A 40-year-old man was killed Monday as he tried to enter a Winter Haven home, waking three members of a family who each drew guns on the intruder, police said.
Mitchell G. Large of Winter Haven ignored a warning shot fired by one of the family members, according to Winter Haven Police Department. At least two of the family members then opened fire, killing him.
"You could tell they were very rattled, very shaken. I think they were very thankful that they survived this encounter," Winter Haven Police Chief Gary Hester.
The shooting occurred shortly before 7 a.m. after the Pena family woke to the sound of someone trying to break through the lanai of their Marianna Drive home, police said. Luis Pena, 54, his wife, Bacenbina, and their son, Luis A. Pena, heard the noise.
The father discovered Large rattling the french doors on the back porch, police said. Pena retrieved a gun and fired a warning shot. Large ignored the shot and continued to make his way through the back door.
By that time two other family members, also carrying guns, came to help. Police said at least two members of the Pena family shot at Large.
Large died by the time paramedics arrived.
"It's a very traumatic situation anytime you have to use deadly force," Hester said. "Even if you felt like you had no other options, it's really difficult to have to endure that."
Residents who live in the quiet neighborhood woke to the news that some said shattered their sense of security.
"I hate that the man was shot, and I hate that he died, but you got to take a stand against this," said Denver Kemp, who lives a few homes down from the Pena family.
He said there have been more burglaries in the last few years, making him wonder what he would do in the same situation.
"I will tell you, if I felt there was a harm to me or my family, I would shoot him. I think anybody has that right," he said.
As detectives spent the day sifting through evidence at the home, the Pena family endured hours of questioning at the police station.
So far, Hester said it looks like a classic self-defense case, even though they never found a weapon on Large. He said the case will be forward to the State Attorney's Office. By Monday afternoon, no charges were expected.
"Whether he was armed or not armed, when (Large) failed to retreat, they certainly have the right -- if it turns out this way -- would have the right to defense themselves," Hester said.