Grandfather killed protecting grandchildren on Detroit's west side

John Villneff shot during confrontation inside home on Rutland Street

DETROIT - A 62-year-old grandfather and decorated Vietnam Veteran was killed Wednesday night on his front porch, taking a bullet to protect his granddaughter.

Police sources tell Local 4 John Villneff died from several gunshot wounds that came from a man using an AK-47.  

The front of Villneff's Rutland Street home is full of bullet holes. 

Family members say four men, all between the ages of 19 and 25, rushed into the home next door to the grandfather's - the home of his son and daughter. They stole video games and pistol-whipped the 16-year-old boy that was home at the time.

That teen is Terrance Villneff. He's a local high school football star and a senior at Robichaud High School in Dearborn Heights.

He suffered a broken jaw and cuts to his head. The teen hid in a closet to get away from his attackers. He's in the hospital right now for treatment.

Terrance Villneff is listed on many college football recruit sites as a major recruit, with schools like Texas A&M and the University of North Carolina interested in him. 

Meantime, the Villneff family says they know exactly who's responsible for the deadly violence.

"I took those boys in and fed them," Melissa Villneff tells Local 4. "They waited and they watched us and planned this whole thing." 

--Melissa Villneff

She says they are young men from the neighborhood who were intent on stealing her shotgun she uses to protect her house.

"They couldn't find it, so they beat Terrance and then shot my father," she said.  

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Police sources say another young family member, a 16-year old-girl, recognized the gunmen and started taking photos of them. The gunmen turned the assault weapon on her and fired, and that's when John Villneff stepped.

"He jumped in front of the gun and that's when he got shot and died," Melissa Villneff said. "He saved her life."

John Villneff's son, Michael, said his father called him just minutes after the shooting.

"He said he was dying ... I didn't even get to tell him I loved him," he said.

Police have the photos of the gunmen and are searching for them.

In the meantime, the grandfather's family say they've lost someone really special.

"He was a good old southern boy. He did anything for anybody around here," Melissa Villneff.

--Terrance Villneff

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