Two Sheriff's Office deputies fired at, but missed, a 17-year-old unarmed burglary suspect early Monday morning, saying that his actions had caused them to fear for their lives. The teen-ager was captured on Forest Oaks Boulevard, west of Deltona Boulevard, just after the two shots were fired, according to a Hernando County Sheriff's Office news release. The deputies had been staking out stores in the area because of a recent rash of burglaries.
After he was apprehended and arrested, the youth "admitted to about 20 burglaries, and he will be charged with them," said Sgt. Frank Bierwiler, Sheriff's Office spokesman.
The youth, who is not being named because he was charged as a juvenile, is believed to have committed burglaries in the last two weeks in two areas of Spring Hill: the stores near where he was caught and at Colonial Plaza, 4090 Commercial Way, Bierwiler said.
The Sheriff's Office will investigate the actions of the two officers, Sgt. Danny Hart and Deputy David Beall, who fired the shots, said Sgt. Larry York, who handles internal investigations for the sheriff. Anytime a deputy fires a gun, it is investigated, York said.
The two will remain on duty because it appears that the use of deadly force was justified, and because the youth was not harmed, York said.
Both law and policy state that the use of deadly force is justified if deputies believe that a person is endangering their own lives or the lives of other people.
The youth's mother said she had no comment on the shooting.
Though the boy was not armed, he did have a black glove on one hand that, in the darkness, made it appear that he might be armed, Bierwiler said. "... The deputies had a split-second to make a decision. ... They did everything that they were trained to do."
The youth also had refused to stop after being asked several times, according to the Sheriff's Office reports on the incident.
The report gave the following account:
Because of the spate of burglaries, about a half-dozen deputies were staking out businesses in the area. One deputy, who was on a roof of a nearby building, saw a youth arrive on a bicycle and park near the Panda restaurant at 3480 Deltona Blvd.
There was banging behind the restaurant, and later investigation revealed damage to doors at both the Panda and at McSweeny Barber Shop, 3496 Deltona Blvd., indicating that the businesses' doors had been tampered with.
The deputy on the roof called the other deputies to make the arrest. Hart wrote in his report that he heard several deputies say, "Freeze, police," and then another person yell out, "He's running."
The teen dashed across Deltona Boulevard, and went west on Forest Oaks, followed by Hart, Beall and several other deputies. Near Bob Hartung Court, the suspect suddenly turned, in what the deputies said was an aggressive manner.
Hart fired first, he wrote.
Beall, who said he was about seven yards away from the suspect, wrote that he "instinctively pulled out my (gun) ... and fired one round in the general area of the suspect."
Deputies tackled the youth, who continued to fight them.
He was charged with attempted burglary for allegedly trying to break into the barbershop, possession of burglary tools, resisting an officer with violence, and battery on a law enforcement officer.
Burglary tools were found near the youth's bicycle.
Bierwiler said the teen rode a bicycle to the buildings, carrying burglary tools and the loot in a rucksack that he wore on his back.
The teen-ager was being held Monday evening at a juvenile detention center in Ocala.