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Police: Largo man who fatally shot stepson fired in self-defense

LARGO — A 73-year-old man who fatally shot his stepson in his home last week was acting in self-defense, Largo police said Monday.

Robert Edward Gardner will not be charged for shooting 48-year-old Jeffrey Mark Matthews, police said.

"He was protecting himself," said police spokesman Lt. Mike Loux.

Matthews arrived at the mobile home that Gardner and his wife share in the Paradise Island mobile home park at 1001 Starkey Road around 3:30 p.m. Friday, officials said.

Gardner said Monday he didn't know Matthews well and had met him only a couple of times. He said he and his wife, Barbara, had been "arguing for a few days" when Matthews showed up and threatened to beat him up.

Gardner said he retreated to his bedroom.

"I went in there and got my gun and stood in the doorway," he said. "I was going to tell him to get the hell out. Before I could say anything, he came charging down the hallway."

Police said Matthews of Fort Myers had a belt in his hand as he ran toward Gardner. Gardner, who suffers from back problems, said he feared for his safety when he fired his .38-caliber gun at Matthews, whom he described as about 6-foot-6 and "a minimum of about 320 pounds."

Matthews fell to the ground in the hallway and died at the scene. Barbara Gardner called 911.

Barbara Gardner could not be reached for comment Monday. Gardner said his wife moved out after the shooting.

Neither Matthews nor Gardner has a criminal history in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Police: Largo man who fatally shot stepson fired in self-defense 10/10/11 [Last modified: Monday, October 10, 2011 10:00pm]
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