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Odd behavior prompted shooting, Land O'Lakes homeowner says

LAND O'LAKES — Neighbors said Gregory Stewart, 32, is a family man with a wife and young children. The Stewarts have lived on Golden Eagle Drive in the Stagecoach Village subdivision for at least five years now, and for the most part, keep to themselves.

Saturday morning, neighbors woke to the flashing lights of patrol cars in Stewart's front yard.

About 5 a.m., Stewart told Pasco sheriff's deputies, his front doorknob rattled. He asked whoever it was to leave, but a few minutes later, the person outside shook the knob again.

Stewart could not be reached Monday, but he told authorities he grabbed his Smith & Wesson semiautomatic handgun and went outside.

The young man in his front yard appeared intoxicated, Stewart told deputies.

Stewart could see he was unarmed. The stranger didn't make any threatening comments or gestures and asked repeatedly for a light for his cigarette.

But Stewart told deputies the man wouldn't leave.

"Don't make me shoot you," Stewart warned, according to a report.

The stranger took three steps toward the homeowner and on the third step, Stewart fired, hitting him in the chest. He was later airlifted to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Pasco deputies arrested Stewart on a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Records show this is his first arrest in Florida.

Although the state's so-called Castle Doctrine protects home­owners defending themselves from intruders, preliminary information suggested the situation "did not require deadly force," Pasco sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said Saturday.

Monday, the Sheriff's Office released the identity of the stranger in Stewart's front yard.

William Vincent Kuch, 23, lives 41/2 miles away in the Lexington Oaks subdivision with his parents.

Kuch has a history of trouble with the law, including most recently two charges of driving under the influence in 2007.

He was arrested for the first time at age 15 by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on battery charges. Three months after he turned 16, the Orlando Police Department arrested him on a charge of resisting an officer without violence.

Information on what became of those charges in the court system was not available Monday.

But in May 2003, Kuch's mother told the Pasco Sheriff's Office that her son, then 16, had threatened to slit her throat and his father's throat while they were sleeping. He was angry because his mom did not let him take his car to cash a check, the report said. Jeanann Kuch, 47, told deputies she was fearful for her life and for her small daughter, according to a report.

Kuch's parents did not wish to speak to a reporter Monday afternoon.

Almost six months to the day after he was charged with assault in the threat to his parents, the Tampa Police Department charged Kuch with underage possession of alcohol.

Information on whether he was convicted on either charge was not available Monday.

In 2005, Kuch faced battery charges by the Orlando Police Department. The state did not prosecute.

Deputies said that Kuch was unconscious but in stable condition at a local hospital Monday afternoon. They do not know where he was before he appeared at Stewart's front door.

Stewart was released from the Land O'Lakes jail Saturday afternoon on $20,000 bail.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Odd behavior prompted shooting, Land O'Lakes homeowner says 08/03/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 3, 2009 10:33pm]
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