Armed Criminals Targeting Hernando, Sheriff Says “You are Playing with Fire”
HERNANDO – Violent criminals have targeted Hernando County residents and businesses in recent weeks and Sheriff Al Nienhuis says he’s got a message for those who arm themselves and threaten the community.
During an interview with reporters yesterday, Nienhuis reviewed several recent incidents where suspects were armed, and in some cases fired shots at citizens and law enforcement officers.
Nienhuis focused on eight incidents dating back to November of last year, where at least three Hernando County Sheriff’s Deputies were the target of various crimes.
The first occurred on November 25th, 2016 at the residence of a HCSO Lieutenant, where several juveniles attempted to break into his car on Hernando Beach. Once the thieves realized who they were about to victimize, they quickly fled the area.
In a second incident a firearm was stolen from a vehicle at a residence on Cori Loop in Spring Hill.
Another incident made headlines on January 4th after several masked burglars stormed the Target Department Store on Commercial Way and stole several valuable electronics. That incident resulted in a high-speed pursuit through Hernando County and into Orange County, where it finally came to an end. None of the suspects involved were captured (Click for Original RNRF Report).
An attempted armed burglary of Shadow Hawk Inc. Gun Store on Beverly Court has Nienhuis “especially concerned,” after video surveillance showed three armed suspects casing the store, but left before breaking in. Nienhuis says one of the suspects pointed his firearm at the camera and it was found to be fitted with laser sights.
Last week RNRF responded to the area of Twigg Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd after reports that a Deputy had been shot at during a pursuit (Click for Original RNRF Report). The Deputy’s patrol car was struck but thanks to equipment inside the trunk the bullet was stopped. Nienhuis says it appears by the trajectory that the shooter was aiming for the driver. The investigation continues.
A Detention Deputy was the target of an armed vehicle burglary early Thursday morning in Spring Hill, after a lone-burglar shot the window out of his SUV and stole his firearm.
The very next day and around the same time in the morning, at least two suspects were caught burglarizing a vehicle on Danforth Road but fled when the resident confronted them. As they were fleeing, one of the suspects fired several shots at the victim (Click for Original RNRF Report).
Nienhuis believes most of these crimes are organized and from suspects who live outside of Hernando County. “Unfortunately we have intel that the group is fairly large so arresting one car full of people is not likely going to stop it,” Says Nienhuis.
Nienhuis fears that with criminals arming themselves, a serious incident involving injury or death is inevitable. Regarding the incident on Danforth Road, Nienhuis says “That individual needs to understand that they are playing with fire, and if they confront one of my deputies, and they’re armed, they better do exactly what the deputy says because bad things will happen.” He goes on to say “The fact that most of these criminal are 14, 15, and 16 years of age is immaterial… But I’m really scared to death that one of my deputies is going to have to take the life of a juvenile.”
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