want the man to get away. And that police just “can’t catch burglars in the act.”

Kaarma went closer to the garage, and according to police, put more shells into the shotgun.

After hearing the man in the garage say “hey” or “wait,” he then fired four more shells into the garage.

According to the court document:

“He stated he thought he was going to die and that the guy would try to get out of the garage and described thinking he could act like a caged animal. He assumed that he had a knife or a tool from the garage, however, he could not be sure because the garage was pitch dark and couldn’t see anything inside. He stated he didn’t want the male to get away and that he wanted him to be caught.”

The man was by then lying on his side, with injuries to his head and arm, his cell phone by his side. He was taken to St. Patrick’s Hospital and pronounced dead.

“He was a very loved student, especially in the junior class,” said Hatton Littman, a spokeswoman for the Missoula County Public Schools. He had arrived in August and was on both the soccer team and the track team, as a sprinter.

The couple, Kaarma and Pflager, were frustrated, on edge and felt someone in their neighborhood was watching them, Ryan told the AP.  The couple called police “and nothing was done,” he said.

Fred Barbash, the editor of Morning Mix, is a former National Editor and London Bureau Chief for the Washington Post.
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