Lyman High student fatally shot during home invasion
Authorities say Ryan Realford was killed trying to break into a house and escape a deputy sheriff. (SEMINOLE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE)
Gabrielle Finley | Sentinel Staff Writer
February 24, 2008
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS - As a corrections officer, Debra Hutcherson deals with criminals every day, but she never thought she would have to come face to face with one in the middle of the night.
But shortly after midnight Saturday, a young man who a deputy says was trying to escape capture tried to break into the house where Hutcherson, her husband, Floyd, and three small grandchildren were sleeping.
Floyd Hutcherson fired his gun.
The result: The intruder, 17-year-old Ryan Realford, is dead.
Floyd Hutcherson later would not talk about the incident.
"When I found out the guy who died was 17 . . . my condolences go out to the family because that was someone's child," Debra Hutcherson said Saturday.
"But what was he supposed to do?"
One of Realford's friends, Victoria Felder, lives just a few houses from where he was shot.
Felder said she knew Realford, a Lyman High School student, had trouble with the law before, but never thought it would cause his death.
"When I found out . . . I still don't believe it," Felder said.
"I don't know what's going on with our juveniles,"
Realford was arrested in January 2007 on battery charges at Lyman High, records show.
Here's how Hutcherson and the Seminole County Sheriff's Office described what happened early Saturday:
A uniformed deputy was driving an unmarked Sheriff's Office patrol car when he was approached by a young man who appeared to be selling drugs.
The man, later identified as Realford, came closer to the patrol car with an "unidentified substance" in his hand and started talking, but soon ran away after he realized he was talking to a deputy.
The deputy radioed for backup as he watched the man jump a nearby fence and run near some houses.
Moments after the 12:30 a.m. incident began, Hutcherson said, one of her grandchildren was screaming that someone was trying to get into their house.
"They were screaming 'He's out there on the patio!' " Hutcherson said.
Floyd Hutcherson left the bedroom and started looking around for the man, while his wife looked for the two guns they had by their bedside.
Debra Hutcherson said she handed her husband a .357-caliber handgun.
"Floyd told him to get off the patio, but he wouldn't," Hutcherson said.
Floyd Hutcherson was standing in front of Realford with the gun, and Debra Hutcherson stood in the background armed with a .38-caliber gun.
"I was just screaming for him to get out of here," Hutcherson said.
"Then Floyd fired a shot to scare him," Hutcherson said.
"But the shot actually hit him."
Realford ran away from the screened patio, but didn't get far.
Deputies found him conscious and lying on the ground at the side of the house.
Paramedics took the teen to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he later died.
Deputies were investigating the shooting later Saturday.
They said it was unlikely Floyd Hutcherson will face charges because of the state's Castle Doctrine Law, which allows a person to use deadly force against an intruder.
Just a month ago, Debra Hutcherson said, someone tried to break into the home through the front door.
"I went out and got an alarm system thinking I was doing things to keep us safe," Hutcherson said.
Now, even more trouble could be brought to the home that's not even theirs.
The home belongs to her relatives, and the couple were staying there until renovations to their home are completed.
But with six months until the house is ready, Hutcherson is looking to live elsewhere, in fear of retaliation against the family.
Until then, a deputy will be parked outside the home to deter any more violence, Hutcherson said.