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Burglary victim accused of assault

A Dade City man crossed the legal line when he pulled a gun and shot at a 16-year-old whom he caught burglarizing his home, police say. Both of them are in custody.

By MOLLY MOORHEAD
Published July 7, 2006


DADE CITY - Manuel Molina was first a crime victim, then a criminal, police say.

About 5 p.m. Wednesday, Molina caught a burglar inside his home on N 15th Street, according to his arrest report. He struggled with the burglar, a 16-year-old, who eventually broke free and ran.

Molina gave chase in his white pickup, and police were called.

Up to then, police say, Molina was within the bounds of the law.

Chasing a burglar is "not recommended, but he didn't break any laws at that point," said Dade City Police Capt. David Duff.

But then the 32-year-old man climbed out of his truck, pulled out a semiautomatic gun and began firing, police say.

That's where he crossed the line, Duff said.

"There was no threat," he said. "The kid was running away and he was firing at him."

Molina put others in danger too - neighbors who were in their yards watching the scene unfold.

Several of them told police that Molina caught up to the teen on State Street and walked him back to his truck at gunpoint. The teen asked Molina several times if he was a police officer. Molina said he was, but showed no badge, the report says.

Officers arrived to find Molina with his gun pointed at the teen's head, trying to force him into the truck, police said. They repeatedly ordered Molina to put his gun down before he laid it on the ground.

Molina was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm, kidnapping and falsely impersonating an officer. He remained in the Pasco County jail in Land O'Lakes on Thursday in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Michael Vaughns of Dade City was arrested and charged with residential burglary and attempted grand theft, both felonies. He was taken to a juvenile detention facility Wednesday night.

Duff said he doesn't think Vaughns was armed. He was not injured. Some of Molina's possessions were found on Vaughns, and Duff said there was evidence at Molina's house that Vaughns had gathered up some other items to take.