A Florida sheriff is turning heads after he stated that he prefers residents take gun safety courses to better defend themselves after a homeowner scared a potential burglar away by shooting at them.
Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson noted last week that his deputies managed to catch Brandon Harris, 32, of Milton, after a burglary spree in the town of Pace. He was cornered after fleeing an armed resident, Johnson said at a press conference the following day.
“Probably 20 deputies get there, the dogs are out, and he’s jumping fences and breaking into houses as he goes,” Johnson told reporters, according to the UK’s Daily Mail.
“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,” the sheriff continued.
The Daily Mail adds:
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,” Johnson proclaimed.
“So, whoever that was, you’re not in trouble, come see us,” Johnson assured, adding that the unidentified homeowner along with other residents in the county enroll in the sheriff department’s gun safety courses.
“We have a gun safety class we put on every other Saturday. If you take that, you’ll shoot a lot better,” Johnson said, noting further: “Hopefully, you’ll save the taxpayers money.”
Florida was the first state in the country to enact a “Stand Your Ground” law in 2005, which allows homeowners to use lethal force against home invaders if they “reasonably believed” that they faced imminent serious injury or death.
Since then, more than 20 other states have followed suit passing identical or very similar laws. In total, 23 states have “Stand Your Ground” laws on the books.
As for the suspect, Johnson said Harris has a long rap sheet as well as other run-ins with local police which began when he was only 13 years old. Since then, Johnson said the perp has had “like 17 arrests.”
“We sent him to prison for six and a half years for home invasion, and he just can’t seem to get the picture of crime does not pay,” the sheriff added.
Harris has previously been charged with aggravated assault, battery and violation of probation, according to the Pensacola News Journal. In addition, he is 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,” the Daily Mail reported.