Lakeland homeowner commended by Polk County sheriff for shooting accused intruder

Steven Stillwell, 42, hospitalized in critical, stable condition, deputies say

2017 Polk County Sheriff's Office Jail Booking Photo of Steven Stillwell (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

LAKELAND, Fla. – Detectives with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to the shooting of a man who they said broke into a Lakeland home Tuesday afternoon.

The homeowner told deputies that the man, later identified as 42-year-old Steven Stillwell, forced his way into the residence by throwing a flower pot through a glass door at around 12:50 p.m., according to a news release.

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Deputies said Stillwell was shot three times by the homeowner. Stillwell was later taken to a hospital where he was last reported in critical, stable condition, according to the release.

Detectives said they found a shotgun belonging to Stillwell in the backyard of the home, as well as video evidence showing Stillwell approaching the home through the backyard.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the evidence in the case indicated that Stillwell illegally entered the home, and that the homeowner did the right thing by shooting him.

“The castle doctrine is very clear in Florida law. A person’s home is his refuge,” Judd said in a statement. “The homeowner did exactly what he had a right to do. I commend him for protecting himself and defending his home.”

Polk County deputies said the shooting is still under investigation.

About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.