A family in Tulare County, California, is lucky to be alive after a gunfight broke out when home invaders pretending to be sheriff's deputies attempted to gain entry to their home earlier this week.
The frightening situation unfolded at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday when the homeowner, his wife, and a 13-year-old child were sitting inside the home when they suddenly heard a loud banging on the front door, with several men yelling "sheriff's office" KFSN reported.
"They can hear them yelling 'Sheriff's Office, Sheriff's Office,'" says Tulare County Sheriff's Lt. Joe Torres. "The victims thought it was odd that it was late hours, so the suspects then forced their way into the living room area, they busted the front door."
According to a statement from the Tulare County Sheriff's Office, that's when the family realized the men weren't law enforcement since they weren't wearing uniforms or badges. That's when the homeowner, who was armed, confronted the suspects. A gunfight broke out and one of the suspects was shot dead inside the home during the attempted home invasion.
"The man, along with additional suspects, forced the front door open to the home while yelling “Sheriff’s Office”" the statement read. "The suspects pushed their way inside and that’s when the homeowner confronted the suspects."
At that point, the homeowner and suspects shot at each other, with one suspect hit in the upper body by the homeowner. The suspect died at the scene.
No one else in the home, including a 13-year-old child, was hurt in the exchange.
"Although we are in the early stages, it was a home invasion that went terribly wrong," Torres said. "There were four people in the residence, along with a 13-year-old that could have all been killed if it wasn't for the homeowner taking action."
The entire incident unfolded over a few minutes, leaving the family shaken up, police said.
An autopsy for the suspect has been scheduled to occur later on Thursday. His name and official cause of death will be released once that's complete.
The Sheriff's Office says they are asking anyone who was in the area Tuesday night and saw anything suspicious to contact their department.