Sheriff: Man, 74, lawfully shot, killed home intruder

MANATEE — Authorities will not be seeking charges against a 74-year-old man detectives say shot an intruder who burst into his Bradenton home in a robbery attempt Monday night.

At about 11 p.m., Hosie Harris said a man stormed into his bedroom and began hitting him in the face and head with an unknown object. The attacker, later identified as 49-year-old Lee Andrew Johnson, demanded money and asked Harris about a bank bag.

“We think he may have been watching the victim go to and from a bank and he went after the money,” said Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dave Bristow.

But authorities say Johnson, a felon who had spent more than a decade of his life behind bars, picked on the wrong man.

Johnson picked up a rifle in Harris’ room and pulled the trigger, but it had the safety on and did not go off. Johnson put the rifle down and began searching Harris’ closet.

Harris picked up the gun, released the safety and opened fire on Johnson twice, according to a news release.

Harris fled from his small home, in the 2100 block of 15th Street East, to another home on the property and called 911. Medical officials pronounced Johnson dead just before 11:30 p.m.

Emergency personnel took Harris to Blake Medical Center with injuries he suffered in the attack, and he has since been released from the hospital, Bristow said.

Harris’ friend, 70-year-old Woodrow Edwards, said Harris has long had difficulty walking with leg problems over the years.

“He has never bothered anyone,” Edwards said of Harris.

Detectives investigated the shooting for much of the day, and it has initially been ruled as self-defense, Bristow said.

Florida law allows people who believe they are in danger of losing their life in an attack to fire on their attacker, both inside and outside the home.

“He was certainly within his rights to do what he did,” Bristow said. “Even if he had not been in his home, when someone is trying to beat you and shoot you, people have the right to defend themselves.”

Even though Harris survived, the attack shook his family and friends.

“Whoever did this can’t have a heart,” said Shirley Jackson, who has a child with Harris’ brother. “This man has lived here all his life and deserves better than this.”

The man detectives say Harris shot has an extensive prison record going back to a four-year sentence for burglary in 1989, following by a six-year burglary sentence in 1993, according to Florida Department of Corrections records.

It is also not the first time Johnson beat an elderly person, according to FDOC records. He also received a five-year prison sentence coupled with the 1993 burglary conviction for battery on a person 65 years or older. Johnson had been out of prison since 2007 after serving three years behind bars for selling cocaine, according to records.