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Pinellas deputies: After 8-hour standoff, man says he was shooting at rats

PALM HARBOR — After gunshots rang out about 3 a.m. Sunday, an eight-hour standoff with police ended peacefully, as deputies arrested a 51-year-old man who said he was only shooting at rats in his yard.

Neighbors called in reports of several shots in the middle of the night, according to a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office release. When deputies arrived, they heard more shots coming from a house on the 1500 block of Canopy Oaks Boulevard.

There, Stephen Jonas remained inside as deputies set up a perimeter and tried to contact him for eight hours, according to the agency.

Finally, about 11:20 a.m., Jonas walked outside and was arrested. No one else was in the home, and no one was injured, but investigators found a .223-caliber rifle, "many other weapons" and drugs inside, deputies reported. One of the rounds fired by Jonas hit another home to the south, but nobody was injured.

Deputies report the man claimed to be shooting at rats in his back yard.

Jonas faces a charge of shooting into an occupied dwelling and will be taken to county jail. The case is still under investigation.