The family of James Weaver, the man shot by a homeowner as he entered a home in Lower Township early Sunday, says Weaver was looking for help after being beaten up in a bar fight.

Lower Township police cruiser (Lower Township Police)

Lower Township police were called to a home on Route 109 around 3:15 a.m. Sunday. The caller said someone was trying to break into the residence. Cape May Prosecutor Robert Taylor tells the Cape May Herald that as police were responding to the report the homeowner, who is confined to a wheelchair, warned the intruder he had a gun and should not come in. The unidentified homeowner shot Weaver as he broke through a glass door according to the Prosecutor's Office.

Weaver's grandmother, Debbie Cianchetta  told the Press of Atlantic City that her grandson had been at a bar called the Ugly Mug on Saturday night when he had got into a fight. As friends drove him home early Sunday morning, he kicked out the windows of the car and took off on foot, according to the Prosecutor's Office.

Cianchetta says she received two phone calls from Weaver looking for a ride home. As she went looking for him she came upon several police cars in front of the home on Route 109. Officers didn't know at the time if her grandson was involved in the incident. Weaver was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Cianchetta doesn't blame the homeowner for Weaver's death. “It’s just a tragic accident. I don’t blame him. He didn’t know what was going on. I imagine the gentlemen was quite scared,” Cianchetta tole the Press, noting Weaver's height of 6-foot, 4-inches. She said she has raised Weaver since he was 12.

“There was an empty motel next door. He was going to a house with lights where he thought he could get help,” Cianchetta told the newspaper in trying to explain Weaver's actions.

The homeowner, whose name was not released, was treated at the hospital for undisclosed reasons and was released later Sunday.

Taylor tells the Press that a toxicology report will show whether or not Weaver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

No charges have been filed, but authorities say the investigation remains ongoing.


The Associated Press contributed to this report