Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida, had an opportunity to make a strong public statement on Wednesday about American gun rights and self-defense. His comments came after a homeowner in Lakeland could thwart an invader into his residence by shooting him.
Judd said the homeowner did “exactly what he should have” in giving the invader an “early Christmas present.” Judd noted that the homeowner knew how to use his gun and shot the intruder “a lot.” The sheriff said that the intruder was “lucky to be alive” after the invasion around 1:00 p.m.
The intruder reportedly threw a flower pot through a door at the home’s back porch to get inside. Once he entered the home, the owner shot him three times. When deputies arrived on the scene, the homeowner gave them his weapon and then took them to where the intruder lay in his living room.
The alleged intruder, Steven Stillwell, 42, was transported to a nearby hospital, where he was admitted and listed in critical but stable condition.
Sheriff Judd said that the “Castle Doctrine” ensures the right of homeowners to protect themselves from intruders. He added that he is proud of the Lakeland homeowner’s actions in defending himself.
The sheriff’s department verified that Stillwell was recorded on security video running into the home’s backyard and then standing on the back porch. The evidence indicated that a glass door had been broken, and the gunshots occurred inside the home. Deputies also recovered a shotgun from the homeowner’s backyard to Stillwell.
The homeowner does not know Stillwell and legally owns the firearm to disable the invader. The sheriff’s department is not releasing the homeowner’s name, as he was the victim of the crime in the case. The homeowner’s attorney confirmed that he was home alone at the time of the invasion and that his wife and young child were thankfully not present.
Stillwell has an extensive criminal record, including at least 14 separate felony convictions, and charges for the invasion are pending.
Judd told reporters that because law enforcement obviously cannot be present in every case as a crime is being committed, he strongly supports the right of citizens to defend themselves against violent criminals. He said that he tells people to “get a gun, learn how to use it safely, and load it.”