SANDSTONE, Minn. (WCCO) — A Pine County man shot and killed an armed intruder breaking into his house early Thursday morning. A second intruder fled on foot and for much of the morning a manhunt was underway for him

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The shooting happened at 2:30 a.m. at a home in rural Sandstone, 90 miles north of the Twin Cities. Authorities believe the homeowner truly feared for his life.

The homeowner who is in his seventies was sleeping on a couch downstairs, a houseguest was asleep upstairs. The homeowner woke to find two intruders ransacking his home.

“The elderly man got up, confronted these two parties. One of them produced a handgun and threatened the elderly man,” Sheriff Robin Cole said.

The Sheriff would not reveal details of what happened next, but said the homeowner was able to get his own gun and then shot and killed one of the men.

The other intruder fled on foot. Around midday, Sheriff’s deputies took three men into custody and questioned them about their possible involvement.

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“At this point, we do not feel that anyone else who was involved in this is out and about,” Cole said.

The Sheriff says the case will be presented to the county attorney who will decide if the homeowner was justified in shooting and killing the armed intruder. The Sheriff says at this point, it appears the homeowner was well within his rights.

“He is an old guy. He is a nice guy. He is a guy that I know. It’s a terrible thing to have to do. He feels terrible, but he kind of said he wasn’t going to be killed,” Cole said.

The Sheriff says the gunman who was killed has a long criminal history. In this quiet rural community residents are shaken.

“It’s scary,” Sandstone resident Sue Gustafson said. “I don’t think anyone deserves to die or anything like that, but I do think he was justified in protecting himself and his property.”

The Sheriff is not releasing the name of the homeowner because the investigation is continuing. He is also not releasing the name of the dead intruder because next of kin has not been notified.

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No word on whether the three men being questioned will be charged.

Esme Murphy