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  1. Bizarre News

Fictitious gunfight draws real Pasco deputies

HUDSON — Just before 1 a.m. Tuesday, he woke to the sound of a heated argument, the shattering of glass, then gunshots in his living room.

Alan Benz, 62, grabbed his cell phone and pulled his revolver out of his nightstand.

He got on the floor behind his bed and dialed 911. Still grasping his gun, he waited for deputies to arrive while the sounds of destruction and assault rifles rattled on.

"Trash the whole place!" one man yelled.

Benz feared the worst.

Moments later, a team of deputies arrived and surrounded his Beacon Woods home on Wildflower Row. Deputies ordered Benz to put the gun down and step away. He did. They secured every room and found nothing.

The gun battle was on Benz's TV.

Earlier that night, Benz had been watching a whale documentary, he thinks on the Discovery or History Channel. He left the living room TV on when he went to sleep in his bedroom.

He said he didn't know what program came on afterward. But it was much louder and sounded real on his surround-sound system.

"I've never been so scared," he told the Tampa Bay Times.

Standing in the doorway of his home Thursday afternoon, Benz said he thinks he handled the situation in the best way.

"I wasn't no hero," he said. "I wasn't just going to go out there and start shooting."

But he feels bad about calling the deputies out on a false alarm, especially knowing how the deputies must have felt, believing they were responding to a home being trashed by gunmen. He sent an email later Tuesday morning to the sheriff's website commending the deputies for their performance.

"I would like to compliment each deputy on their professional manner, and they worked great as a team clearing my house," Benz wrote.

He noted the deputies could've had a good chuckle at his expense, but they didn't. They secured his home, handed Benz his gun and left.

Alex Orlando can be reached at aorlando@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6247.

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