Mental illness takes a toll on individuals, families, communities and society as a whole.
A Valrico man who is battling his personal demons is also battling his neighbors, and they say enough is enough.
“Here he comes, honey and I’m scared of him,” Johnnie Esslinger said, as she watched her neighbor Allan walk out of his front door and begin roaming through the neighborhood.
“He walks all these streets terrorizing. He says he owns this neighborhood,” Esslinger said.
She's not the only one worried.
“It's scary. It's literally scary, because you don't know what's gonna happen with him,” said neighbor Kassidy Ryals, who has a small child.
“The gentleman will chase me down the street, yelling vulgarities, he's very aggressive,” said Bobby Lipford, who once reported Allan to authorities after Allan allegedly beat dents into the hood of his car with his bare hands.
“He is, I believe, beyond help,” said Ivelisse Quiles, who said Allan chased her into her home while she had an infant in her arms.
Her young son witnessed it all, and is now deeply afraid of Allan.
“He has started to have nightmares constantly about the man breaking into the home, hurting us,” Quiles said. “So I find bats under his pillows. I find toy guns under his pillows. He started to go to counseling over this.”
“I shredded a man. Skin was coming off his skull. Je required 500 stitches and plastic surgery,” Allan volunteered, when we asked him about the problems with his neighbors.
Allan has called 9-1-1 dozens of times...reporting being stalked by his mortgage broker, witnessing mass murders, rambling about the Russian mafia and even telling a dispatcher "enjoy your casket, rest in peace".
“I was going to bury his skull on his front lawn,” Allan elaborated, describing a prior argument.
Neighbors claim Allan curses at children, peeps in windows and charges at them in their own yards.
“He's come out with knives and threatened some of the children. Tells them that he's gonna cut them up and throw their body parts in Key West,” said Quiles. “That's what’s very upsetting about it. He's obviously thinking about these things, making plans about these things.”
“I pay taxes, I pay a mortgage, I pay house insurance, I shouldn't have to live like this,” said Esslinger, who has called 9-1-1 on Allan multiple times.
Esslinger circulated a petition and got more than 40 signatures from neighbors, asking law enforcement for help.
After circulating these petitions, neighbors say they took them straight to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. That was in April of last year.
“This is just a fine and classic example that you're bringing to the forefront of what we deal with on an everyday basis,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Larry McKinnon.
McKinnon says he wishes deputies could do more.
“Law enforcement has a very limited amount of power to involuntarily commit somebody, but it's got to be based on emergency issues, such as life-threatening, either themselves or the public,” he said.
A Baker Act report obtained by the I-Teams says Allan repeatedly called his VA counselor for help, after not taking his psycho-tropic medications.
“I try to get to my doctor. I'm blocked every time I try. Like, I hope she's living,” said Allan.
Allan is a Vietnam-era disabled veteran.
“What am I supposed to do, man? Nothing. I stay inside,” Allan said, but admitted he would like more help from the VA.
“Anything, just to get it together man,” he said.
“I think they should be sending somebody out here to check on him and following up with him. and I don't think that's happening,” said Ryals.
We reached out to the sheriff's office and the VA, who took Allan back to the V-A hospital.
“Let's put him in a long term mental health facility, as opposed to patching him up and giving him some meds and then putting him back out on the street,” said McKinnon of the Sheriff’s Office.
Esslinger says her neighborhood is finally peaceful...But fears it won't last long.
“Something's got to give. It's been 13 months since I did this petition, and I'm still living in the same terror,” she said.
Allan is also being investigated for code violations.
When deputies last responded to his home, they discovered that it was damaged by a recent fire.
No word as to whether he will be allowed back in the home after he’s released from the hospital.
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