WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Massachusetts man who admitted to shooting and killing his own father during an argument last spring has been acquitted of first-degree murder.

Alex Cote, 24, of Blackstone, was found not guilty Tuesday after a Providence Superior Court judge ruled he was in imminent danger of death or serious injury when he fatally shot 43-year-old Adam Casonguay.

Cote said he shot Casonguay once in the chest following an argument between the two inside a Woonsocket apartment last April, during which he claimed his father attempted to strangle him.

The judge determined that Cote’s use of deadly force was reasonable and necessary, given he had no other choice to protect himself.

“[Cote] testified he had no other alternative than to reach for the gun in his pocket,” the judge explained. “Without pointing or aiming the gun, he fired a single shot into his father’s chest.”

The verdict was met with a round of a applause from Cote’s family.

“My grandson would have never done that to his father,” Cote’s grandmother Claire Roody said. “The only way something like that would have happened is if my grandson was getting hurt … to save himself.”

Cote testified that he and his father had a troubled past that included substance abuse and domestic violence. He burst into tears when the murder charge against him was officially dismissed.

“He’s not a monster,” Cote’s sister Amanda Gomes said. “He’s not a bad person … I’m just glad the judge had mercy on him. I can’t wait to get him home.”

Cote was found guilty of possessing a firearm without a license, for which he will be sentenced Monday.