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CEDAR CITY - Police in southern Utah are calling a 17-year-old boy a hero after he fatally stabbed an armed intruder who broke into his family's home early Wednesday.
Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower described the boy as a level-headed kid "who, in my opinion, saved his family's lives."
It all began when a 19-year-old Las Vegas man, who was recently fired from a construction company owned by the family, broke into their home at 2650 N. 2200 West, near Cedar City, and held the boy and his parents at gunpoint, Gower said.
The masked intruder, whose name was not released, removed an air conditioning unit from the boy's bedroom window around 4 a.m. and climbed into the home with a semi-automatic pistol, Gower said. He woke the boy and bound him with duct tape.
The man then entered the master bedroom and bound the boy's parents with duct tape. At one point, the boy's stepfather began wrestling with the intruder.
While the stepfather fought with the intruder, the boy was able to free himself. He then pulled a 6-inch hunting knife from beneath his bed, walked into his parents' bedroom and stabbed the intruder five times in the back, Gower said.
The intruder continued wrestling with the boy's stepfather until he realized he had lost his gun, Gower said. He then told the family he was leaving and tried to exit through a locked front door. When he couldn't get out, a family member unlocked the deadbolt and let him out. The intruder then collapsed about 100 to 150 feet from the side of the home. The family called police. The boy's mother stood outside wrapped in a blanket next to her husband as paramedics worked on the unconscious man, neighbor Linda Chapman said. She said the couple were visibly upset.
"This is spooky because this a very quiet neighborhood," Chapman said.
The intruder was transported to Valley View Medical Center in Cedar City, where he was pronounced dead.
Gower said the Iron County Attorney's Office wasn't planning on prosecuting the 17-year-old boy. "We feel pretty confident it was justified," Gower said.
A 10-year-old girl was also in the home at the time of the break-in, but the intruder did not enter her room and she did not see the attack.
"We don't know if [the intruder] was there to even the score or rob them," Gower said.
The shaken family left while investigators processed evidence in their home and towed the intruder's car, which was parked about a block from the house.
"They're shook up, very shook up, understandably," Gower said. "They've had a lot of emotion with them today."