Investigators said the suspected burglar broke into the backyard of home on the 4100 block of Greenlawn Way in North Highlands at around 5:29 a.m. on Monday.
The intruder spotted a gun inside a large guest house and shot and killed the homeowner when he came outside to confront him, the sheriff's office said.
When deputies arrived at the scene, they found a man suffering multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
"That side of the street is really quiet. They all mind their business," neighbor Catalina Aguilar told KCRA 3 in Sacramento. "It’s just kind of sad to hear that one of them had to go through that."
The identity of the victim has not been released.
The suspect fled on foot and is still missing.
Detectives are asking anyone with information to contact the Sheriff’s Office at (916) 874-5115.