PALMETTO, Fla. (FOX 13) - Around 10 p.m on Thursday night a sleepy neighborhood off Riverside Drive in Palmetto woke up to a commotion.
"I believe the cop had his gun out screaming get back in the car get back in the car," said Cassie Galanopoulos.
Palmetto Police said it started with a traffic stop. An officer noticed a driver that appeared to be impaired, but when they went to pull over 22-year-old Avelino Vasquez-Perez he took off, crashed into a home and fled on foot.
"I most certainly thought they were going to get in my house. I was out here with my neighbors and I went running back," said Galanopoulos.
Officers say Vasquez-Perez climbed over a fence and broke into the home of Palmetto Commissioner Brian Williams. His daughter ran to tell him what was happening.
"We think he was trying to merely hide from the police but the fact of the matter is he forced his way into this man’s house. Literally into the living area," said Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler.
Commissioner Williams, a Vietnam veteran armed himself with a gun and tried to stop Vasquez-Perez.
"The man tried to get past him and tried to punch him at that point the commissioner fired," said Chief Tyler.
Vasquez-Perez was hit in the stomach. He ran off and officers were waiting.
Palmetto police are still investigating but Chief Scott Tyler said the shooting was justified and Williams was acting in self-defense.
"We have to do what we have to do to defend our home and our family. If you don’t have a firearm you pick up a heavy object and fight and that’s what he did," said Chief Tyler.
Vasquez-Perez sustained two gunshots and is in stable condition. He has been charged with burglary, battery, and resisting arrest without violence. He will also face traffic charges.