Ten months after the shooting death of a New Athens man in Lenzburg was ruled justified because police said the man was committing a home invasion, his family is suing the shooter.
A lawsuit filed by the family of David L. Shemonia alleges homeowner Bruce Shockley on Jan. 15 wrongfully caused Shemonia’s death by shooting him. The suit argues that Shockley should have given a warning that he was armed and that lethal force was not necessary. The suit accuses Shockley of “intentionally and maliciously” shooting Shemonia, “fully intending to cause great bodily harm or death.”
Prosecutors, after reviewing a police investigation, declined to file charges. Attorneys for Shockley could not be reached for comment.
Shockley is the father of Shemonia’s ex-girlfriend, Brittany Shockley. Shemonia and Brittany Shockley formerly lived in the Shockley home. Shemonia, who was 31, is survived by three sons.
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On Jan. 15, Bruce Shockley fired shots toward a person he saw trying to enter through a bedroom window of his home at 9401 Torrens Lane in Lenzburg. The person was David L. Shemonia, who had been in a years-long relationship with Shockley’s daughter and who had previously lived in the home. Shemonia died of a single gunshot.
Judy Gamble-Krauss, Shemonia’s aunt, is listed as the administrator of Shemonia’s estate. Gamble-Krauss says in the suit that Shockley was negligent when he shot at Shemonia.
Statements given to police by family members established Shockley and Shemonia did not get along.
“There’s a lot of questions that I think the family would like to have answered,” said Belleville attorney Philip Rice, who represents Gamble-Krauss. Rice said the family wants the court to “closely investigate what steps were taken to determine exactly what happened, what investigation was performed and what findings there were.”
St. Clair County Sheriff’s deputies responded to Bruce and Connie Shockley’s home at 9401 Torrens Lane in Lenzburg shortly before 6 p.m. Jan. 15 after receiving 911 calls reporting a man was shot. The first arriving deputies found Shemonia’s body in the yard outside the Shockley home, between a driveway and a lake.
According to deputies’ reports, Bruce Shockley was the only one home and was sleeping in his room. Shockley told police his dog started barking, so he went to the front door to see who was there, but saw nothing. He reported seeing Shemonia’s white Dodge Neon parked in the back yard when he looked out the rear bathroom’s window.
Bruce Shockley told deputies he heard a window break in a back bedroom and fired shots toward an intruder. Deputies who examined the scene found a broken window screen in the back bedroom and located at least four shell casings.
The reports state Shockley told deputies he then heard a window break in a rear bedroom. He raced down the hall and saw the window screen broken on the room’s floor. He said he went into his own room to retrieve the .45-caliber handgun that he kept loaded in a pouch under the bed. He said when he saw the window’s blinds shaking and someone coming into the house, he fired three rounds.
Shockley told deputies he wasn’t sure if he’d hit the intruder with any of the shots. He said he called out to Shemonia to see if it was him but did not get an answer. He said he was scared, so he didn’t leave the house. He said he called 911 and his daughter.
Both Gamble-Krauss and Shemonia’s mother, Susan Recker, told deputies that Shemonia struggled with drug addiction. Recker told police that Shemonia and Brittany Shockley lived together but that Brittany Shockley had asked him to leave Jan. 15. Recker said Shemonia was at her home that day, and they discussed the possibility that Shemonia would go to rehab in the next few days. When Shemonia left her house, Recker said she did not know he was going to the Shockley residence.
Inside the Shockley home, deputies found the broken window screen and four shell casings in the rear bedroom.
Shockley told police that shortly before Jan. 15, Shemonia had threatened to slit his wife Connie’s throat and burn their house down. Jessica Hiller, another daughter of the Shockleys, also told police she’d heard Shemonia threaten to burn the house down.
Connie Shockley, who was babysitting in Missouri the night of the shooting, told police she believed Shemonia had come to the house to burn it down and that he likely did not know Bruce Shockley was at home because his car was parked in the garage. Deputies who examined Shemonia’s car found no weapons and nothing he could have used to set a fire.
Brittany Shockley, ex-girlfriend of David Shemonia, told police Shemonia had made threats to her family members in the past and once told her if she ever broke up with him, he’d kill her father.
Threats from Shemonia were nothing new, according to Brittany Shockley. In her statement to police, she said Shemonia made threats toward her family members often, even saying that if she ever broke up with him, he’d kill Bruce Shockley. Brittany said she didn’t think anything of the threats.
Gamble-Krauss told police the animosity between Shemonia and Bruce Shockley went both ways. She said Shockley had stabbed Shemonia in the past, though no record of a stabbing incident could be located.
According to St. Clair County Deputy Coroner Curtis Schildknecht’s report, Shemonia died of a single gunshot in his chest. He described the bullet’s path as “entering the front left chest area through the heart, diaphragm, liver and exiting the right lower chest.” A toxicology screen showed the presence of anti-anxiety drugs, cannabis and opiate narcotics in Shemonia’s system.
Deputies turned their investigation over to St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, who in early February declined to charge Shockley.
Gamble-Krauss seeks damages of more than $50,000 in each of two counts in her suit against Shockley.
Shockley is represented by Belleville lawyers Garrett Hoerner and James Gehrs. They could not be reached for comment.