Peyton Strickland, 18, was killed Friday at a house he shared with three roommates, New Hanover County Sheriff Sid Causey said.
"If this boy would've come to the door, opened the door, we probably wouldn't be talking," the sheriff said Sunday.
Strickland was unarmed when he was shot through the door by sheriff's Cpl. Christopher M. Long.
Causey said Monday he couldn't yet discuss the circumstances of the shooting, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported on its Web site.
"I am anxious to tell what happened," Causey said after he was sworn in for a new term as sheriff. "In a few days, we'll be able to. For now, it just wouldn't be right."
Asked if the deputies felt their lives were threatened, Causey said, "Anytime you have a high-risk entry like this, you feel that your life is at risk." He declined to say what made the arrest high risk.
Arrest warrants alleged that Strickland, a student at Cape Fear Community College, and a University of North Carolina at Wilmington student stole two PlayStation units from another UNC Wilmington student that day.
The sheriff said Strickland was shot by members of a a special police unit who went to help university officers serve warrants.
Strickland's dog, a German shepherd, also was shot to death.
The State Bureau of Investigation is examining the case and three deputies on the team were placed on paid leave, Causey said.
Cpl. Christopher Long
In March 2008, New Hanover County, N.C., agreed to pay $4.25 million to the parents of college student Peyton Stickland, who was killed when deputy Christopher Long, claims to have mistook the sound of a SWAT battering ram for a gunshot and fired through the door as Strickland came to answer it.