It was late Tuesday afternoon when the owner of a vacant house on Prospect Street in Jacksonville, FL’s Woodstock area went to check on his rental property, as he does every day.
But when he entered the house, he found the television on and the place ransacked. That’s when he began searching the house room to room, eventually finding the culprit: a stranger hiding in a back bedroom.
“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,'” the man 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.”
When the intruder refused to comply, the homeowner took aim and shot the man, who police later identified as 19-year-old Anthony Deshawn Burnem.
“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 said 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.
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.
The Sheriff’s Office said charges have been filed against the repeat offender and the homeowner, who has asked to remain anonymous, is not expected to be charged in the incident.