Seminole County man fatally shoots bear that charged at him, his daughter in garage

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — On Tuesday evening, a man fatally shot a bear that charged him and his daughter while they were playing in the garage of his home in Seminole County's Wekiva Springs neighborhood, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it is investigating the shooting that happened at about 8 p.m. at the Thistlewood Court home near North Hunt Club Boulevard and Wekiva Springs Road.

According to an FWC report, the homeowner was locking up his home and closing his garage when he discovered a bear that had pulled out trash and opened a refrigerator in the garage.

The homeowner said he shouted at the bear to scare it off, but it returned, the report said.

The homeowner said the bear hissed and charged at him, so he shot it with a .22-caliber rifle, according to the report.

Channel 9's Steve Barrett visited the home Wednesday, but no one answered the door.

Resident John Ray said bears often wander the neighborhood at night, but they seldom approach residents.

"We see them here all the time. I've opened my garage door and been 10 feet from the bear myself," he said. "You give them their space, and they leave you alone. The one time that I did open the garage door, I immediately closed the door and banged on it a little bit. And when I opened it again, he was gone."

Ray said he loves spotting wildlife in his subdivision.

"We love seeing the bears in the neighborhood," he said. "We see deer, turkeys. There's all kinds of wildlife here. So we enjoy that, but we give them their space and stay away from them."

FWC said it's legal to kill a bear if it poses a serious threat.

"Some of the bears are pretty good-sized bears," Ray said. "I've seen ones that if they stood on their back legs, they would be taller than me. So I can definitely see how someone could get scared in the wrong situation."

In May, wildlife officers fatally shot a bear that killed two dogs in a nearby subdivision. They said they believe that bear also made its way into unlocked vehicles.