ST. LOUIS • A homeowner shot and critically injured a man early Thursday who was trying to break into his home, police say.

Police say the attempted home invasion happened at about 1:40 a.m. Thursday in the 1600 block of Helen Street. The area is close to Cass and North Florissant avenues.

The injured man was taken to St. Louis University Hospital after being shot in the face. Police say he was in critical but stable condition.

The homeowner wasn't arrested. The shooting could be considered justified under the castle doctrine, Missouri's expanded self-defense law.

Under the castle doctrine, people who encounter an intruder in their homes or vehicles — or on their property, under a more recent expansion of the law — are given more leeway in using deadly force. The law allows you to use that force without fear of being charged or sued.

In recent years, homeowners who shot intruders have avoided prosecution and, in cases where the suspect survived, the suspect is the one who was charged with a crime. In one case a dead burglar's accomplice was charged.

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