A man breaking into a Winter Haven home Monday morning was shot and killed by the family living there, Police Chief Gary Hester said.
It happened at a little before 7 a.m. on Lake Marriana Road Drive. A mother, father, and son woke up to the sound of someone, identified by police as 40-year-old Mitchell Large, trying to get in through a porch door.
Chief Hester said one of the family members fired a warning shot.
"[A resident] fired a warning shot above the door. That warning shot did not deter the intruder. The intruder didn't retreat," Hester said.
The chief said Large made it into the kitchen. But by then,three members of the Pena family were armed.
"It appears at least two of the family members fired in defense of themselves and their property," said Hester.
Investigators do not believe Large was armed, but Hester said it still looks like the Penas had every right to fire their weapons.
"It's not a very far reach to assume that if someone's forcing their way into your residence early in the morning, they're not there to wish you well," Hester said. "That's your castle that a reported intruder is coming into, so whether he was armed or not armed, when he failed to retreat, they certainly had a right -- if it turns out this way -- would have a right to defend themselves."
"That's the way that I would react. I'd hate to do that; I'd hate to shoot anybody. But if it comes to me or them, I would," said Denver Kemp, one of the Penas' neighbors. "I hate that he died, but you got to take a stand against this people that's doing this stuff."
Hester said the Penas told detectives they didn't know Large.
Authorities said the family's 20-year-old daughter was also in the home, but did not see what happened.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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