NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- A popular fifth-grade teacher will not face prosecution for fatally shooting a knife-wielding prowler in a ski mask who turned out to be his 15-year-old son, a prosecutor announced Friday.
Jeffrey Giuliano reasonably believed the masked person "presented him with the threat of imminent death or great bodily harm" and that he needed to use deadly force to defend himself, State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III wrote.
Investigators were unable to determine why the boy, Tyler Giuliano, was outside after midnight wearing a ski mask and carrying a flip-style knife with the blade open and a roll of duct tape under his arm.
Giuliano’s attorney, Gene Zingaro, said he did not expect Giuliano to be charged.
"Obviously we’re relieved," Zingaro said. "That being said, today is not a happy day for the Giuliano family. We expected this result from the beginning, because we always felt like he was justified in his actions that night."
Giuliano went outside his New Fairfield home with a gun around 1 a.m. on Sept. 27, 2012, when his sister called to say someone was trying to break into her house next door, Sedensky said. On her front porch, Giuliano saw a person he didn’t recognize who was dressed all in black, wearing a ski mask over his face and was manipulating the lock on the front door in an apparent attempt to gain entry, according to the report.
The person jumped off the porch and proceeded down the walkway and became hidden by an SUV parked in the driveway, the report said.
Giuliano yelled "freeze!" and noticed a small, metallic object in the person’s hand that he believed was a gun or knife, according to the report. He yelled "drop it!" but the person growled in an aggressive manner and stepped toward Guliano, who was about 44 feet away, the report said.
Giuliano fired seven times and yelled to his sister to call 911.
Tyler suffered three gunshot wounds. Giuliano was told six hours later while being treated for shock in a hospital that the person he shot was his son, Zingaro said.
"Under these circumstances, where Giuliano observed a disguised subject, who had been attempting to break into his sister’s home just moments earlier, aggressively advancing towards him armed with a gun or a knife, he reasonably believed that the subject presented the imminent threat of death or great bodily harm and that the use of deadly force was necessary to defend himself," Sedensky wrote. "Finally, because of the close distance between the subject and himself, it would not have been possible for Giuliano to know whether he could retreat with complete safety to avoid shooting the subject."
Giuliano was aware of a recent sexual assault in New Fairfield and that the suspect was still at large, the report said. Giuliano was so concerned that he called a family meeting to make sure his children took precautions, his attorney has said.
"Weighing heavily on his mind was the fact that there was a forced entry rape a day or two before in New Fairfield," Zingaro said in 2012. "In my estimation, Jeff Giuliano felt like he had happened upon maybe the same intruder."
The report didn’t speculate on what Tyler was doing outside his aunt’s house dressed in what investigators characterized as clothing consistent with someone about to engage in illegal activity. He is not a suspect in any other crime and had no drugs in his system, the report said.
Giuliano and his wife adopted Tyler and his sister about four years before the shooting. The children would have gone into foster care if the couple, who had three other children, had not adopted them, Zingaro said.
Tyler and his adoptive father shared a love of music and the Civilian Air Patrol, in which Tyler served as a cadet and enjoyed flying gliders and small aircraft, Zingaro said.
Giuliano, affectionately known around Meeting House Hill School as Mr. G, holds summer music and zoology camps for his students and plays guitar in a local rock band that raises money for charity, schools superintendent Alicia Roy said at the time.