JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Westside resident confronted two men inside the Park Street house where he lives and shot and killed one of them Wednesday afternoon after he was alerted to a burglary by his alarm company, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.
Sgt. Steve Rudlaff said police and the resident were called about 11:42 a.m. by the alarm company about a break-in at the home, which is between Lake Shore Boulevard and Lane Avenue.
The resident made it to the house before police arrived, went inside and confronted two men, shooting one of them, Rudlaff said.
The man who was shot, later identified as Xavier Houston, 24, died inside a silver four-door car in the home's carport. It's unclear if Houston was shot inside the home and made it to the car before he died, or if he was shot in the car, police said.
The second intruder ran from the home, and officers and the JSO helicopter were called in to search for him, but he has not been found yet. He is described as a black man in his 20s, wearing a blue hoodie, dark clothing and gloves.
Rudlaff said the silver car in the carport did not belong to the homeowner, but the tag had been removed, so investigators were working to track down the car's owner.
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said the tag was likely removed to prevent witnesses or surveillance cameras from recording the information.
"That is a sign that this was a planned event," Smith said. "They were looking for a home to burglarize. Otherwise, they would have a tag on their car."
Smith said he understands why the resident entered his home before police arrived.
"He's coming home, trying to protect his home and his property," he said. "Even though he knows police are on the way, they're not here yet. So in his mind, he's going to do whatever he can to protect his home."
Multiple neighbors told News4Jax that they are not surprised by what happened because the area has been hit hard by burglars.
"We've all been victims one time or another," said one neighbor, who wished to not be identified. "Maybe this incident will be a wake-up call to the burglars. Leave us alone."
According to JSO crime data, there have been 16 burglaries, six assaults, three vehicle break-ins and four cases of vandalism within a half-mile of the neighborhood since July.
"You got to do whatever it takes to defend yourself," said neighbor Martin Stegonshek. "It's scary someone could be that brazen."
It's unclear if the intruders were armed at the time. In most cases, Smith said, when someone is committing a home burglary, deadly force would be justified, but it’s also a legal gray area.
“In this case, it still may be," Smith said. "It is still his home and so someone was committing a felony inside. What makes this different is the homeowner knew the people were in there prior to him arriving home, and he also knew police were on the way.”
So far, no charges have been filed against the man who lives at the home. Smith said once the second intruder is captured, he will likely face a murder charge in addition to burglary. Florida law allows suspects involved in felony crimes that result in the death of an accomplice to face the additional charge.
"It was in the commission of a felony and the other person was killed," Smith said. "So it makes them culpable in many case."
Police asked for anyone with information about where that man might be to contact JSO at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.