A 24-year-old man was drunk and intended to walk into a friend's Foster City home early Sunday when he instead entered the back door of a neighboring house and was shot multiple times, police and his family said Monday.

The man, whom police haven't identified, was out drinking with friends and fell asleep in the back seat as they drove home. When he awoke he was alone in the car in the 600 block of Crane Avenue, where his friend lives. He got out of the vehicle and tried to open the door of a house, police said.

Around 4:22 a.m. someone from that home called 911 to report a possible burglar. Then two minutes later officers arrived to hear shooting from inside the home. The man remains unconscious but is expected to live, said Richard Cooper, his uncle-in-law.

Police have said they don't believe the shooter, a Brentwood man in his 40s whose name has not been released, has violated the law.

He is not under arrest. Capt. Jon Froomin said his officers are collecting evidence and will forward it to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office for review.

It appears the young man and the shooter were about 15 feet away from each other when the gunfire started. The young man was not armed, and there is no evidence of a struggle.

Yet under California law, residents of a home are given wide latitude when reacting to an intruder in their home. People have the power to use deadly force in their home if they feel threatened, attorneys said. However, the law is also open to many interpretations.


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University of San Francisco law professor Steven Shatz said it could be difficult to prove the shooter had any intent other than to protect himself.

"The prosecutor has to convince the jury that any fear this guy had was not reasonable," said Shatz, "that he knew, in fact, he was not in danger."

Family members of the shooter have not made any public comments about the incident. A woman who answered the phone at the home Monday declined to comment and hung up.

Cooper, uncle-in-law to the wounded man, said his nephew is not a criminal and committed no crime other than having a few drinks and walking into the wrong house. He added the young man is studying law enforcement at college and works as a security guard.

"If the guy would have called out to him, he would have turned around and went the other way," said Cooper, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "He could have called out to him."

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335.