Lakeland, FL – A convicted felon was shot by a north Lakeland homeowner after breaking into the man’s house last week, according to police.
The incident occurred at a residence near Gibsonia-Galloway Road on the afternoon of Dec. 15, WESH reported.
The homeowner later told investigators the suspect used a flower pot to smash out the glass French doors of his back porch, then entered the house, according to WFLA.
Once inside, the suspect was confronted by the homeowner, who shot him three times.
Polk County sheriff’s deputies responded to the residence and found the wounded suspect lying on the living room floor, WFLA reported.
He was identified as 42-year-old career criminal Steven Stillwell.
Stillwell was rushed to a local hospital, where he was listed in critical-but-stable condition, WFLA reported.
Investigators recovered a shotgun belonging to the suspect lying in the homeowner’s back yard, WESH reported.
The actual break-in was also captured by the homeowner’s security camera, police said.
The homeowner has a young child and a wife, neither of whom were home at the time of the break-in, according to the homeowner’s attorney, Rusty Franklin.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the armed homeowner handled the situation exactly as he should have and that he will not face any criminal charges, WFLA reported.
“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,” Sheriff Grady told reporters. “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,” the sheriff added. “Only Santa Claus gets to come in your house and Santa Claus is invited.”
Stillwell has an extensive criminal history including at least 13 prior felonies for drugs, fraud, burglary, DUI and other crimes, WTSP reported.
The investigation into the most recent break-in remains ongoing and additional charges against Stillwell are pending, Sheriff Judd told WESH.