ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - No charges will be filed against 18-year Malachi Heisler of Pinellas County following the fatal shooting of his estranged father around midnight Sunday.
"He did the right thing" Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Monday afternoon.
Last April, sheriffs deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call at the home 46-year-old John Gordon Heisler shared with longtime girlfriend, Jolene Andrews, and their two children. That investigation led to the discovery of several firearms locked in a safe, and Heisler was charged with being a felon in possession of firearms.
Andrews obtained a restraining order that prohibited Heisler from coming near the home, the children, and their workplaces and schools. The court order recites threats to kill all three.
Detectives say late Sunday night, Heisler smashed a bedroom window with a hammer, then held Andrews at gunpoint while a male companion hid in their bedroom.
"I heard the words, 'Malachi' and 'Help.' That's what I heard when I woke up," the teenager recalled Monday.
He grabbed his assault rifle and rushed out of his room.
"He was in the living room pointing a gun at my mother's head" Malachi Heisler continued, yet he did not immediately recognize the man dressed in black fatigues and wearing a ski mask.
"I had about five to six seconds to make a decision," he said -- and the masked man's weapon was in play.
"He pointed it at my mother first, then when I came out of the room he pointed it at me. So it was a standoff between me and him," Heisler said.
The younger Heisler fired once, hitting the father in the head.
Sheriff Gualtieri agreed that was logical, since the intruder wore an anti-ballistic vest. However, there were no armor plates in the vest. The two handguns the intruder displayed turned out to be replicas that fire pellets.
None of which was known to Malachi Heisler when he made his life-or-death decision. In fact, he told FOX 13 News, he did not know the intruder was his father until his body hit the ground, exposing well-known tattoos on the arms.
"I had a feeling that something like this would happen, but I just didn't know when" he added.