Florida man tells deputies he was shooting at rats in his backyard after 8-hour standoff

PALM HARBOR, Fla. - An 8-hour standoff in Palm Harbor ended with a suspect telling police he was shooting at rats in his backyard, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. 

Deputies responded to a call in the area of County Road 1 and Curlew Road in Palm Harbor at approximately 3 a.m. on Sunday after multiple neighbors reported they heard several gun shots in the area. Deputies arrived on scene and heard about five gunshots, which they said sounded to possibly be from a rifle. The gun shots were coming from a residence on Canopy Oaks Boulevard. 

The suspect was identified as Stephen Jonas, 51, of Palm Harbor. 

Deputies set up a perimeter and attempted to make contact with Jonas for approximately 8 hours. At 11:22 a.m., Jonas finally walked out of his house and he was taken into custody without incident. 

Inside of the home, deputies found a .223 rifle and many other weapons. They also observed drugs in the home. 

A home nearby was struck with one of the rounds. No one was injured. 

When deputies arrested Jonas, he told them he was shooting at rats in his backyard. 

Jonas was charged with one count of shooting into an occupied dwelling, possession of marijuana and possession of alrpazolam. He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail and later released on $27,000 bond. 

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