DETROIT — The banging started at Theodore Wafer's house around 4:30 a.m.
The sound moved back and forth between the side door and front door, repeatedly.
Wafer, who lives alone and doesn't have a landline, unsuccessfully searched for his cellphone. He grabbed a baseball bat, but the pounding became increasingly violent.
"I knew I had to get my gun," testified Wafer, on trial for the killing of Renisha McBride. "I didn't know where this was going."
That was how Wafer, 55, described the moments at his Dearborn Heights home before he fatally shot the 19-year-old on the porch Nov. 2.
Wafer, who is facing second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in McBride's death, will be back on the stand Tuesday.
"Why did you open the front door?" his attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, asked.
"I thought they were going to come through," he replied. "I was not going to cower. I didn't want to be a victim in my own house."
Wafer spoke for the first time publicly Monday during his high-profile trial in Wayne County Circuit Court, which has garnered national attention.
He sat with his hands clasped on his lap and spoke in a calm voice, becoming emotional at times, as he explained to jurors why he got his 12-gauge shotgun, opened the door and pulled the trigger.
Wafer went to the front door with his gun because the most recent banging happened on the side door, and he thought that would be the best way to see what was going on. He figured maybe he could scare people away if they saw he had a weapon, which he said looks "menacing."
He opened the door, and a person came from the side of his house fast.
"I raised the gun and shot," he said.
Wafer said he thought there was more than one person outside his house, nobody spoke and he thought they wanted to hurt him.
In later testimony, he said he pulled the trigger as a "reflex reaction" defending himself.
"It was them or me," he told the jury of seven men and seven women.
McBride fell backward, he said. He put his gun down and looked for his cellphone, which was in the pocket of his jeans in the bathroom, he testified.
Wafer told police, who arrived at his house shortly after the shooting, that he didn't know the gun was loaded.
"I open up the door, kind of like, 'Who is this?' and the gun discharged," Wafer told police in video played previously. "I didn't know there was a round in there."
During testimony Monday, he said he loaded the gun about a month before the fatal shooting. He did so after three people doing drugs in the neighborhood confronted his neighbor, who had asked them not to do drugs there, and the neighbor pulled a gun.
In October, the month before the shooting, Wafer's vehicle and his neighbor's were hit with paint balls.
"That put me a little on edge," he said. "I didn't know if someone was targeting us."
The gun had its safety on, but was racked, ready to fire when he loaded it weeks earlier, Wafer said. He remembered the shotgun was loaded after he fired, he said.
Wafer said he thinks of McBride and her family every day, calling what happened devastating.
"This poor girl. She had her whole life in front of her," he said. "I took that from her."
Some jurors jotted down notes as Wafer calmly answered questions from his lawyer for more than an hour.
Wafer's voice while talking to police at the station after the shooting also was calm, but sounded less emotional than today's testimony.
Prosecutors pointed it out, saying he had been emotional during his testimony, crying on and off, and asked if he reacted that way after the shooting when he was talking to police.
The prosecution played about an hour's worth of video, which had been transcribed, that showed an investigator talking with Wafer after the shooting.
It's unclear why McBride was on Wafer's front porch, but hours before she was shot, McBride, who had been smoking marijuana and drinking vodka, hit a parked car about a half-mile from Wafer's house and may have suffered a concussion.
Police have said they have no information that anybody else was at the home that night.
But earlier Monday, an expert called by the defense said he would have treated a possible footprint on the air conditioner unit at the back of Wafer's house differently than Dearborn Heights police did and preserved it.
"It was an impression that needed to be protected and covered," former Michigan State Police Detective Lt. David Balash said.
Wafer said today he's never stepped on his air conditioner and he doesn't know how the print got there.
The eighth day of testimony is to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday before Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Dana Hathaway.