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Two face charges in Zephyrhills home invasion, rape

ZEPHYRHILLS — A home invasion that resulted in the shooting of a man also involved the rape of a woman, authorities say, with both suspects behind bars.

Eric Vliet, 22, of 5643 18th St. faces charges of armed home invasion robbery, sexual battery and grand theft auto, according to jail records.

The victims told deputies that two men broke into the home shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday and ordered the woman into the bathroom. Vliet was armed with a flare gun while the other man wielded a BB gun, the report said.

Vliet then sexually assaulted the woman, age 50, while the other man shot the male victim, 63, once in the head in the living room with the BB gun, the report said. The pellet is lodged in his skull, authorities said.

The pair tied up the man and woman's hands and left them lying on a bed, threatening to harm the woman and her parents if she called police, the report said. They then took her purse and keys and drove off in her vehicle.

Zephyrhills police arrested Vliet on Tuesday night on a disorderly conduct charge at his stepfather's home after he was reported to be drunk and "out of control," picking fights and threatening to kill everyone in the house, a report said. Police said Vliet smelled of alcohol, and they found beer cans scattered across the back yard. Vliet, who had bloody knuckles on both hands, told police they were from punching a tree, but witnesses said they came from punching doors and ripping one off the hinges, the report said.

The home invasion victims later identified Vliet through photos as one of the two attackers. He remained in the county jail in Land O'Lakes on Wednesday in lieu of $105,000 bail. On Wednesday, deputies arrested his alleged partner in crime, 17-year-old Bryan Wesolowski of Zephyrhills. He was taken to the juvenile assessment center and faces charges of home invasion, aggravated battery and grand theft, sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin said.

The man injured by the BB gun was treated at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. Medical personnel performed a rape exam on the woman, who was not hospitalized.

No new information was released on the motive, but authorities said Tuesday the incident might have been drug-related.

Two face charges in Zephyrhills home invasion, rape 04/14/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 9:39pm]

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