What happens when a burglar breaks into exactly the wrong home? Thanks to the Second Amendment, sometimes the bad guys get shot by the good guys.
For one would-be Florida criminal, it was the very last mistake of his misspent life.
When Mitchell Large picked the Pena home in Winter Haven, he did not know that he had just made the worst choice possible. But unfortunately for him, he was about to find out.
Alerted by the noise made by Large, Luis Pena, his wife, and their adult son armed themselves. The Pena’s 20-year-old daughter was also home, but unarmed.
It was just before seven in the morning in this quiet residential neighborhood. But that peace was about to be shattered by multiple gunshots.
A warning shot was fired at the kitchen door in an attempt to scare the intruder away. But Large ignored the warning, and it cost him his life. When he chose not to retreat, every armed member of the Pena family shot him.
When police officers finally arrived, Mitchell, 40, was dead on the floor of the Pena home. Father Luis apparently fired the fatal shot. Luckily for the Penas, he did not have a weapon. But he did have a prior criminal history of assault and domestic violence.
Acting within the Law
Winter Haven Police Chief Gary Hester said, “[A resident] fired a warning shot above the door. That warning shot did not deter the intruder. The intruder didn’t retreat.”
“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 continued.
“Eventually, he did enter the residence, and advanced toward the family members…Whether he was armed or not armed, when he failed to retreat, they certainly had a right…to defend themselves.”
“It appears at least two of the family members fired in defense of themselves and their property,“
Oddly enough, Large lived less than a mile from the Penas, but there does not appear to be a prior link between them.
As part of standard procedure, the coroner conducted an autopsy on Large’s body. Because the Pena family obviously acted in self-defense, no charges were filed.
Even in a neighborhood where something like this almost never happens, the Penas neighbors were very supportive.
Breunna Smith said, “They let him know – ‘hey this is a warning; we’re in here. Don’t come in here’, and then he basically got what he deserved. I mean you can’t just walk into people’s house.”
Denver Kemp, another neighbor, said, “You know, I hate that a man was shot, and I hate that he died. But you know you’ve got to take a stand against people that are doing this stuff.”
The Castle Doctrine
The Pena family acted in accordance with the “Castle Doctrine”.
Known as a “defense of habitation law”, it allows citizens to use deadly force to defend their home from intruders. Because the shooting happened in their home, it was a clear case of justifiable homicide in self-defense.
In addition, the State of Florida has a “stand your ground” law that allowed them to use deadly force to “prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony”.