Bonney Lake man pleads not guilty after stray bullet kills neighbor

TACOMA, Wash. -- A Pierce County man is now charged in the death of his neighbor after a stray bullet pierced her home while she slept.

Prosecutors said Tobin Panton fired his gun at a person who stole his car, but one of those bullets hit Linda Green while she slept in her bedroom.

Panton pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter.

Linda’s family showed up to court wearing her favorite color, purple. Linda’s family remembers the great-grandmother as being full of love.

“My sister was the matriarch of the family, she kept us all together,” said Marvin Green.

“What he did was stupid, it should have never happened,” said Linda’s relative Paul Culp. “He was irresponsible.”

Pierce County sheriff’s deputies said Panton interrupted a car thief in his driveway just before midnight Thursday night. Court documents said Panton pulled out his .40 caliber handgun and emptied the clip toward the stranger who was driving off in his Jeep.

Some of those bullets hit homes down the street, including Linda Green’s bedroom window.

Firefighters discovered early Friday morning she had been shot in the head; she died later that afternoon at a Tacoma hospital.

Green’s family hopes the shooting reminds others that using a firearm to protect property can have deadly consequences.

“Don’t take the law into your own hands,” said Culp, “This is why we have police.”

Panton’s bail was set at $200,000 and his trial is scheduled for January.