71-year-old shoots late-night intruder

Tony Pitts

Tony Pitts said that if he was placed in the same situation, he would react the same way. (Photo: Steve Ohnesorge / WBTV)

A suspect is recovering from multiple gunshot wounds after he broke into a Hickory, North Carolina, home last week, only to be met by the 71-year-old homeowner who was armed with a gun.

It was the middle of the night on Feb.15, when Tony Pitts was lying in bed watching TV and heard a knock at the door. Pitts, who is disabled, said it was late and he wasn’t expecting company, so he just ignored the knock.

Then, about 10 or 15 minutes later, Pitts heard another noise in the back yard, but again dismissed it as ice or limbs falling from the ice storm. But a few minutes later, he heard banging on the back sliding glass door and realized the noises had nothing to do with the storm. Pitts told WBTV he heard three very loud knocks on the door before the glass shattered. At that point, Pitts grabbed his .22-caliber pistol and got up.

“Someone was standing in my kitchen, and I started shooting,” Pitts said.

He fired three shots, two of which struck the suspect in the chest. The intruder immediately fled from the home, making his escape through the glass door he had just broken. Pitts said the man was bleeding profusely.

The suspect, who’s name has not been released, jumped over a fence and made his way to a nearby club for help. From there, he was transported to a local hospital where he underwent surgery and is expected to survive.

Pitts, whose home has been targeted for break-ins in the past, said he hates that it had to happen the way it did, but he feared for his life and wasn’t going to take a chance.

“I thought he might kill me,” Pitts said.

“I’m disabled and somebody kicks the door in, I got to do something,” Pitts told WSOCTV.

Authorities said they would decide what charges to file against the suspect when he was released from the hospital. Once the investigation is completed, the case will be turned over to the District Attorney to determine whether Pitts will face any charges, but authorities said that is unlikely.