Homeowner fearing for his life shoots intruder

Owner was checking on rental property when he found unknown man inside, JSO says

By Francesca Amiker - Reporter , Heather Leigh - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A homeowner shot and injured an intruder late Tuesday afternoon in the city's Woodstock area, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said. 

About 4:45 p.m., the owner of a vacant house on Prospect Street, just east of Edgewood Avenue North, went to check on his rental property when he said he heard a TV on and found that the place had been ransacked. 

The homeowner, who wished to remain anonymous, said he went room by room until he got to a back bedroom and saw a stranger inside. 

"I said, 'What are you doing here?' He seemed surprised. I told him, 'Freeze. Both of your hands behind your back or behind your head,'" he said. "I took out the gun and I said, 'Just don't move.' I was trying to call 911 with the one hand with my phone, it wouldn't do it. I told him two times."

The homeowner then took out a small, black pistol and shot the intruder 19-year-old Anthony Deshawn Burnem, according to the JSO report.

"I feared (for) my life because I don't know if he has an accomplice or something because I could not see what was going on in that first bedroom, bathroom," the homeowner told News4Jax Wednesday. 

He continued to hold the gun until police arrived and Burnem was treated at the scene then take to UF Health in unknown condition, the police report said. 

"The homeowner had a gun. He was able to defend himself. The law states he does not have to retreat. He could have, he could have been safe by leaving the residence but he is not bound to by law. When he shot the suspect it appears that will be justifiable," said Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst. 

The homeowner said he checks on that rental home every day, but he's now extremely nervous and fears for his life. 

Neighbors said the area has started to have some problems. Jean Lewis, who lives nearby, said she even saw the intruder in the neighborhood earlier in the day. 

"He had been walking around and knocking on different doors, and my daughter had been here," Lewis said. "It's scary. I'm going to make sure my doors and windows are locked, which I do anyway." 

Even though the homeowner had a fence around his property with a lock and "No Trespassing' signs, the accused burglar still got inside.

"It was a burglary because he didn't have permission to be inside the house," Smith said. "He obviously hopped over the gate and got in some other way."

News4Jax looked into Burnem's past and found several similar arrests. In November 2016, he was arrested for trespassing and he later pleaded guilty. On Dec. 25, he was arrested for burglary -- he pleaded guilty -- and two days later, he was taken in again for the same charge. He's still on probation for the burglary case.

Charges against Burnem are still pending and the homeowner is not expected to face charges, according to the Sheriff's Office.

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