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Standoff with barricaded man in Brooksville ends peacefully

BROOKSVILLE — Andrew Christian Hensley — shirtless with wildly tangled hair and a splotchy brown beard — spit on the back window of the patrol car at news photographers as they snapped his picture.

His hands cuffed behind him, the man's eyes widened behind his wire-framed glasses. As the 25-year-old screamed and writhed in the back seat, the deputy pulled away, headed for the Hernando County jail.

It was the end of a long day for Hensley, sheriff's deputies and the rural neighborhood off Weatherly Road in east Hernando County that was shut down by a standoff for nearly seven hours. After a long negotiation, deputies persuaded Hensley to surrender.

It began just after 8 a.m. Friday when deputies tried to serve Hensley with felony arrest warrants. When he saw the deputies, authorities say, he told them he was armed and refused to come outside.

Soon after, investigators swarmed the area and reportedly told neighbors Hensley had claimed to have explosives inside his small brick guesthouse at 24431 McCaw Road.

Deborah Nelles, who has lived in the neighborhood for almost 20 years, said patrol cars pulled into her driveway with lights flashing about 9:30 a.m. "They said, 'You've got to be evacuated because,' " she recalled, " 'he's threatening to blow up the neighborhood.' "

Sheriff's spokeswoman Deputy Wendy McGinniss said that the warrants being served Friday were for several alleged offenses: false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a firearm, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

The warrants apparently stem from an incident last month.

Kyersten Forster, 19, said she and a friend were going to meet Hensley at his home, but drove down the wrong driveway. When they turned their pickup around to pull back out, Forster said, Hensley was standing in the road with a pistol drawn.

Hensley, whom Forster had never met before, was angry, though she didn't know why. She said he was paranoid and claimed his house was being watched.

"He must have been on something," she said.

Hensley reached into the car and pulled the keys out, she explained. Her friend then stepped out of the car and Hensley attacked him.

"Andrew bashed him over the head with the gun," she said. "He was gushing blood everywhere."

At that point, Forster said, Hensley threatened to kill her friend. "He threatened to tie him to a tree, cut off his thigh and feed it to him until he died," she said. "He's psycho."

As her friend was taken into the house to clean his wound, Forster said, Hensley told her he would kill her if she left or called police.

Too afraid to phone 911, Forster said, she called a friend and begged for help. That person eventually contacted authorities, who Forster indicated arrived about an hour and a half after Hensley first stopped her and her friend.

Though they didn't make an arrest that night, Forster said deputies interviewed her last week about the incident and showed her a photo lineup. She identified Hensley as the man who threatened her.

Records show that Hensley was arrested in 2005 on charges including battery on a law enforcement officer, domestic violence and criminal mischief.

Martin Hopkins, 65, said that he has rented the guesthouse on his property to Hensley for two months. Because of the threat of explosives, Hopkins said, deputies Friday morning escorted him and his wife, Carol, 67, out of the main house.

Hopkins described Hensley as "paranoid'' and said he had seen him with a .38-caliber pistol.

There had been no problem with his renter until Friday, Hopkins said, but he acknowledged that Hensley had some personal issues.

"He's got a drinking problem," Hopkins said. "I know that."

"I've heard from him that he's had problems with people, and I can believe it. He's always talked to himself,'' said Hopkins, who met Hensley through a family member and rented him the house to help him get back on his feet.

"It's not that he's a bad guy, because he isn't,'' he said. "He's just messed up in the head.''

Staff writers Greg Hamilton and Melvin Backman contributed to this report. John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or jcox@sptimes.com.

Standoff with barricaded man in Brooksville ends peacefully 06/10/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 10, 2011 8:27pm]
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