Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson has made it pretty clear where he stands on armed citizens protecting themselves and their loved ones: he’s all in favor. In fact, the sheriff used a recent defensive gun use in the county to not only applaud a homeowner who shot an intruder, but to encourage other residents to take advantage of a free gun safety class the sheriff’s department holds on a regular basis.
“I guess they think they did something wrong, which they did not. If someone’s breaking into your house, you’re more than welcome to shoot them in Santa Rosa County. We prefer that you do, actually. So, whoever that was, you’re not in trouble, come see us. We have a gun safety class we put on every other Saturday,” Johnson said.
… “If you take that, you’ll shoot a lot better, and hopefully you’ll save the taxpayers money,” Johnson said.
In this particular incident, Johnson says a “frequent flyer” (i.e., a repeat offender) named Brandon J. Harris was taken into custody last week after trying to break into multiple homes before he was finally greeted by a homeowner armed with a gun who fired several shots at the suspect.
“Probably 20 deputies get there, the dogs are out, and he’s jumping fences and breaking into houses as he goes,” Johnson said. “One of the homeowners, he was breaking into their house, and they shot at him. So he continues to run, we finally corner him in a house that he broke into on Tom Sawyer and we cornered him in a bedroom.”
According to the sheriff, Harris has an extensive history with law enforcement in the county.
“You hear me talk about frequent flyers all the time. Our first interaction with this individual came when he was 13 years old. Since then, he’s had like 17 arrests,” Johnson said. “We sent him to prison for six and a half years for home invasion, and he just can’t seem to get the picture of crime does not pay.”
It sounds like Harris has had plenty of opportunities to turn his life around, but for whatever reason he’s chosen to live his life outside the law. In fact, local media reports that at the time Harris was arrested last week, he was already facing charges of aggravated assault, battery, and probation violations. Now the 32-year old is facing additional charges of attempted burglary with assault, burglary of an occupied dwelling, criminal mischief, attempted larceny, resisting arrest without violence, and burglary of an unoccupied dwelling.
I’d like to think the 18th time will be the charm here, but chances are that Harris is going to once again be offered a plea deal to reduced charges and a lighter sentence, and could very well be back on the streets (or inside strangers’ houses) in just a couple of years. And even if Harris is sent away for decades, he’s not the only violent offender out there. Sheriff Johnson is spot on in encouraging his constituents to think long and hard about their own safety, as well as their right to defend themselves with a gun.