A Florida sheriff is encouraging residents to take gun safety courses after a homeowner frightened a prospective burglar by firing at them – saying that residents of the state are ‘more than welcome’ to shoot and kill intruders and that he would ‘prefer you do, actually.’
Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s deputies caught Brandon J. Harris of Milton, 32, after his burglary spree in the town of Pace on Wednesday when he was cornered by officers after fleeing from an armed homeowner, Sheriff Bob Johnson said the next day at the press conference.
‘Probably 20 deputies get there, the dogs are out, and he’s jumping fences and breaking into houses as he goes,’ Johnson recounted.
‘One of the homeowners, he was breaking into their house, and they shot at him. So he continues to run, we finally corner him in a house that he broke into on Tom Sawyer and we cornered him in a bedroom.’
Harris was charged with attempted burglary with assault, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, attempted larceny and other charges. His bond was set at $157,500.
Although the resident on Tom Sawyer Road fired several shots at the intruder around 5:12 p.m. that day, Johnson said, none of them hit.
That homeowner hasn’t come forward to police, but the sheriff said they won’t face charges – and did the right thing.
‘I guess they think they did something wrong, which they did not. If someone’s breaking into your house, you’re more than welcome to shoot them in Santa Rosa County. We prefer that you do, actually.’
‘So, whoever that was, you’re not in trouble, come see us.’
Johnson also suggested that the unidentified homeowner – and other residents – take the departments’ gun safety classes.
‘We have a gun safety class we put on every other Saturday. If you take that, you’ll shoot a lot better,’ he said.
‘Hopefully you’ll save the taxpayers money.’
In 2005, Florida became the first state in the nation to enact a ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, which said people could use firearms or other lethal force against home intruders if they ‘reasonably believed’ they faced an imminent threat of death or serious injury.
More than 20 other states followed Florida’s lead, passing similar self-defense laws. In all, 23 states currently have ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws on the books.
Johnson said Harris has long history of run-ins with local law enforcement beginning when he was just 13 years old – since, the sheriff said, he’s been had ‘like 17 arrests.’
‘We sent him to prison for six and a half years for home invasion, and he just can’t seen to get the picture of crime does not pay,’ he said.
Harris has previous charges of aggravated assault, battery and violation of probation, according to the Pensacola News Journal. He is also registered as a high-risk sex offender.
Surveillance footage shown at the press conference showed Harris barricading himself into a bedroom in the house where he was cornered, then jumping headfirst out of a closed window, shattering the glass.
He was then swiftly captured in the backyard by deputies.
‘They set up a perimeter really quick, closed it in as they found locations on him, then finally caught him on Tom Sawyer,’ Johnson said. ‘So it was a great job by the deputies.’