A filmmaker known for helping children in Romanian orphanages in the 1990s was fatally shot over an alleged fight over the trimming of shrubbery outside his California home.
Officials say that John Charles Upton, Jr., 56, was found dead on a dirt path in his yard. Michael Vilkin — who owned the property next door to Upton — was arrested on suspicion of murder and is being held without bail, the Huffington Post reports.
In an interview conducted in county jail, Vilkin told KGTV in San Diego that he fired gunshots in self-defense after claiming Upton threatened him after the two had a disagreement about foliage.
“I did not go to him,” Vilkin said. “He came to me threatening and pulled a gun (on) me.”
Upton was reportedly instrumental in bringing an estimated two dozen orphans from Romania to America upon learning their brutal living conditions. His work inspired other influential activists like billionaire philanthropist Richard Branson and actress Jessica Lange to help rescue kids in Romania.
An official statement says the dispute is still under investigation.