Man stops home invasion with nearby axe

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Police say it took an axe to stop a 17-year-old during a home invasion.

Pinellas Park police arrested Matthew Cleveland after he allegedly attacked a woman at her front door.

Alex McMaster says he woke up at about 8:45 Wednesday morning to the sounds of a disturbance in his own home.

"My girlfriend started screaming. I came downstairs," he recalled.

The airline pilot found his 33-year-old girlfriend, Christina Robles, and 17-year-old Matthew Cleveland near the front door.

"[He had on] nice khakis, button-down shirt. If someone like that is knocking on your door, you don't think anything to bad," said McMaster.

But police say Cleveland was punching and choking her, even slamming her head into the wall after she opened the door.

Before the attack, Cleveland had asked McMaster's girlfriend if she knew where a park was. Neighbors now say they saw Cleveland prowling around just before.

McMaster says that's when he punched and slammed the teen to the ground.

"I held him there a minute till he calmed down," said McMCaster. "Then I grabbed an axe that I had and held it above him and told him to follow my commands or I could do something else to him."

McMaster says that was when Cleveland confessed to a robbery attempt.

"I asked him what he was doing. He said he was trying to get money off her," said McMaster. "He said he would have hurt her."

Police are thankful he was there, given Robles already took a number of shots to the body and head.

"We don't know what his mindset was or what the ultimate goal was, but it could have been real bad," said Sgt. Mike Lynch of the Pinellas Park Police Dept.

Police say Cleveland is a student at the Richard Sanders school in Pinellas Park, a school for teens with behavioral issues.

They say he had gone to school, but left, seemingly to do this.

"Depending on what his history is like, and obviously what other issues are going they will certainly try to rehabilitate him," said Lynch.

McMaster is glad he was home, and that his axe was nearby.

"Someone comes into your house, you don't expect to see that," said McMaster. "Everyone says what they are gonna do but you don't think until the person is standing there."