SANDSTONE, Minn. (WCCO) – A Pine County teenager is now charged in a home invasion that left a man dead.
It happened after the intruders entered the house of a 75-year-old man around 2:30 a.m. Thursday.
Officials said 23-year-old Gypsy Watts had a gun, and the homeowner shot and killed him.
Investigators tell us Watts and a 16-year-old boy broke into the man’s house, hoping to steal his prescription medications.
When a sheriff’s deputy knocked on Dave Lilligren’s door at 4 a.m. Thursday, he feared the worst.
“For about a half hour, they were searching around, near our farm, for somebody, evidently on foot,” Lilligren said.
That’s when he found out that his neighbor, who’s been battling cancer, was the target of would-be robbers, and that one of them was still on the run.
The deputy told him to keep his doors locked.
“We didn’t know if it was safe to go outside even during the day. We didn’t know if the suspect had been apprehended, we didn’t know if the suspect was still in the area, so it was a very nervous day yesterday,” Lilligren said.
Police took three people into custody, but let two go. The 16-year-old Sandstone boy who remained in custody has been charged with 1st-degree burglary.
Authorities say the 16 year old was inside the home during the attempted robbery, but fled on foot after the shooting.
Investigators said they’ll know next week whether the boy will be certified as an adult.
He has a criminal history, as did Watts – who had been charged in the past with robbing several Grand Forks convenience stores.
Chief Deputy Steven Blackwell says homeowners have every right to defend their property.
“People have a right to protect their homes and that’s what all indications show here,” Blackwell said.
The 75-year-old homeowner declined to talk with reporters Friday. Neighbors told us he is a retired teacher who is well-liked in the neighborhood.
“It’s a heck of a thing to deal with, and I’m sure he’s going to have to deal with that himself,” Blackwell said.
The homeowner had recently been going through chemotherapy.
In addition to 1st-degree burglary, the 16 year old does face a number of other charges related to the break in.