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FDLE investigating officer-involved shooting in Hernando County

Hernando County officer involved shooting May 31, 2022
Posted at 5:48 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 10:21:09-04

SPRING HILL, Fla. — A man is dead after an officer-involved shooting in Hernando County Tuesday afternoon. Deputies from both the Hernando County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) and the Pasco County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) were involved after the suspect allegedly fired multiple rounds from a handgun.

A joint press conference was held by Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis and Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco to provide an update on the situation.

According to Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis, the suspect and multiple accomplices are believed to be connected to a home invasion that took place early Tuesday morning.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said an 89-year-old man in Hudson was tied up as the suspect and accomplices stole multiple items from the home.

"The vast, vast, vast majority of a home invasion robbery they know who they're going after," Nocco said. "It's usually a house where they have a relationship with somebody, they know there's something of value in that house and that's why that house is targeted."

The man's car was also stolen and subsequently set on fire on Dandelion Street. Luis Muniz lives nearby and said it's not a sight he expected Tuesday morning.

"I saw this morning when I was coming out to feed my chickens," Muniz said. "So, I hear a horn so I looked, I went in the front and looked like this and saw the car, then I saw the driver's side on fire."

PCSO detectives found some of the stolen items in possession of the accomplices at a gas station on County Line Road. Nienhuis said one of the individuals had burn marks.

FDLE investigating officer-involved shooting in Hernando County

While detectives were investigating the car arson, HCSO detectives responded to reports of a man breaking into a home near Hollyhock Lane in Spring Hill. At the scene, detectives discovered the suspect inside the garage of the home and they called for backup.

Donna Villano lives next door and said her neighbor is shaken up, but thankfully, not injured.

"It was her birthday and she was taking the kids to the pool and he came through the garage door," she said. "He said, 'I want money.' So, her husband took it out of his pocket and said 'Here's the money, go!' She ran with the grandbabies in the bathroom, covered them and he ran in the bathroom with her and he was shooting. I don't know if he was shooting at the cops, but he was shooting out the bathroom window."

Nienhuis said the suspect in the garage fired multiple shots at the deputies. Nocco said responding deputies did not exchange gunfire with the suspect at this point.

"All the rounds were coming out [of the garage]," Nocco said.

Detectives said the suspect then left the garage and ran from law enforcement on Davenport Lane. That's when deputies fired multiple shots and at least one hit the man. Nienhuis said the suspect was taken into custody and transported to the hospital where he later died.

The identity of the suspect has not been released, but Sheriff Nocco said the man had a history of violent crime.

FDLE is investigating the shooting. The deputies involved, one from PCSO and three from HCSO, have been placed on administrative leave.

"It's sad there's any loss of life... he started shooting at us, they had to defend themselves and that's what they did," Nocco said. "His actions dictated our actions."

The accomplices from the home invasion were taken into custody for questioning. Nocco said one of the suspects is connected to a Spring Hill animal abuse investigation where a dog was shot 170 times with a BB gun.

PCSO said on Wednesday morning that two female suspects were also arrested related to the case. Bridgette Harvey, 42, and Jamie Kujawa, 38 were arrested in connection with the home invasion robbery.