SPANAWAY, Wash. - A burglary suspect in Washington State was hospitalized after he was shot by a homeowner who was trying to protect his family, authorities said.
The homeowner, who did not want his identity released, said it was terrifying to come face to face with the intruder around 2:18 a.m. Monday morning.
According to investigators, the man and his wife were sleeping in their house with their infant and toddler when they heard noises and footsteps outside and saw an exterior motion light turn on. The man went to his children's bedroom and saw an unknown man standing in the window well.
"My wife and I are still kind of in shock," he says, "I opened a curtain and there was a threat immediately in my face."
He pulled back the curtain and saw the alleged burglar crouched down with his face within inches of the glass, detectives said. After reportedly yelling at the man to stop, the homeowner fired four shots, hitting him twice. He told deputies he was in fear for his family's safety.
"That's just the primal instinct as a man to try to protect my family and my wife," he says, "I'm willing to put my life out there to make sure my wife and my sons are protected from that threat."
When deputies arrived, the suspect was laying in the grass with two gunshot wounds. Pierce County investigators immediately recognized the man, who had just been released from jail.
Before approaching the family's home, investigators say the alleged thief was captured on surveillance video one block away attempting to break into a neighbor's home.
"The caller reported hearing the sound of his riding lawn mower start up, then saw a man running away down a long gravel driveway," according to detectives.
Dale Collins had surveillance video of the incident at his home, which appears to show the same man trying to break into two cars. He walked into frame covered in a blanket, which he leaves behind in a shed. The screen was torn off a bathroom window and Collins says it appeared the suspect tried to break in.
"I mean if he wants to walk around fine, but when you try to get into a house, you're intentionally trying to hurt somebody," Collins said.
The suspect, a 24-year-old man, is "well known to deputies in the area and to property crime investigators." Detectives say he was recently released from jail after serving a nearly one-month long sentence for car prowling. Once he's released from the hospital, he's expected to face charges related to Monday's burglaries.
The homeowner who shot the suspect says he hopes parents remember what his family went through.
"It's OK to have a weapon in your home and protect yourself and your family," he says, "If I know that I can sway someone's thoughts to help them protect their family better and they live, then my job here is successful."
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