Man Fatally Shot After Alleged Burglary Attempt

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A man was killed Thursday after what Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly is calling a botched burglary.

No charges in the incident have been filed, however, County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn sent Kelly a letter Thursday recommending the shooter be charged with involuntary manslaughter or murder.

At about 10:54 a.m., Keith "P.J." Rutter, 34, of Taylor Ridge Road, Glouster, allegedly crossed the street from his residence and entered 18545 Taylor Ridge Road, Kelly told The Messenger at the scene.

"All indications are showing that this was a burglary," Kelly said, adding that investigators believe Rutter was looking to get money from the home.

Rutter crossed the lawn and walked through the home, according to Kelly.

"We were told shots were fired and the person who had broken into the home was laying in the woods out back," Kelly said. 

At 1:05 p.m., Athens County Coroner Harold Thompson pronounced Rutter dead from a gunshot wound to the side, according to Kelly.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, sheriff's deputies had secured the scene and interviews were taking place with the homeowners and family of Rutter.

Kelly confirmed that the owner of the home is Ronnie Shover. That is not the person that Blackburn identified in the letter as being the shooter. 

In his letter to Kelly, Blackburn said that based on information provided to his office by sheriff's deputies "there appears to be probable cause to charge (the shooter) in municipal court.

"In the interest of public safety, I would recommend, at the very least, a charge of involuntary manslaughter," Blackburn wrote. "However, I feel it would be more fitting to charge (the shooter) with murder."

When questioned about Blackburn's letter, Kelly said with the investigation still ongoing and that charges and allegations would be "premature."

"It is important for us to take our time with the investigation," Kelly said. "The man who did the shooting is a good man and we have no reason to believe he will attempt to flee."

The shooter attempted to administer cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on Rutter until emergency medical personnel arrived, Kelly said.

Toxicology tests have been requested by Kelly on both Rutter and the shooter, and the coroner ordered an autopsy on Rutter, according to Kelly.

Kelly declined comment on who fired the shots, saying only that the shooter was a "relative of the (homeowner's) family."