POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Authorities say a Polk County homeowner opened fire on a man who allegedly broke into his home on Wednesday afternoon.
The homeowner, who lives in north Lakeland, told deputies the intruder threw a flower pot through his glass French doors to access the home from the back porch, and that he shot him three times.
“I’m proud of our homeowner for defending himself. It’s called a ‘Castle Doctrine.’ He has the right to protect himself and his home from unknown intruders,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Deputies arrived to find 42-year-old Steven Stillwell lying injured on the living room floor. He was rushed to an area hospital, where was he listed in critical, but stable condition.
According to deputies, Stillwell was seen on surveillance video running in the backyard and standing on the porch. They said evidence showed Stillwell was shot inside the home, and that someone had broke through the glass to enter the residence. The homeowner’s firearm was legal, according to deputies.
The sheriff’s office considers the shooter to be a victim in this case so his name is not being released due to Marsy’s Law.
The man’s attorney, Rusty Franklin, confirmed the man lives with a wife and young child, but he was home alone at the time of the shooting.
He declined to comment further on the incident.
“The homeowner did exactly what he should have – he had a gun, he knew how to use it, it was loaded and he shot him a lot. He gave him an early Christmas present,” said Sheriff Judd. “Only Santa Claus gets to come in your house and Santa Claus is invited.”
The sheriff’s office said the incident remains under investigating with criminal charges pending against Stillwell, who has previous arrests for multiple burglaries among other charges.