Florida sheriff says homeowners ‘more than welcome’ to shoot burglars

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A Florida sheriff announcing the arrest of a man suspected of several break-ins who was shot at by a resident said Thursday that homeowners were “more than welcome” to shoot burglars.

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During a news conference, Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson announced the arrest of Brandon Joseph Harris, 32, of Milton, who was accused of committing a spree of residential break-ins in the Panhandle city of Pace on Wednesday evening, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

One of the homeowners fired multiple gunshots at about 5:12 p.m. CDT, but there were no reported injuries, the newspaper reported. Harris was arrested about 10 minutes later, Johnson told reporters.

“We don’t know what homeowner shot at him. I guess they think they did something wrong, which they did not,” Johnson told reporters. “If somebody’s breaking into your house, you’re more than welcome to shoot them in Santa Rosa County, and we prefer that you do, actually.

“Whoever that was, you’re not in trouble. Come see us. We have a gun safety class we put on every other Saturday. If you take that, you’ll shoot a lot better, and hopefully, you’ll save taxpayers money.”

Philip Marschke was at work Wednesday evening when he received a call from his wife, who said Harris was in the family’s backyard, WKRG-TV reported.

“It was terrifying knowing I’m all the way in Pensacola at work and this is happening,” Marschke told the television station, adding that Harris looked inside the home after the backyard door was locked.

“She locked the door just in time as he got to (it) and started pulling on it. He like smiled at (my wife) through the window. I don’t know if he was trying to reassure her it was OK for him to come inside.”

Harris was charged with one count of attempted burglary with assault, one count of resisting arrest without violence, two counts of burglary to an occupied dwelling, one count of criminal mischief, one count of attempted larceny and one count of burglary to an unoccupied dwelling, according to Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office online booking records.

He also had pre-existing charges of aggravated assault, battery and violation of probation, the News Journal reported.

“You hear me talk about frequent flyers all the time. Our first interaction with this individual came when he was 13 years old. Since then, he’s had like 17 arrests,” Johnson said. “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.”