- Associated Press - Thursday, November 17, 2016

LAKE SAINT LOUIS, Mo. (AP) - Prosecutors have charged a suburban St. Louis homeowner with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a suspected car thief, saying he wasn’t entitled to use deadly force against the unarmed man as he was driving off in the homeowner’s car.

Charles Flagg, 39, is also charged with involuntary manslaughter in the killing of 31-year-old Shawn Jimenez, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/2f8e09Q ).

According to court records, Flagg told police that he awoke to the sound of his car alarm at around 1 a.m. on Nov. 4 and saw through his window a man near his vehicle in the driveway. Authorities said Flagg told police he first yelled for Jimenez to stop, but fired several shots at Jimenez when he drove off in Flagg’s car.

Jimenez was later found dead in the car, which had struck a garage. Police were called to the scene by Flagg himself, telling them he was in need of assistance.

The state’s “castle doctrine” and related laws allow for wide latitude in the use of deadly force in the face of reasonable fear or threat. But prosecutors say it doesn’t apply to this shooting and that Flagg didn’t indicate to police that he feared for his life when confronting Jimenez.

“The takeaway from this case … is if you’re going to have the privilege of being a gun owner - which you do, very much so in this state - you also have the responsibility of knowing what the rules are,” St. Charles County prosecutor Tim Lohmar said. “We cannot allow this to turn into the Wild West.”

Lohmar said he’ll likely present the two charges to a grand jury to determine if there’s sufficient evidence to support them.

Flagg’s bail was set at $100,000, and court records showed he does not have an attorney. If convicted on the murder charge, he could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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