A 67-year-old woman and her 90-year-old mom are both safe and unharmed after an armed man broke into their home early Wednesday morning in Interlachen, Florida, thanks to the fact that the woman had a firearm of her own to help defend them.
Authorities have identified the intruder as 64-year-old Reginald Best; another resident of the neighborhood who was being sought by police after a series of “erratic” 911 calls made from his home in the hours before he broke into the woman’s residence.
According to the police report, the 67-year-old said she heard the door handle shaking around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and grabbed a gun to see what was going on. She told deputies she thought it could have been her husband because he works late, odd hours.
The report says she opened the door, and Best forced his way in with a gun. She told him to leave several times, but he wouldn’t and kept saying, “They’re after me.”
She told deputies he raised his arms with the revolver in his hands and believed the hammer was cocked. In fear for her life, she shot him.
The woman then called 911, and he was taken to the hospital where he pronounced dead.
“You absolutely have the right to defend yourself in that particular scenario,” Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach told Action News Jax.
Prior to the shooting, the sheriff’s office said they took several “erratic” 911 calls from Best and another woman at his home on Silver Lake Drive, roughly half a mile from where the shooting happened. In these calls, Best said he was hiding from people outside his house and that there were people in orange standing outside it.
The incident report said he had heard and/or seen unknown people in the woods or in his vehicle near his residence. The third call was the woman who said Best jumped out of the window with a gun and ran down the street.
DeLoach said deputies responded each time within minutes of the calls, secured the scene and didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, but they also couldn’t find Best after searching the area.
According to neighbors, Best was the “sweetest guy” who had never caused problems or given reason for alarm… at least until yesterday morning. The woman who called 911 from Best’s home reported that he might have been under the influence of a drug of some kind, but police won’t be able to confirm that until after the autopsy and toxicology tests have been performed.
This is a sad situation all around, but it would have been even more tragic if Best had murdered the 67-year-old woman and her elderly mother. According to gun control activists, this woman would have been better off living in a gun-free home; advice that may very well have cost her and her mom their lives if she’d followed it. Because she was prepared for the possibility of a home invader, however, both women are alive today.
“If it were not for (the woman’s) foresight to arm herself, the outcome could have been much graver,” Putnam County Sheriff H.D. “Gator” DeLoach said in the release. “It’s unfortunate that Best was struggling with some apparently profound issues and posed a deadly threat to the victim and her family. … I’m grateful that her decisive action stopped the threat, and eliminated the risk of further loss of life, making her entire neighborhood safer.”
I wish that Best had simply stayed away from her home in the first place, but once he burst through the door armed with a revolver, this armed citizen was well within her rights to defend herself and her elderly mother with lethal force, and I’m glad to see the sheriff recognizes that as well.