JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - iPolice with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said a homeowner shot and killed two would-be robbers during a home invasion Wednesday night.
The shooting happened at a home on Oak Water Drive in the Holly Oaks area, just east of Regency.
There were six people inside the home watching a movie about 11 p.m. when they heard someone at the front door.
"Not even two seconds later, the door is getting kicked in and someone's yelling, 'Get on the ground, get on the ground, shut up,'" said one of the men inside the home, who did not want to be identified. "By the time I jump to the floor, my life flashes beneath my eyes. I hear a bunch of gunshots. I don't know who's shooting, and then silence."
He said they jumped to the ground and remained there for about one minute.
"I look up and there's a man on the ground and everyone else is on the ground doing the same thing I am, slowly looking up. To my amazement, my best friend Tommy saved our lives," said the witness.
The man named Tommy lived at the home and grabbed his 9mm from his bedroom when the intruders broke in.
"One of them looked like a sawed-off shotgun, the other looked like an AK-47 or similar-type of assault rifle," another witness said. "I think one of them had a pistol."
The witness said he only saw two intruders but supposedly there were three. The first robbery suspect who died -- later identified as 24-year-old Aaron Antwan Harris (pictured, right from 2011 booking photo) -- was transported to the Medical Examiner's Office. Harris was arrested in 2011 on a charge of driving without a license. He was also convicted of burglary in Georgia in 2006 and sentenced to 10 years of probation.
Hours after the fatal robbery, police found the body of a man who had been shot several times. It was in the parking lot of the Monument Road Animal Hospital, just a few miles from the robbery. Police said later Thursday the man -- identified as 20-year-old Lawrence Franklin -- was also one of the robbers.
The witness said there have been several burglaries in the area recently, and he wasn't surprised the home invasion occurred.
"There was a burglary right there. My car was supposedly almost broken in to. You can see marks on my car where someone took a crowbar or something," the witness said.
Another neighbor said her family's motorcycle was stolen on Saturday but it was recovered nearby.
"Just on Saturday, they found it up the street thrown in the bushes. They hot-wired it," said Carol Powers. "I have infrared cameras and usually have them facing out to the street, but since the bike was stolen, now I have them facing the vehicles just to be safe."
Powers said there were some other break-ins down the street about one year ago, and she's often concerned about people passing through the neighborhood.
"I have seven grandchildren and they're usually out there playing," she said. "So we get worried about strangers in the neighborhood but usually it's real quiet around here, a real nice neighborhood."
Neighbors in the Holly Oaks area, just east of Regency, said that crime isn't unusual in their neighborhood. Neighbors told Channel 4 Crime Analyst Ken Jefferson about robberies and burglaries that have happened in recent weeks.
"It is frustrating because you don't feel safe. I thought it was a nice neighborhood," said neighbor Maria James. "All of a sudden, just bing."
Jefferson said despite the string of crimes, hope is not lost for the neighbors in the Regency area.
"If one home is broken into that neighbor should alert all other neighbors. So that everyone can be looking out for each other. Don't wait for police, you can solve a lot yourself," said Jefferson. "In light of all these incidents, I'm sure these neighbors will be getting together to come up with some type of solution."
Neighbors like Grant Armstrong, who lives directly next door to the shooting scene, wonder if crime will return again.
"Of course you hear gunfire and they sleep on that side of the house. Anything can happen," said Armstrong.
Anyone with any information about the fatal robbery attempt is asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
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