GOLDEN GATE ESTATES — A Golden Gate Estates man described by his mother as mentally ill was shot by an off-duty sheriff's deputy during an attempted break-in early Sunday, leaving him in critical condition.
The mother of Jean Rosaldo said Sunday afternoon that her 20-year-old was in the midst of a "meltdown" when he was shot by his neighbor, Collier County sheriff's Cpl. Kenneth Vila, at about 6:45 a.m. in the 1000 block of 27th Street Southwest.
Sheriff's officials said Rosaldo walked three houses down to Vila's residence and broke into a rear door with pruning shears, stirring the 23-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office. When confronted and told to back down, Rosaldo refused, at which time Vila, 49, shot Rosaldo once in the chest, sheriff's officials said.
Martha Ortiz said her son suffers from schizophrenia and had become violent immediately before the shooting, banging on walls and breaking glass in their home. She didn't see him leave the house and walk to Vila's residence.
"It wasn't a burglary. My son just lost it," Ortiz said. "My son is not a thief. He's just a kid with mental problems."
Ortiz said the bullet perforated her son's lung, which could require future surgery. He remained sedated Sunday afternoon at Lee Memorial Hospital, and Ortiz said she hasn't been able to speak to him.
Ortiz said her son didn't know Vila and was unsure why he went to Vila's back door.
Rosaldo knew Vila was a law enforcement officer, sheriff's officials said. Vila was alone in the home, and his patrol car was parked nearby.
Vila, who works as an administrator in the Sheriff's Office Youth Relations Bureau, has been placed on indefinite administrative leave. Nobody answered the door at Vila's home Sunday afternoon.
Sheriff's Office investigators are handling the case, and an internal review of Vila's actions has been opened. Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Karie Partington said it was "too early" to determine whether Vila acted properly.
Ortiz questioned the Sheriff's Office report that her son accosted Vila with pruning shears, saying the family doesn't own a pair. Sharp objects also were kept away from Rosaldo, she said.
"All the knives are in my room because of his condition," Ortiz said.
Partington said investigators are still trying to determine how Rosaldo found pruning shears, but she pointed out that a pair had been taken into evidence.
Neighbors were perplexed Sunday by the shooting. Some awoke to the sound of a gunshot, and others found more than a dozen emergency responders at the scene after sunup.
Jeannie Merriam, a neighbor, said Vila has lived at his 27th Street Southwest home for about 15 years.
"I would never think anything bad about Kenny," Merriam said. "Nothing ever happens out here."
Neighbor Sheri Barnett said Rosaldo lived in a rental home that has "been kind of a revolving door" over the years. Residents didn't know what drove Rosaldo to break into Vila's home, she said.
"There are three law enforcement officers on this street, and Kenny is the only one that has a marked unit at his house on this street," Barnett said.