PHOENIX, AZ – Video has been released regarding a March 2021 incident where a crazed man demanding a fight with someone right outside their home was fatally shot by the person he was threatening. While the contents of the footage may be contentious to some, the individual who defended himself was absolved of any wrongdoing by authorities.
The incident occurred on March 24th, 2021, at approximately 5:30 a.m. while Benjamin Backus was walking outside of his home located in the area of Greenway Road and 28th Street in Phoenix. While unaware at the time, a man, later identified as 32-year-old Michael Montanarella, was waiting for Backus to walk outside so as to ambush the individual.
In a recent appearance on the Active Self Protection Podcast, Backus explained that Montanarella was no stranger – but rather a neighbor of his whom he’d once had a cordial rapport with.
“[Montanarella] was a neighbor from where I lived before, so that’s how I knew him. He was always outside smoking, so I would say, ‘Hi.’ So, we just sort of built up a relationship over time. He had been in and out of prison a few times and was trying to get his life sorted back together. He’d started his own business, and since I have a background in finance and banking, I was trying to help him with that.”
Backus had become so chummy with Montanarella that he claimed he’d had him and his girlfriend over for Thanksgiving “two consecutive years in a row,” but then things started to go downhill once Montanarella had developed a drug problem.
Backus explained that Montanarella had checked into rehab but was eventually kicked out of the program for physically threatening one of the counselors at the facility. Being a good friend, Backus said he encouraged Montanarella to try and get cleaned up and see if another facility would admit him.
However, for reasons Backus can’t ascertain, Montanarella began sending him accusatory text messages, suggesting that Backus had broken into his home and stolen some goods. At this point in time, Backus had already moved away from where he previously lived where he was neighbors with Montanarella.
Following the accusatory messages, Backus claimed that Montanarella had shown up to his new home, physically threatening him and vandalized some of his property. After multiple incidents involving vandalism, Backus had gotten a restraining order filed against Montanarella.
This would eventually lead to the morning of March 24th of 2021, where Backus went outside to go warm his van up prior to heading out for the morning and saw a vehicle that looked like Montanarella’s parked outside of his home.
“I know I’m paranoid, so I’m trying to buffer that with rationale behavior – things I can confirm – and so I duck around to the other side [of the van] to see, ‘Hey, is it just a neighbor going to work and I’m just being a little paranoid?’ And it is his car, and he goes past my house and flips back around and…he hurls a rock about this big out of the window…and then leaves his car in the middle of the road and comes after me.”
What played out next was caught on video, where Montanarella aggressively charged at Backus while demanding a fight. However, Backus was not playing around in those moments and unloaded a single, fatal shot at Montanarella’s midsection after the aggressor removed his shirt – exposing a knife in his waistband – and charged after him one more time.