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Man who killed teen banging on his door claims self-defense

Jeffery Lovell, 42, of Chicopee, appeared in court Monday.
Jeffery Lovell, 42, of Chicopee, appeared in court Monday. Dave Roback/pool

CHICOPEE — When his wife told him someone was banging on their door and trying to break in Saturday, Jeffery Lovell quickly got his gun from the bedroom safe. When he saw 15-year-old Dylan Francisco striking the door window, he yelled at him to “get the [expletive] out.”

When the banging continued, Lovell told police, he fired, fatally wounding the Springfield teenager with a single shot to the stomach in broad daylight.

On Monday, Lovell was ordered held without bail on murder charges in what authorities said did not qualify as self-defense. Police said Francisco never entered Lovell’s home.

“Certainly we have a situation here that was a homicide, and at this point it is our belief that it was not justified,’’ Hampden Assistant District Attorney Eduardo Velazquez said at Lovell’s arraignment in Chicopee District Court.

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Lovell, 42, who told police he fired his gun because he felt threatened, pleaded not guilty.

Authorities said Francisco had been drinking alcohol with a friend at a nearby home and mistakenly went to Lovell’s house, thinking it was his friend’s.

“First and foremost this was a very tragic incident involving a 15-year-old boy who was at the wrong house,’’ Velazquez said.

Lovell told police that Francisco was saying something as he banged on the window, but he couldn’t understand what. A second person may also have been knocking on the door, authorities said.

After the shooting, Lovell’s wife called police. Francisco was taken to an area hospital, where he died that evening. Lovell was arrested at his Boucher Circle home. He is due back in court Aug. 19.

Under state law, killing someone who is “unlawfully in a dwelling” may be justified if the occupant acted “in the reasonable belief” that the person was about to “inflict great bodily injury or death.” Velazquez said a grand jury will decide if Lovell will be charged with murder or a lesser offense.

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“We try to charge people with the information that we have at the time and ultimately that decision will be a decision that the grand jury will make,” he said.

After the arraignment, several members of Lovell’s family declined to comment. Family members for Francisco could not be reached for comment.

In nearby Springfield, friends recalled Francisco as a good kid who was known to joke around. Anthony Cruz, 17, said the last time he talked to him, Francisco said he was thinking about enlisting in the Air Force.

“He didn’t deserve to die, he was a good kid,” Cruz said.

Alexander Glynn, 17, who had known Francisco since elementary school, said his friend had a “good future.”

On quiet Boucher Circle, residents said they were shocked by the killing.

“It is hard to believe that in such a quiet area of the city this happened,” said Michael Spillane, 56. “I thought some kids just got into a fight. But a murder? A homicide?”

Spillane said he was home during the shooting, but did not hear any yelling or gunshots. All he heard was the slamming of several car doors, then a flurry of sirens.

Neighbors described Lovell as a pleasant man who minded his own business. They sometimes saw him outside with his two teenage daughters, but said he often slept during the day after working the night shift.

“He was nice, we had them over last year when they moved in,” said Bob Cote, 70. “Just like everyone says, you don’t expect this to happen in your own backyard.”

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Cote’s wife, Donna, said she sympathized with both families affected by the shooting.

“We’re sorry this has happened for them all, for the parents of the boy and for [Lovell’s family],” she said.


Trisha Thadani can be reached at trisha.thadani@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @TrishaThadani.