Police believe 53-year-old was shot after interrupting burglary in his garage; no arrests have been made


An Orting man was shot to death in his front yard early Wednesday, rattling the nerves of his neighbors and leaving police scrambling to determine what happened.

Police were called about 3:15 a.m. to a home in the 500 block of Ford Lane Southwest, where officers found the man's body near the street. The Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as 53-year-old Michael Compton, who neighbors said had lived in the home for decades. He died of a shotgun wound to the head, the office reported.

The circumstances of the shooting were unclear but the death was being investigated as a homicide, police spokesman James Schlotzhauer said.

Investigators believed Compton might have been shot between 1 and 3 a.m. in a struggle after interrupting a burglary in his garage.

No arrests were made, but Schlotzhauer said officers were speaking with persons of interest Wednesday night and that residents shouldn't be fearful of a gunman on the loose.

"We are pursuing every active lead we can," he said. "Should people be concerned? No more than any other town."

The Cooperative Cities Metro Crime Response Unit, which brought in detectives from seven law enforcement agencies, is assisting with the case. Police released few details of the investigation.

Compton's mother-in-law told KIRO-TV he had interrupted a burglary of a neighbor's car recently and she wondered whether the burglars had returned. Police refused to discuss motive or confirm whether there was a recent break-in in the neighborhood.

Laurence McLaughlin, who lives on the street, said Compton was a "very nice guy" who he chatted with frequently over the fence separating their properties. He said he heard something about 2:30 a.m., less than an hour before the body was found.

"I hear rifle shots all over this area, but that didn't sound like a rifle," he told The News Tribune.

McLaughlin said serious crime is unusual in the neighborhood, where most people know each other by name and the worst incident he could think of was stolen potted plants.

"We don't get this kind of thing," he said. "It's a little too close to home."

Kari Plog: 253-597-8682 kari.plog@thenewstribune.com

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653 stacia.glenn@thenewstribune.com