SAN JOSE -- Gunfire shook a quiet neighborhood in the East San Jose foothills Thursday night when a resident claiming self-defense shot and killed a would-be intruder.
As a precaution while they sort out the facts, San Jose police preliminarily listed the shooting as the city's eighth homicide of the year.
The shots rang out just before 8 p.m. on Pine Ridge Way, nestled off Clayton Road. The man believed to have fired some of the shots called police and met them at his home, and told officers an unknown person had tried to break in and fired shots into the residence.
"He said somebody had attempted to break into his home, and at some point he saw some shadows or silhouettes of a person," said Officer Albert Morales, a San Jose police spokesman. "He armed himself with a firearm that belonged to him and returned fire in the direction of where this subject was, in defense of his life."
The resident and witnesses saw the two men get into a car and speed away. A short time later, a man suffering from at least one gunshot wound was dropped off at a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Investigators said evidence including bullet casings appear to initially corroborate the resident's version of events. It was not immediately clear why the home was targeted.
Police have since connected the person who died -- described only as a man in his 20s -- to the shootout, where investigators were seen removing weapons as they worked late into the night canvassing the neighborhood.
Law-enforcement sources said police have identified at least one other suspect in the case, a man who was taken to the hospital for a gunshot wound after being tracked to a location in South San Jose. The man, who is expected to survive, is believed to have been wounded by the same gunfire that killed the first man.
Besides the resident, police are interviewing several people linked to the men who were shot, sources said. Morales declined to confirm that detail, but did say detectives are sorting through a string of conflicting accounts.
"This case is very confusing, with lots of moving parts," Morales said. "Some of the stories being provided, there are inaccuracies and inconsistencies."
The death is being investigated as a homicide as a matter of protocol, until there is a clear-cut cause and questions about the circumstances are answered to detectives' satisfaction. Even if the self-defense claim is upheld, it could remain classified as a homicide if authorities place culpability of the death on one or more accomplices.
Neighbors reacted with a mix of shock and stoicism to the news. Some described the residents of the home where the shooting occurred as "good people."
Fabiola Miranda recently moved to the area and heard several gunshots followed by the massive police response.
"The next thing I know, the cops are coming and closing down the street," Miranda said. "This neighborhood is very quiet and peaceful. This is the first time I've ever seen something like this."
Paul Souza, a lifelong resident of the sleepy enclave where roosters could be heard crowing early Friday, said the shooting triggered an extensive search.
"They searched my yard, my neighbors' yards. They were looking for weapons," Souza said.
He added that he saw "nothing out of the ordinary" at the home, and that he has had his own encounters with burglars in the neighborhood. But he didn't see Thursday's violence as a random instance that could foretell more incidents for his street.
"I'm sure it happened for some reason," Souza said. "It didn't come of out of nowhere."
Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.