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War Vet Shot, Killed While Protecting Grandkids From XBox Thieves

DETROIT (WWJ) - A grandfather was shot and killed late Wednesday night on Detroit's west side while protecting his grandchildren from a group of intruders who broke into their home.

WWJ's Vickie Thomas was at the crime scene on the 6800 block of Rutland Street, off Warren, where a home was riddled with bullets from an SK assault rifle -- similar to an AK-47.

Vanessa Villneff, the victim's daughter, said a gang of petty thieves broke into her home around 11 p.m. She said her father, a Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart recipient, lives next door and rushed over when he heard the commotion.

According to his daughter, 62-year-old John Villneff was shot in the back while protecting his granddaughter from the attackers.

"They came in here first, beat my nephew in my closet. They have to wire his jaw shut, he has a big gash across his back, I mean his head. They was trying to kill my niece because she took pictures of them, and my dad stepped in the way of the gun and that's why he died, to save his 12-year-old granddaughter," Villneff said breaking into tears.

The 16-year-old boy is hospitalized but expected to be OK.

Police are now reviewing photographs taken by the girl as the intruders were stealing the family's XBOX and Nintendo Wii gaming systems.

"They're viewing the photos now," said Villneff. "She hid the iPad in my dad's house. After he got shot, she hid it so if they were trying to come back in there, they couldn't find it."

Villneff said not only do they have pictures of the suspects, they know who they are.

"I fed these boys, I let them use my shower, they spent the night, they played the game, I took them places, I helped them out, I gave them odd jobs to do just so they wouldn't have to steal from nobody," she said.

Meantime, the victim's family is trying to pick up the pieces. Villneff said she's still comprehending what's happened to her father, someone she described as the perfect definition of a family man. She said he was growing out his white beard all summer so come wintertime, he could play Santa Claus for his grandkids.

An investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and for the latest.

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