A high-ranking sheriff's official wrestled a home intruder and shot him dead Friday morning, authorities said.
Palm Beach County sheriff's Maj. Richard Jenkins, 54, heard the man pounding on his door, then was attacked when he confronted the man, according to a neighbor and a sheriff's official.
Jenkins, who had just stepped out of the shower and was still shirtless, grappled with the intruder for a moment before shooting him inside the home, a sheriff's spokeswoman said.
Neighbors reported hearing sounds of the scuffle at about 8 a.m. and then a popping sound as Jenkins pulled the trigger.
"He heard somebody forcing open the front door," said Real Lambert, Jenkins' next-door neighbor. "They're getting awfully brazen."
The intruder died at the scene and his body remained inside the home on South Palmway Drive for hours as investigators interviewed witnesses and collected physical evidence. No weapon was found on the intruder, officials said.
Jenkins sustained minor injuries. His wife, who also was in the home at the time, was not injured.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera said the intruder had not been identified. Officials believed he expected to encounter someone when he forced his way in, she said. Jenkins' unmarked sheriff's office vehicle was in the driveway and "No Trespassing" signs hung from the fences.
"You could tell somebody was home," Barbera said.
On Feb. 2, thieves broke into Jenkins' home and stole two guns, five sheriff's office uniforms, badges and nameplates. The firearms were recovered days later and a suspect, James Ellerbe Jr., was arrested in the theft, officials said.
Ellerbe remains in the Palm Beach County Jail.
Officials said they did not believe Friday's attack was related to the burglary.
Lambert, the neighbor, said he went outside Friday morning after ambulances had arrived and saw Jenkins being treated for a wrist injury. He was taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure.
Jenkins, a 28-year veteran of the sheriff's office, is one of the agency's highest-ranking officers and oversees patrol operations for the northern half of the agency's jurisdiction. He has been a major for four years and has lived in the Lake Worth home since 2004, records show.
Jenkins has been frequently honored during his time at the agency. In 2004, he received an award for 25 years of service without reprimands, disciplinary action or negative reports.
In 2000, an investigation found that Jenkins had been using steroids. Despite a commander's recommendation that he be fired, a supervising officer cleared him of wrongdoing.
An autopsy will be conducted today on the intruder. Officials hope to confirm his identity through fingerprints.