A Florida man is facing criminal charges for shooting a suspected teen burglar in the back as he tried to flee, authorities said.
Chad Edward Locke, 51, called 911 after shooting the 16-year-old suspect he saw burglarizing a neighbor’s car outside his Gainesville home at about 2 a.m. Monday, according to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.
Locke told investigators he was “watching television and monitoring his exterior surveillance cameras” when he spotted someone burglarizing his neighbor’s car across the street, according to an arrest report obtained by The Post.
Locke walked to his garage and grabbed a handgun before yelling at the teen while standing in his own driveway to make sure it wasn’t his neighbor, deputies said.
The teen turned toward Locke while holding a flashlight and possibly dropped something, leaving the homeowner unsure if the burglary suspect had “some sort of weapon,” according to the arrest report.
Locke chambered a round in his handgun as the teen suspect started walking away, and told deputies he was “momentarily distracted” while making sure the suspected burglar was alone, deputies said.
The suspect stopped and directed his flashlight back onto Locke, who told deputies he opened fire because he believed the teen was “possibly going to come toward him,” according to the arrest report.
“Victim 1 collapsed to the ground and said something to the effect of ‘help me,’” the report states, adding that Locke went back inside and called cops.
Locke, who was charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, told investigators he only saw a flashlight in the teen’s hands — and not a weapon. He decided to shoot the suspected burglar due to “fear” that the teen would come at him, according to the report.
“However, based on [Locke’s] post Miranda statement, [the teen] never made overt or hostile actions or statement towards him to put him in a well-founded fear,” deputies wrote.
The teen, also of Gainesville, suffered a single gunshot wound to the back that required surgery and he was in intensive care at a hospital, according to the arrest report.
“He is intubated and unable to provide a statement,” deputies wrote.
Locke shot the suspected burglar after he got a “little bit of distance on him,” but it’s unclear exactly how far away he was from the 16-year-old at the time, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Capt. Kaley Behl said.
“He was not defending his own home,” Behl told The Post, adding that investigators did not consider the shooting to be an act of self-defense. “It was his neighbor’s car.”