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Hillsborough man, while thwarting home robbery, shoots two teens, killing one: deputies

The man had a legally obtained gun.

Two teenagers attempting a home robbery in Hillsborough County were shot by a resident equipped with a legal firearm Saturday evening.

One of the teenagers died. The other is in critical condition, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

At around 7:30 p.m., deputies responded to a call at the Seasons at Westchase apartment complex in the 12000 block of Citrus Falls Circle.

An apartment complex in western Hillsborough County where an attempted home robbery led to two teens being shot on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. One of the teens died.
An apartment complex in western Hillsborough County where an attempted home robbery led to two teens being shot on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. One of the teens died. [ Kavitha Surana ]

A man and his fiancé told deputies that two young men broke through the screen on their back patio and entered the home through an unlocked door, a news release said.

One of the intruders, who held a gun, “made demands” to the man and his fiancé, the release said. The male resident grabbed his own gun and shot at the alleged intruders. He hit both, and killed one, said Sheriff’s Office Major Frank Losat. The man and his fiancé were not hurt.

When authorities responded to the scene, they found two other teenagers in a car nearby. They stopped the car, and concluded that the two young men were also likely involved in the attempted robbery, the release said.

All four suspects, ages 16 and 17, are students at Gaither High School, the sheriff’s office said.

As of Sunday evening, the sheriff’s office had not named any of the teens, and had not announced any charges.

A day after the shooting, residents at the apartment complex remained uneasy.

Naveen Kumar, 34, originally from Bangalore, India, lives in the building next door to where the altercation took place. In the 4 1/2 years he’s lived at Seasons, he said he has never experienced anything like Saturday night.

He was shocked to hear about the shootings and said he felt nervous for his kids, ages two and seven.

“I come from India where I have seen things happen like this,” Kumar said. “We never expected something like this would happen here.”

But he still plans to stay.

Some of his neighbors were more rattled by the incident. One said he’s considering moving. Another, Kasey Ryan, 29, who lives in the building next door, said it is a “nice neighborhood.” Although visitors to the apartments enter through a gate, it’s a system that’s easily circumvented, Ryan said.

Deputies don’t think the incident was random.

“This couple that lived in that apartment were targeted, for unknown reasons at this point,” Losat said at the briefing.

Providence Management Company, which oversees Seasons at Westchase, encouraged residents to remain calm and said that an active law enforcement officer resides on-site and serves as a courtesy officer for the complex.

Roger Futerman, a local defense attorney and legal expert, said the intruder who was not killed could face a murder charge. Under Florida law, a suspect can be charged with second-degree murder if another person — including his accomplice — is killed while committing a serious felony like robbery or home invasion.

But Futerman said prosecutors are unlikely to pursue a murder charge in this case. For one thing, the young suspect faces other charges that could lead to a long prison sentence. For another, winning a murder conviction in this case would require a prosecutor convincing a jury that a slain home invader was a victim.

“It’s a difficult case for a jury to swallow,” Futerman said.

Deadly Shooting investigation at apartment complex on Citrus Falls Circle

Posted by Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on Saturday, January 4, 2020