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CORVALLIS – A Missoula man was shot and killed early Monday while he was apparently burglarizing a residence northwest of Corvallis, according to Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman.

Hoffman said the resident reported that he was awakened by noises in and around the house shortly before 4 a.m.

When the resident went to investigate, he found a man climbing through a window that had just been broken.

When the resident ordered the intruder not to move, the man turned toward him. The resident was armed with a handgun and shot the intruder, who then jumped back through the broken window and ran away from the house.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found the man lying on the ground a short distance from the house. Paramedics rendered aid immediately, but the intruder could not be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Hoffman said the investigation into the incident continues. The dead man’s name is being withheld, pending notification of next of kin.

Montana’s “castle doctrine” law allows an individual to use deadly force while in their home – if they have a reasonable apprehension of assault. In 2009, House Bill 228 expanded the circumstances under which deadly force can be used in self-defense.

Hoffman said it is too early to tell whether the “castle doctrine” will apply in this case.

“First of all, I have no idea yet if the castle doctrine law is germane to this incident,” Hoffman said. “But my interpretation is a person has every right to protect him or herself in their home if they fear for their life. They are in no obligation to hide out or call 9-1-1. If they are in fear for their life, they have every right to defend themselves or use deadly force.”

Corvallis is about 30 miles south of Missoula, just east of Highway 93.

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