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Likely shot, intruder remains elusive
The man whose house was burglarized says next time he'll use a more powerful weapon.
By ERIN SULLIVAN, Times Staff Writer
Published October 19, 2007
ROYAL HIGHLANDS - Authorities are still searching for an intruder who broke into a house and was possibly shot by the homeowner as he fled, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
The man is described as being in his 20s, about 6 feet tall, white, with close-cropped dark hair. He wore baggy jeans and a white tank top.
Most likely, he is injured.
"I usually don't miss," said Mark Hartley, the homeowner who fired at the intruder Wednesday morning.
Hartley stopped by his house at the corner of Sorrell Street and Sunshine Grove Road that morning and saw an unfamiliar red pickup truck in his driveway. He grabbed a .22-caliber pistol from his vehicle and went to his back door, which was ajar. The intruder heard the door creak and flew at Hartley from the bedroom.
Hartley fired one shot and thought he got him in the abdomen, but it was "snake shot," or a bullet filled with tiny pellets to kill small animals.
"I think I perforated his intestines," he said.
The intruder ran out the door toward the truck - and the .38-caliber handgun on its seat - when Hartley fired again, this time with a real bullet. He thinks he hit the intruder in the leg. Hartley told the Hernando Times on Wednesday that he saw the man limping as he ran away.
Donna Black, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, said no charges were pending against Hartley for shooting the fleeing intruder. Assistant State Attorney Don Barbee said Florida law states that if people are in real fear for their lives, then deadly force can be used.
After the 911 call came in a few minutes before 11 a.m. Wednesday, swarms of deputies arrived at the Sunshine Grove Road home. They discovered that the intruder's truck and gun were both stolen.
The hunt for the intruder encompassed the southern portion of the Royal Highlands area. Nearly two dozen deputies, a helicopter and several scent-tracking canines were involved.
Hartley said Thursday that he has no regrets about shooting the intruder.
"I have no remorse," he said. "Next time, I won't use a .22.
"I'll use something much more powerful - and much more dangerous."