PACE, Fla. (WKRG) — A Florida sheriff is drawing attention after encouraging homeowners to shoot intruders in order to save taxpayers money. The comments came after a burglary spree in Pace, Florida, in which a man is accused of breaking into multiple homes and backyards as he ran from deputies.
Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson said one homeowner shot at the man during the burglary spree but missed. He encouraged homeowners to use lethal force during break-ins to “save taxpayers money.”
“We don’t know what homeowner — which homeowner — shot at him. I guess they think they did something wrong, which they did not,” Johnson said.
“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.”
Brandon Harris, 32, is accused of the break-ins as he ran from deputies at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20. He had active warrants for violation of probation, aggravated assault and more. Johnson said Harris had broken into at least four homes in the Santa Villa neighborhood.
“He’s jumping fences and breaking into houses as he goes,” Johnson said. “We finally corner him inside a home he broke into on Tom Sawyer (Road), and we corner him in a bedroom.”
In a video released by the sheriff’s office, Harris is seen barricading himself inside the bedroom. Deputies said Harris jumped out of the window and continued running before he was later caught.
Harris was charged with several counts of burglary and attempted larceny. Philip Marschke was at work Wednesday, April 20 evening when he got a call from his wife saying Harris was in Marschke’s backyard.
“It was terrifying knowing I’m all the way in Pensacola at work and this is happening,” Marschke said.
His daughter was playing in the backyard and ran inside to her mother as Harris charged toward the door.
“She locked the door just in time as he got to the door and started pulling on it,” Johnson said regarding the incident.
Harris stood there and looked inside Marschke’s home.
“He like smiled at (my wife) through the window,” Marschke said. “I don’t know if he was trying to reassure her it was OK for him to come inside.”
Harris was being held in the Santa Rosa County jail without bond on his active warrants. His bond on the new charges is set at more than $150,000.