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Defensive Gun Use of the Day: Classic Case Edition

William Cornwell and his wife were rudely awoken about 4:00 a.m. Saturday by pounding on the front door of their Winter Haven, Florida home. A drunken Christopher Deese wanted in after first breaking into a neighbor’s house. Cornwell grabbed his gun and told Deese to take off, but to no avail. That’s when Cornwell made his one big mistake . . .

According to, Cornwell wasn’t content with warning Deese off through the closed door. Unfortunately, his screen door wasn’t much more effective a barrier than it would have been in a submarine.

Cornwell, 33, who works as a security guard, opened his door and continued yelling at the man through a screen door.

Instead of heeding the warnings, the man ran into the home where Cornwell’s two children, ages 3 and 6, were sleeping.

But as tanked as Deese was, the gun in Cornwell’s hand didn’t make much of an impression on him. Not until Conrwell fired it, anyway.

Cornwell then fumbled with the gun, and a shot went off into the floor. Deputies said Deese then stopped briefly, took off his shirt and yelled, “You wanna fight?,” and charged at Cornwell.

A bullet from Cornwell’s gun pierced Deese’s chest, killing him.

And that’s kinda why those who know about these things suggest aiming for center of mass. In the aftermath, it didn’t take Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd long to pronounce it a righteous shoot.

“If there ever was a justified shooting, this is it,” Judd said. “This is a classic ‘Castle Doctrine’ case … The mistake the suspect made by breaking into that home was a fatal one.”

It probably won’t surprise locals that Sheriff Grady sees this as a cut and dried defensive gun use. Judd’s known for being pretty plain spoken. In an earlier case, when asked why a fugitive who’d killed one cop and wounded another was shot 68 times, he replied simply, “That’s all the bullets we had or we would have shot him more.” Any other questions? [h/t Joey Maier]


  1. avatar Silver says:

    Further proof to anti morons who think that without guns there wouldn’t be violence and that the “might makes right” law of the human condition wouldn’t apply to both crime and society.

  2. avatar MotoJB says:

    Another break-in story with a good ending…

    It probably won’t surprise locals that Sheriff Grady sees this as a cut and dried defensive gun use. Judd’s known for being pretty plain spoken. In an earlier case, when asked why a fugitive who’d killed one cop and wounded another was shot 68 times, he replied simply, “That’s all the bullets we had or we would have shot him more.”

    LMAO! Awesome.

    1. avatar Steven says:

      That’s what I like to hear. If you see a man killing/trying-to-kill honest people, then you bet your ass I’m emptying my entire mag!

  3. avatar Mark N. says:

    Come on here, aren’t we supposed to go all Trayvon and everything? “This unfortunate shooting of an UNARMED MAN who was just looking for a place to sleep it off, was TOTALLY AVOIDABLE if Cornwell had had enough sense not to open his front door.”
    And actually, the way I read the story, the decedent didn’t “break into the neioghbor’s house” but instead had crashed out on her back screen porch on the table. She called the police and they were enroute when Deese went next door.

    1. avatar SamAdams1776 says:

      What is all this crap about being unavaoidable? Why are so many whinney liberals upset and the death of a drunken predator. There is nothing basically ewrong with killing–just depends on why. You’re well-behaved, non-threatening, peaceful, you’ll have no trouble from me—-belligerent or threatening me, my family, or my property and I WILL kill you and not think twice about it, or think it unfortunate that there is one less A$$h*le out there.

      As Robert Heinlein said: “An armed society is a polite society.”

  4. avatar Sanchanim says:

    Yup clean shoot, but personally I would have left the door closed.

    1. avatar MotoJB says:

      Me too…

    2. avatar Ben Eli says:

      Kept the door closed and told the wife to call the cops. I’m sure that happened in real life but that didn’t make it into the paper.

  5. avatar GS650G says:

    The residents of Winter Haven can sleep a little easier tonight, Deese won’t be coming over drunk and violent.

  6. avatar lateagain says:

    I thought I read somewhere that this was Mr Cornwells 2nd DGU…seems to be an unlucky fellow, anyone else read the same?

    1. avatar Chris Dumm says:

      Lighting does strike twice sometimes. Cornwell is the damned luckiest damned unlucky homeowner I’ve ever read about.

