Man dead, 2 people hurt in Polk County home invasion attack

Deputies investigate incident that led to shooting on Laurel Oak Drive

Prior mugshot of Ricardo Gomez from 2010, courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
Prior mugshot of Ricardo Gomez from 2010, courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – A man was killed, and his wife and a home intruder were hurt, during an incident Saturday in unincorporated Winter Haven, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.

A call was received around 3:40 p.m. about a shooting at a home in the 5400 block of Laurel Oak Drive.

Deputies said Mary McLees, 72, who was outside the home, had been shot twice. She told deputies an armed man was still in her home with her husband, Paul McLees, 78.

Deputies made a tactical approach into the home and found Paul McLees and the suspect, identified by the Sheriff's Office as Ricardo Gomez, 25, in a back bedroom. Deputies said they both had gunshot wounds.

According to the investigation so far, Gomez entered the McLees' home armed with a large knife. Deputies said while Gomez was forcing Paul McLees at knifepoint to open a safe, Paul McLees pulled a firearm out of the safe and began shooting at Gomez.

Mary McLees was shot twice in the process. Deputies said she was able to escape and run to a neighbor's home to call for help.

First responders were unable to revive Paul McLees and he was pronounced dead, deputies said. Gomez was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries and was undergoing surgery.

Deputies said it is unknown why Gomez chose to rob the McLees or exactly how the subsequent shootings of Gomez and McLees took place.

"This is a horrific and tragic situation," Sheriff Grady Judd said. "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."

The Sheriff's Office said Gomez has one prior arrest in Polk County in 2010 for DWLSR and harassing a working police dog.

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