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Bullets fired in fear at door bring charge

When police were called to 5853 Sunglo Ave. earlier this month, Sherry Koch described how frightened she was during an armed robbery. Four men forced their way in, she said, stole $400 and beat her 59-year-old friend, David Johnson, with a tire iron.

Koch feared trouble might return to the small duplex. They had a hammer, a can of wasp killer, a ceramic ball attached to a rope and a .380-caliber handgun on hand just in case.

"After a while," 51-year-old Koch said Wednesday afternoon, "you feel like you've got to fight back."

Earlier Wednesday, just before 2 a.m., someone started hammering on the front door. Within moments, a bullet fired from within the house ripped through the door and into David Calo's chest.

Calo, 25, of Shady Drive in Hudson died in the street, and Port Richey police arrested Johnson on a charge of manslaughter. He was being held Wednesday afternoon at county jail in lieu of $15,000 bail.

"The defendant did fire his handgun through the door without lawful justification and without concern for the safety of anyone outside or on the street," an arrest report said.

But Johnson's roommate and others inside the apartment at the time said they were terrified and thought they heard gunshots, a noise that apparently was someone trying to break down the front door.

"He was just trying to protect us," Koch said of Johnson to the Times. "It was self-defense." She then rose from the couch and opened the front door, exposing the splintered door frame.

Lt. Bill Sager said the Jan. 6 armed robbery and Wednesday's shooting could be related. The investigation is ongoing. Police said a man who accompanied Calo to the duplex Wednesday morning told police they went there to collect a debt. Details were not released.

Koch said she recently had repaid a loan but did not owe anyone else, nor did Johnson. She said she did not know Calo. State records show Calo has a lengthy criminal history, including convictions for burglary, cocaine possession and grand theft motor vehicle.

Johnson did not have an arrest record in Florida, records show. Koch, however, has faced charges including burglary, cocaine and marijuana possession, and larceny, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

About two hours before the shooting, Koch said, a couple of men came to a back window at the home and knocked. She could not tell who they were, saying the men wore hooded sweat shirts and soon left.

Koch and two female friends were watching television when the second disturbance began. To them, the sound at the door sounded like gunshots.

"Get down," Koch said she yelled to her friends. They got to the floor and crawled toward a dining table topped with pieces of a unicorn jigsaw puzzle.

"I was just freaking," recalled Laurie Kay, 42, nervously puffing a cigarette.

Johnson, whom Koch described as in poor health and disabled, was in his room working on a word search game. He came out and yelled, "Get away from the door," Koch recalled.

Then Johnson fired a shot through the door, police said.

The women said Johnson went back into his room, not knowing someone had been shot.

One of them called 911. A dispatcher informed her a man was lying in the street.