By Zac Summers
LITHONIA, Georgia (WANF) — The family of a man who was killed after interrupting a reported burglary said he was in the right place, just at the wrong time.
In an exclusive interview with Atlanta News First, Crystal McBride said she can’t heal following the loss of her older brother until his killers are behind bars.
“He didn’t deserve to die like that,” she said. “It’s like, I know he’s gone, but it’s not really registering to me.”
DeKalb County police were called to the Fontaine East Apartments in Lithonia in the early morning hours of March 17 where they found Michael McBride dead. Crystal was with her brother when she said he got a call from a friend at the complex, scared about a reported burglary in the building.
“He’s always told anybody he loves if you need anything call me,” Crystal said. “He was a protector.”
Surveillance video shared with Atlanta News First showed four people with guns kicking down an apartment door before leaving the unit with several items. As that was happening, Crystal said she and Michael pulled up to the complex in a car. The 30-year-old father of two is seen getting out of the car and, almost immediately, there’s an exchange of gunfire.
“As soon as he got out of the car, the guys were coming out of the building,” Crystal explained “I tried driving next to him to see if he could get to the car somehow, but as soon as I stopped, I saw him fall to the ground.”
Michael was shot and killed. Crystal escaped with her life, but she said the thieves tried chasing her down, firing at least two shots into her car.
“I felt the heat from the bullet and the wind, but I didn’t know I had been shot or not,” Crystal recalled.
Three months after the shooting, DeKalb County police have yet to make an arrest in the case. It’s frustrating for Michael and Crystal’s father, Bobby McBride.
“Some mornings I wake up fine,” Bobby said. “Some mornings, I wake up and I’m really angry. If I didn’t have my faith in God, I would be destroyed.”
While the family waits for justice, they’re reminded of Michael’s calm spirit and big heart. To them, he died a hero.
“In my eyes, my son died a better man than me because he died protecting people he loved,” Bobby said.
DeKalb County Police confirmed the details of Crystal’s account of what happened. However, the department said the motive and timeline are still under investigation.
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