Four words can sum up a warning Haines City police Chief Greg Goreck offered would-be burglars last week: Fool around, find out.
A Haines City resident returned home with his girlfriend and their puppy around 1:45 a.m. Friday morning and discovered two strangers in his kitchen.
Not knowing the men or their intentions, the unidentified homeowner pulled his Glock 9mm and opened fire at the burglar closest to him.
The homeowner, who has a concealed weapons permit, fired five shots and then fled the scene. He called 911 en route to the Haines City Police Department and was stopped by officers. As one cop remained with him, others searched the home and the surrounding area.
Police eventually found 27-year-old Tyriek Tramaine Washington in a nearby park. He had four bullet wounds, including two in the chest, in addition to the property that belonged to the homeowner.
He was flown to Osceola Regional Medical Center after officers rendered aid. He was listed in critical but stable condition.
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The homeowner cooperated with police and was not charged.
In a subsequent press briefing on Friday, Chief Goreck said it was clearly a case of “stand your ground.”
Goreck also offered a warning to crooks like Washington.
“One should expect that if you are brazen enough to enter into someone’s residence and it is not yours, with intent to commit an unlawful act, there may be repercussions,” Goreck said.
“We live in Florida, and more so, we live in Polk County, and most people are armed,” he said. “It’s probably a logical conclusion that if you break into somebody’s house, you might end up getting shot by the homeowner.”
The NRA, in circulating the story on its Twitter feed, noted, “To paraphrase the chief … Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”
Goreck’s message is a common one in Florida.
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For example, in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Ian last September, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis told would-be looters, “In the state of Florida, you never know what may be lurking behind somebody’s home, and I would not want to chance that if I were you, given that we’re a Second Amendment state.”
Shortly thereafter, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, another Republican, had advice for homeowners after there were reports of homes being looted in Southwest Florida.
“I would highly suggest that if a looter breaks into your home, comes into your home while you’re there to steal stuff that you take your gun and you shoot him,” Judd told Fox News. “You shoot him so he looks like grated cheese.”
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