The Charlotte Observer
Homeowners in the Florida Panhandle are being encouraged by one sheriff to shoot burglars who enter their homes.
The comments by Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson come after deputies took into custody a “frequent flyer” who is accused of breaking into several homes on Wednesday, April 20. Brandon J. Harris, who Johnson said has been arrested 17 times, faces seven charges after his most recent arrest.
Deputies set up a perimeter in the Pace neighborhood when multiple people called about a suspicious person, Johnson said. About 40 minutes after the first call went out, a homeowner shot at Harris, who continued to run throughout the neighborhood.
The sheriff said Harris was caught when he jumped out of a window of a home’s bedroom.
The homeowner who shot at Harris has not come forward, Johnson said.
“I guess they think they did something wrong, which they did not,” Johnson said. “If somebody is breaking into your house, you’re more than welcome to shoot at them in Santa Rosa County. We prefer that you do actually.”
The homeowner fired multiple shots, but Johnson said Harris came away with just bloody cuts from fencing.
Harris’ charges include attempted burglary with assault, burglary and resisting arrest.
Floridians are allowed to use force to protect their home and in defense of their property.
“A person who is in a dwelling or residence in which the person has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use or threaten to use,” the Florida statute states.
Johnson told the homeowner he or she is not in trouble.
“Come see us,” the sheriff said. “We have a gun safety class we put on every other Saturday and if you take that you’ll shoot a lot better and hopefully save taxpayer’s money.”
Pace is in the panhandle of Florida about 15 miles north of Pensacola.