Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Public safety

Burglary binge in Citrus, Hernando counties leaves one suspect dead

BROOKSVILLE — Johnathan Braden crossed paths twice with armed residents during a string of burglaries Tuesday, investigators say.

The first time, at a home on Flavian Road just south of the Citrus-Hernando line, Braden fled on foot with his accomplice.

Braden, 27, didn't survive the second encounter, three hours later and about a mile away.

About 1:45 p.m., Braden broke into a home on S Old Jones Road in Citrus County and got into a struggle with Theron Dunn, who lives on the property, according to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office. Dunn fatally shot Braden, investigators say.

Dunn, 37, didn't have a phone, so he posted a message on Facebook asking someone to call 911. Deputies arrived and found Braden of Crystal River dead at the scene.

Dunn has not been charged. The case will be turned over to the State Attorney's Office for review.

"All indications are that this was self-defense," said Citrus sheriff's spokeswoman Heather Yates.

The shooting brought a violent end to a brief run of burglaries by Braden and Timothy David Stone, 29, of Dunnellon, authorities said.

About 10:45 Tuesday morning, the Hernando Sheriff's Office received a call from the home of Matt and Bobbi Lynn Morgan.

Bobbi Lynn Morgan told deputies she heard a noise, looked outside and saw two men rummaging through belongings on the porch of their home at 16199 Flavian Road, a Hernando sheriff's reports state. Both men were dressed in camouflage. One was holding a knife and tried to open the front door.

Matt Morgan went to get his gun as his wife watched one of the men grab a pair of Nike sneakers and a duffel bag. When Matt Morgan returned with the gun, the men fled.

Neighbors in the rural, wooded area reported seeing men dressed in camouflage running through yards. Investigators say the two men burglarized a vehicle on Friendly Road before they separated.

Deputies found Stone near the intersection of Friendly and Spring Prairie roads. He admitted stealing the Nikes on his feet, deputies say. Deputies also found a knife in the nearby woods.

Meanwhile, Braden headed north, crossing a field and the county line, to 13347 S Old Jones Road. Dunn lives in an apartment on the property and his parents live in a separate house.

Dunn heard glass breaking at his parents' house, armed himself with a gun and went to investigate. He entered the home and found Braden pointing a gun he'd found in the house, deputies say.

Dunn convinced Braden to put the gun down and leave, but as Braden was walking out, deputies say, he punched Dunn in the face and started choking him from behind. Dunn grabbed his gun and shot Braden.

A man on the property waved a visiting reporter away on Wednesday. A woman who answered a phone listed for a Dunn family member said, "We're not talking to anybody."

Stone was booked into the Hernando County Detention Center on a charge of armed burglary and remained there Wednesday in lieu of $50,000. He has served three stints in prison for grand theft, bringing contraband into a detention facility and simple battery.

Braden had two arrests in Florida on charges of reckless driving, criminal mischief and driving under the influence.

Times news researcher Natalie Watson and Bay News 9 contributed to this report.

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