1. Archive

Shotgun slug greets two bail bondsmen

They knew they could be headed for trouble as they stepped past the old cars and rusting lawn mowers.

The two bail bond agents from Hillsborough County were at a home on Merrill Street in the middle of the night to pick up a man who had skipped his court date.

"This area in Moon Lake is a rough area," Gerald Lambert said later. "We know it very well. We've done a lot of work in there. . . ."

Lambert and his associate, Robert Mittlieder, got even more trouble than they expected: a shotgun blast through the home's front door. It sailed between them and sent door fragments into Lambert's leg.

Now the man they were there to pick up, Mark Hansen, 30, faces two counts of attempted murder.

Hansen's original offense was much less consequential. He had failed to appear in court on a charge of falsely pulling a fire alarm. His bond had been $3,000.

The bondsmen came after him Tuesday night on behalf of Clearwater Bonding, a sister agency of the one they work for. They found Hansen in his yard, Lambert said, but when he saw them he hurried into his home, a small wooden shack.

They pounded on the door and announced themselves again and again, Lambert said, "asking him not to make us kick the door in because we were going to come in."

They got no response, so they called the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and requested backup. After a deputy stationed himself behind the shack, Lambert and Mittlieder began kicking the door in.

They kicked twice and figured a third kick would send the door swinging open. But then, Lambert said, "a shotgun round, a slug shot, came flying through the door."

The bondsmen took cover against the side of the shack. The deputy found cover in a creek embankment nearby.

"Mark, this is stupid. This isn't worth it," they yelled. No response.

Several hours later, it was the sheriff's SWAT team that finally dislodged him. They tried unsuccessfully to coax Hansen out by reasoning with him over a megaphone. Then they filled his shack with tear gas, and he "exited the front door of the residence under his own will," a Sheriff's Office report said.

Once arrested, Hansen told deputies that he had taken two kinds of prescription antidepressants before falling asleep on a futon inside the shack. He said he thought the bondsmen were burglars.

Hansen said he keeps a loaded shotgun in his residence to protect his dog, Copper, from other dogs in the neighborhood. After firing the shot, Hansen said, he pushed a shelf against the door and went back to sleep, only to be woken up by the smell of tear gas.

Hansen was being held in the county jail Wednesday in lieu of $303,000 bail. His criminal record in Florida includes a charge of dumping raw human waste exceeding 500 pounds.