A Florida sheriff is speaking out, telling homeowners in his county that they are “more than welcome to shoot at” anyone who breaks into their houses.
“We prefer that you do, actually,” Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson said during a press conference on Thursday.
Johnson was briefing the media regarding the Wednesday arrest of Brandon J. Harris, a career criminal with a long rap sheet. According to the sheriff, law enforcement’s first “interaction” with Harris took place when the criminal was just 13 years old.
Discussing Harris’ most recent misdeeds, Johnson told the press that authorities had received multiple calls after 4:30 p.m. about a suspicious individual in a Pace neighborhood, about 15 miles north of Pensacola, who had broken into several residences.
According to Johnson, approximately 40 minutes later, Harris broke into a home — but this time, the homeowner was prepared, firing a gun at Harris multiple times. The shots all missed, and Harris remained on the loose.
Harris’ night of thievery finally ended when he broke into yet another home, where authorities captured him when he jumped through a window’s glass after being cornered in a bedroom.
At the time of his arrest, Harris was wanted on two felony warrants and one misdemeanor warrant, Johnson said. As for this particular arrest, Harris was charged with felony attempted burglary with assault, two counts of felony burglary to an occupied dwelling, felony burglary to an unoccupied dwelling, resisting arrest without violence, criminal mischief, and attempted larceny. His bond was set at $157,500.
“We don’t know which homeowner shot at [Harris]. I guess they think that they did something wrong, which they did not,” the sheriff 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.”
“Whoever that was, you’re not in trouble,” Johnson continued. “Come see us. 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 the taxpayers money.”
The sheriff also made sure to note that “if somebody’s breaking into your house, you’ve got all the right in the world to defend yourself.”
“Of course [Harris] didn’t get hit, and now we’ve gotta pay for him,” he added.
At the press conference, Johnson also mentioned that during his night of burglaries, Harris chased a woman into her home. Luckily, the woman, who had children inside of the home, was able to lock the door seconds before he got to it and began pulling on it.
Harris has been arrested 17 times, according to reporting from the Miami Herald.