Breaking police news in Lakeland today includes a homeowner who shot and wounded an intruder, a woman charged with DUI manslaughter in a June accident, and an I-4 car chase that ended near Lakeland Ford.

Intruder shot

A homeowner who lives near Gibson-Gallaway Road was commended by Sheriff Grady Judd for shooting and wounding a man who entered his home after throwing a flower pot through a back door Wednesday afternoon.  


Steven Stillwell, 42, of Lakeland, is hospitalized in critical, stable condition, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. 

The homeowner, whose identity has not been released, shot Stillwell, whom he did not know, three times with a legally owned firearm, around 12:50 p.m., the PCSO said. A shotgun belonging to Stillwell was found in the back yard, PCSO said.

“The castle doctrine is very clear in Florida law. A person’s home is his refuge,” Judd said.  “The evidence in this case at this point indicates that the suspect illegally forced his way into the home. The homeowner did exactly what he had a right to do. I commend him for protecting himself and defending his home.” 

DUI Manslaughter

Lisa Breeding, 54, of Lakeland, was arrested Wednesday and charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in a June accident that resulted in the death of 22-year-old Teresa Hammond of Lakeland, PCSO reported.


The accident occurred around 2:50 a.m. on June 20 on Ellis Avenue a little more than a block east of South Combee Road.

Breeding was driving 83 mph in a 25 mph zone, deputies said. A blood sample taken just after the crash “showed significant measured amounts of Alprazolam, amphetamines and methamphetamines, according to a PCSO news release.

Breeding’s 2001 Buick Century hit the front passenger side of a Ford Focus parked on the side of Ellis Avenue, causing it to spin and hit a Dodge Dart parked in a driveway, deputies said. Hammond, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of the Focus, was ejected and died at the scene, deputies said. A man sitting in the driver’s seat was injured and hospitalized; neither was wearing a seatbelt, deputies said.

“I don’t know how many times I have to say this: There is never a reason to drive impaired,” Judd said in a news release. “Because of this woman’s reckless actions, a family has lost a loved one. Please, don’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you are impaired. Call a friend or family member or take advantage of a ride-share program. This is for your safety and the safety of others on the roadway.”


Car Chase

A man driving a stolen car led Florida Highway Patrol troopers on a chase that started on I-4 at U.S. 27 this morning and ended in Lakeland on Memorial Boulevard.

Troopers tried to stop Raul Mata, 28, of Seffner, who was driving a stolen 2010 Hyundai Accent around 10 o’clock, Fox 13 News reported.

He fled east on I-4, exited at Champions Gate Boulevard and then got onto westbound I-4, exiting at State Road 33, crashed into a vehicle at the intersection of Memorial Boulevard, and he kept going west until troopers maneuvered him off of Memorial Boulevard near Marion Avenue.

Mata was charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding, aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, leaving the scene of a crash with property damage, grand theft of a motor vehicle, reckless driving and driving without a license.  

MORE: Fox 13 News

Provided by Florida Highway Patrol

Fire death

An unidentified man died inside a manufactured home that caught on fire around 11:20 a.m. today at 1229 Skyview Cove, Polk County Fire Rescue reports. The call came at 11:21, crews arrived at 11:27, and the fire was under control by 12:01 p.m., according to a county news release.

The fire is being investigated by the Florida Fire Marshal’s Office, and the cause of death is being investigated by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, according to the release.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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