  7. avatar Aaron says:

    All of my doors… always closed, and always locked.
    Doesn’t matter if my neighborhood is full of people that would make Mayberry look like Satan’s little helpers… crime does indeed export itself from other areas…

    1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      and alarm system on and we have a dog.

  8. avatar Aharon says:

    He’s a security guard and he opened the door? Like hi, welcome in? Duh. In a big liberal city like San Francisco the anti-gun prosecutors might blame the home owner too.

  9. avatar Derek says:

    “That’s all the bullets we had or we would have shot him more.”

    Like a Mother Fvckin Boss.

    I hadn’t heard that quote yet but that’s awesome.

    1. avatar soccerdad says:

      boom! that was the line that had me laughing so hard I cried.

  10. avatar APBTFan says:

    Personally, the mere fact you open your door doesn’t make two shits worth of difference in respect to the outcome. I see way too much laid at the doorstep (no pun intended) of the victim. So what if he opened his door? That still doesn’t give the bad guy an excuse to break in. I shudder to think we’ve come to the point that the mere act of opening your door to see what the hell is going on has some folks questioning your actions afterwards. My feelings? The second you walk onto someone else’s property with ill intent you lose, right then and there, all claim contrary to what happens to you.

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      The arm chair quarterbacks on the evening news love to play the game of “the homeowner asked for it” this way. If they were to say rape victims invited an assault by wearing short pants or low cut shirts there would be outrage but a DGU gets special treatment.

  11. avatar Frank says:

    Having lived in this county for 5 years, I have seen our Sheriff many times. I have even sold his father a shotgun. He is a colorful person for sure. And for Derek there are T- shirt with the saying from the Sheriff about the 68 times. It was a quote after one of the deputies and his canine were killed by this 2 bit hood rat who was hiding out in the woods. Polk County Florida.

  12. avatar Accur81 says:

    Best not to invade an armed man’s castle!

  13. avatar Will says:

    I am from Polk County myself. Sheriff Grady Judd is old school, no nonsense, tell it like it is and the people around here love him. He also runs a tight ship. I had a chance to do an internship with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and it’s amazing how many calls the deputies would take that were technically in the Lakeland Police Department’s jurisdiction. Picking up the slack of other departments really plays to their mission statement, “Pride In Service”. Great group of people.

  14. If you’re going to lock your door, then latch the screen door, too. It slows the intruder down when you have to open the main door.

  15. avatar flboots says:

    We need more Sheriffs like Grady and Sheriff Joe (AZ), Tell it like it is.

  16. avatar Cheri says:

    So sad to hear all the insensitivity surrounding my brother , Chris. Not one of you has met with the investigators right? Then you have NO IDEA what really happened that night RIGHT?? Well, I have met with the ivestigators FIRST HAND and I DO KNOW what happened. Shame on you for praising a man who stole another man’s life and for slandering a deceased person. Chris was not breaking into homes Mr. Know it alls! Boy, won’t y’all feel stupid when the TRUTH PREVAILS! He gone and cannot tell his side, so be sure to go by EXACTLY what the papers say? Ignorance. Might wanna hold your evil tongues…. Might come back to bite you! I pray for all of you it doesn’t, I will assume it would crush you if someone you were so very close to was being slandered….. Let’s take it easy until ALL THE DETAILS of the case come out….

    1. avatar soccerdad says:

      I will say I’m sorry for your loss. Justified or not, the families of someone killed are always affected.

      I’ll also agree with you that one news story does NOT equate to a police report, especially in the south. If you feel your brother was NOT in the wrong for going into this man’s house in the middle of the night, please feel free to plead his case and enlighten us. We are all listening.

      Just know that this site is geared towards people who own guns, understand our rights under the constitution, and are looking for stories of why we are ‘right’. Please, prove us wrong.


      1. avatar MotoJB says:

        Very, very well said.

    2. avatar k trouble says:

      I’m sorry about your loss. A lot of peoples lives have changed. I don’t know why the Cornwell called 911 and hung up on 911. Then 911 called Cornwell back. Their are a lot of thing that just don’t make sence to me.

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