Police in Sandstone, Minn. confirmed a homeowner shot and killed an armed intruder around 2:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Two men in their 20s apparently tried to rob the man's Pine County home, one of them armed with a handgun, Chief Deputy Steven Blackwell said.
The homeowner was asleep on the couch when he woke up to a man standing over him with a gun. After spending nearly half an hour at gunpoint, the homeowner, who is in his 70s, was able to grab his own handgun and shoot the armed suspect at the scene.
"He feels terrible," Sheriff Robin Cole said of the homeowner. "He's an old guy. He's a guy that I know. He's a nice guy, and it's a terrible thing to have to do this."
The homeowner was not injured, and a friend the homeowner was hunting with was sleeping upstairs at the time of the shooting. Once that friend heard shots and yelling, he called 911.
Police identified the suspect who was killed as 23-year-old Gypsy Watts, of Sandstone. Watts had a criminal sexual conduct charge pending in Pine County at the time of his death and also had a wrap sheet that included illegal gun possession, as well as burglary and robbery in North Dakota.
The second intruder fled on foot before police had arrived, and police found that suspect's blue van about 4 miles away.
"We don't believe it was random," Sheriff Robin Cole confirmed. "We think it was something that brought them there, and we have some information."
Police wouldn't elaborate, but police say drugs, money or guns are the typical incentives in home invasions. OFficers did take three people of interest into custody in connection with the invasion and are not currently looking for anyone else.
The homeowner did not know the invaders, police say -- but deputies do. Meanwhile, residents in Sandstone have been on edge.
Minnesota's castle doctrine permits a homeowner to use necessary force to in order to defend himself against an intruder. At this point, investigators believe the homeowner was within his rights to pull the trigger.