“While I am so sad to have lost him, I feel so lucky to have had him for 53 years before yesterday,” Mary McLees said of her husband Paul.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said the Winter Haven, FL couple were the target of a deadly home invasion which left two men dead.
According to PCSO, Mary provided a portrait of her and Paul and said they were married at the age of 19 and had two children together.
“This is a horrific and tragic situation,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Saturday. “We are early in this investigation and hope to be able to piece together how this 78-year-old man who was defending himself and his home was fatally shot. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones.”
Shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, 25-year-old Ricardo Garcia Gomez, armed with a knife, broke into the couple’s home on Laurel Oak Drive.
During the robbery, Gomez had Paul at knife point and demanded he empty the contents of a safe in the home. Paul opened the safe and pulled a firearm out, shooting at Gomez. His wife Mary was shot twice in the incident, but was able to run to a neighbor’s home to call for help.
At some point in the men struggled, and both Paul and Gomez received life-threatening gunshot wounds. Paul was pronounced dead at the scene and Gomez died at an area hospital.
Police say Gomez has one prior arrest in Polk County, in 2010 for Driving with License Suspended/Revoked and Harassing a Working Police Dog and said they did not know why Gomez chose to rob the McLees.