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Land O'Lakes resident accused of shooting unarmed man

LAND O'LAKES — Gregory A. Stewart II heard something at his door on Golden Eagle Drive early Saturday. It turned out to be a confused stranger whom Stewart told to leave, authorities said.

The man left but returned around 5 a.m.

This time Stewart went to his front lawn, argued and shot the unarmed man in the chest, Pasco County sheriff's deputies said.

The unidentified man survived and was flown to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Stewart, 32, of 3239 Golden Eagle Drive was arrested on a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He was released from the Land O'Lakes jail Saturday afternoon on $20,000 bail.

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

Doll said Stewart and the man never struggled. Only words were exchanged, until Stewart shot him with a handgun.

This kind of thing doesn't usually happen at Stagecoach Village. Most neighbors know each other. They feel safe walking at night. The homes are well maintained, the lawns plush, the mailboxes white. Many homeowners are couples with children. They say the worst crime they usually have involves petty vandalism by teenagers.

No one answered at the Stewart home Saturday afternoon, and phone calls weren't returned. Records show Stewart was born in Tampa and this is his first arrest in Florida. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement lists Stewart's job as "tech support."

Debi Bross, who lives across the street from Stewart and was awakened by the flashing lights of patrol cars, said Stewart is married and has young children. She said the Stewarts have lived there for at least five years and keep to themselves.

She said she's surprised about the whole situation — that a stranger was walking in the neighborhood and that Stewart shot him. She will be more cautious when walking at night.

"But I'm not going to let it completely change my life," Bross said.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Land O'Lakes resident accused of shooting unarmed man 08/01/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 1, 2009 8:40pm]
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