From The Ledger of April 23, 2009
Homeowner Cleared in Shooting
Prosecutors have concluded a Lake Wales security guard who shot a man who was breaking into his home was justified in using deadly force.
Assistant State Attorney Robert Antonello wrote a letter with his findings about the March 18, nonfatal shooting to the Lake Wales Police Department.
In the letter released Thursday, Antonello said William Cornwell, a hospital security guard, was protecting himself and his young children.
Cornwell arrived at his Grove Avenue home just before 7 a.m. His wife left for work, and he was alone with his 3 1/2-month-old son and 3 1/2-year-old daughter.
A noise awoke him from his sleep and, armed with a semi-automatic pistol, he went to find out what was happening, Antonello wrote.
Cornwell came "face-to-face" in the hallway of his home with Michael Collins who swung a crowbar at Cornwell's head. Cornwell chased Collins out the back door and fired two shots, Antonello wrote.
Collins ran to his vehicle parked in the house's driveway, Antonello wrote. Cornwell ran back through his house, out the front door, and "instinctively opened fire on the vehicle (at the tires and body) in an attempt to disable it and prevent the intruder from leaving."
Collins drove about 200 feet up the road to an orange grove where his vehicle overturned, and he was captured.
Lake Wales police say Collins, 45, was struck in the head and left arm by the gunfire, but survived.
Collins was flown to Lakeland Regional Medical Center for treatment.
He is charged with armed burglary and possession of burglary tools. He remains in the Polk County Jail and is being held without bail on the burglary charge.