Deputies are looking for a suspect who followed a woman into her home and then was violent, authorities said.
The home invasion happened around 6:40 a.m. Thursday at the Leisure Lakes Mobile Home Park in Palmetto. The victim, a woman in her 70s, was taking out the trash when she had an unwanted visitor.
Bruce Klefeker was awake when he saw a man follow his friend into her home. He thought the unknown man was someone she and her husband knew, so he did not question it.
“She was going inside and then about 30 seconds later, there was a guy following behind her,” Klefeker said.
Once the suspect was inside the home, Manatee County Sheriff’s deputies said the suspect threatened the woman and demanded money. According to investigators, the suspect told the victim he had a gun, but it is unclear whether he had a weapon on him.
Dave Bristow, Public Information Director with the sheriff’s office, said the woman’s husband heard the suspect and got into a physical fight with him; it continued outside the home.
“Her husband defended her, and next thing I know, she was running just a short distance from her driveway out to the street and just yelling, 'Help, help, help!” Klefeker said.
Klefeker said he called 911.
“I was really upset that it happened in this park,” Klefeker said.
Bristow said the suspect ran away and it is believed he got into a car. Authorities released a picture of the second suspect, who is believed to be the driver of the getaway car. Bristow said neighbors saw the second suspect in the neighborhood before the home invasion. Bristow said the suspects worked as a team.
“This is the last thing you would think would happen to you ... as you’re taking your garbage out in the morning,” Bristow said.
Bristow said the couple is doing okay.
“This is very traumatic, obviously, for someone to go through. You’re talking about somebody in retirement -- 76 and 78 years old,” Bristow said.
One neighbor said she was not too surprised when she learned the husband fought back.
“I can’t believe, well yeah, I can... You know, we come from that generation where you don’t take nothing from nobody,” Mary Bender said.
Authorities said the suspect, accused of committing the home invasion, stole some items from the couple’s car, including some cash.
If you have any information about the suspects, contact the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 941-747-3011. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-966-634-TIPS.