A 61-year-old disabled veteran was forced to fight for his life last week as four men armed with guns invaded his secluded home in north-central Florida.
Police say the man was found with a gunshot wound to his stomach and an AR-15 across his legs. One of the intruders had already died, another would die at the hospital later that day, and two more were arrested shortly after the incident. The homeowner was taken to the hospital and is in stable condition, according to local media reports.
One of the homeowner’s neighbors, June Samuels, told WCJB that the attack could have been premeditated days before the incident.
“I told the police before that on the weekend I saw a car, a newer car, Volkswagen car that they had reversed into a lot that’s empty next door. I saw it for two days and my neighbors said they saw it prior to that so this was not just a random act on their part,” Samuels said.
According to the police report, detectives did find a black Volkswagen parked near the residences and registered to one of the intruders.
“And the point is that what happened could happen anywhere, is what I want to stress. There’s nothing wrong with the neighborhood, it’s the people who came from another neighborhood,” Samuels said.
SEE ALSO: Which Gun is Best for Home Defense? Handgun, Shotgun, & AR-15 All Work, but the AR-15 Might Be Your Best Choice
The intruders were identified as 21-year-old Keith Jackson Jr., 22-year-old Nigel Doyle, 22-year-old Seth Adam Rodriguez, and 19-year-old Robert John Hamilton.
Police found Jackson dead in the dining room, wearing gloves and a Jason mask, and lying beside a handgun with the slide locked to the rear, according to Village News. Doyle was found lying outside the home beside a pump-action shotgun. He was transported to a local hospital but died later that day.
Deputy Austin Coon and K-9 Deputy Alberto Gago, with his dog Nitro, found Rodriguez and Hamilton less than a mile away, according to arrest reports obtained by OCALA. Rodriguez was hiding in tall grass on the side of the road.
Rodriguez claims Doyle and Jackson had planned to rob the home for guns and marijuana. He also told police that Hamilton kicked down the front door while Jackson and Doyle rushed inside, according to OCALA. Hamilton denies the claim, telling police he got out of the car before the robbery and walked down the street.
Rodriguez was arrested on charges of murder and home invasion robbery with a firearm. Hamilton faces home invasion robbery with a firearm.
The homeowner told police that about an hour before the incident he discovered a man knocking on his front door and peering into his windows. He said he vaguely recognized the man from a previous Craigslist transaction. The man claimed he needed help with his car, but the homeowner said he was disabled and asked the man to go away.
The homeowner went to bed but was awakened by a loud noise. He grabbed the AR-15 he keeps beside his bed and shot at two individuals, one of whom was wearing a mask and pointing a gun at him.
The homeowner lives on a 20-acre lot with a gate about 300 yards away from the home.
Valeria Strong, a Public Information Officer with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, encouraged residents to be careful about online transactions and never meet at home.
“When you do anything online, it’s very important to be vigilant on the people you are doing transactions with and we recommend doing it in a public space to make sure no one knows where your home is,” she said.