A 73-year-old Coon Rapids man was at home alone Monday night when he heard the sounds of a break-in on the first floor and minutes later faced an intruder in his second-floor bedroom.

Gerald Whaley told police he fired one shot.

Police today are trying to identify the intruder who died of a single gunshot wound, in what appears to be a case of self-defense.

According to Capt. Robert Aldrich of the Anoka County Sheriff's Department:

Whaley told police he heard banging and rattling sounds as someone broke through his garage door and into his house at about 11 p.m. Monday.

Whaley said he grabbed the loaded .22-caliber single-shot rifle that he keeps near his bed. When a man carrying a flashlight suddenly came into his room, Whaley fired a single shot.

Then intruder fled and Whaley, who has no telephone, dressed, climbed out a back window and went to a neighbors' house for help.

He was at his neighbor's house, still carrying his rifle, when police arrived.

He was able to give a clear explanation of what happened at his house, Aldrich said.

Police found the intruder dead of a single-gunshot wound in his chest. He had fled down the stairs but collapsed in front of a door, Aldrich said.

The man appears to be about 20 years old, but was carrying no identification and was not armed.

Whaley told police he thought there was a second intruder, but Aldrich said police aren't sure about that.

Whaley had no police record. Police don't yet know if the intruder has a record.

Aldrich said it does not appear police will recommend charges against Whaley. But the final decision will be the Anoka County Attorney's, Aldrich said.

"You are in your own house," Aldrich said. "You have a right to defend yourself and protect yourself."

Police and neighbors speculated that the intruder might have targeted the Whaley house because it could have appeared unoccupied.

Whaley has no car and walks to work. The house is usually dark. Some of the windows are covered by paper bags instead of curtains and the back yard is overgrown with trees, neighbors said today.

Ray Hanson, 36, who lives across the street, said he wasn't surprised someone might break in.

Whaley himself is a recluse, Hanson said. ""The gentleman kept to himself," he said.

Whaley was married and has four grown children, Hanson said.

Jenni Elmore, who lives nearby, said Whaley walks to and from his job at Cub Foods and seemed like a nice man. "He seemed sweet," she said.

This isn't the first shooting on Bittersweet St. NW.

Just over a year ago, a Coon Rapids man was charged with shooting his father-in-law just a block away from the Whaley house.

Michael L. Bethke, 50, had argued with William H. Dosh Jr., 70, over the messy kitchen in Dosh's home in the 11800 block of Bittersweet.

Bethke shot Dosh and was later charge with intentional second-degree murder.