A Bad Shoot—30 Rounds, 90 Seconds, Zero Hits, and Poor Judgement

In this story from Florida, once again we see the importance of identifying what we shoot at. It all went down around 9 PM on June 22, at a home in Pinellas County, Florida.

A pool maintenance worker arrived at the home to work on the pool like he had done before. He arrived later than expected and while it was dark out. The worker didn't notify the homeowner and went directly to the backyard pool and began working.

man shot by mistake

This pool maintenance worker is fortunate to be alive. Screen Grab: Inside Edition

Florida Man Shoots at Pool Worker—

According to ABC 7 News, the female resident heard noises coming from the backyard, and observed an unknown male. She was unaware that the person in the backyard was the pool worker, and notified her husband, who was also home. She called 911 while her husband retrieved an AR15 rifle from the bedroom.

The husband said he saw the light from a flashlight the person was carrying come close to the door, and believed the person was trying to break into the home. In response, he fired 2 rounds through a glass sliding door toward the maintenance worker. Neither one struck the worker, however, news reports said shrapnel struck him, causing minor injuries.

Screen Grab: Inside Edition

The worker fled when the homeowner fired the initial two rounds. The homeowner followed up the first two shots, with 28 more in the general direction. None of those struck the worker or anyone else, thank God.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's department conducted their investigation and decided not to charge the homeowner. In a press conference, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said,

“It's one of those things that I would call lawful, but awful. I mean, it's lawful, but it's just an awful set of circumstances.”

I've included a video from Inside Edition that shows edited surveillance footage and 911 audio from the incident. While the video aligns mostly with the reported statements of the shooter, there is some slight inconsistency, especially with the statement that the man fired because he saw the flashlight coming toward the door.

The initial shots come after the worker, who is in fact holding a flashlight, turns and walks away from the door and back toward the pool.

So the man isn't facing charges because the Sheriff's Department determined the homeowner believed that the person in his backyard was attempting to break in, and, while factually wrong, his actions were objectively reasonable and lawful.

Important Lessons—

There are some basic takeaways that I think are important for anyone who has a firearm for personal or home protection to consider.

Foremost, just because police didn't charge the homeowner, it doesn't mean this is a “good shoot.” Even though the police didn't charge the homeowner, it doesn't mean they couldn't. After all, we've all seen people defend themselves and end up with criminal charges for clearly lawful behavior. And that's just part of it.

Imagine if any of the 30 rounds struck the worker and caused his death. If you were the homeowner, would not being charged with a crime make you feel better, knowing you killed an innocent guy?

Secondly, deadly force is justifiable in cases where there is no other option or another option is impractical. The homeowners were on the phone with 911, and inside the home behind a presumably locked door. The portions of the video don't show the worker ever try to open the door or peer inside the home. In fact, it shows him look in and wave to someone, and then turn around and begin working on the pool.

While lawful, the homeowner had other options available besides cranking off 30 rounds from his rifle. By taking up a position of cover inside the home, he could have waited until the unknown person actually did something that made it appear as though he was there to break in.

Screen Grab: Inside Edition

I'm sorry, you don't get to make bad decisions and then pass it off by saying “you don't know what you would do in that situation”. This is the whole reason we take the time to cover incidents like this, why we train and educate ourselves so we can make better decisions.

What is Your Home Defense Strategy?

A few years ago, we created a course called Complete Home Defense, which provides a wealth of information on home defense strategies that help you make wise decisions about how you defend your home.

Here are a few simple principles that would have helped.

Identifying a threat is much easier with light. Most homes have some sort of outdoor lighting. Why not flip a switch and turn on lights in the backyard? The homeowner would have immediately noticed that the dude was carrying pool cleaning equipment, or recognized him as a guy who had been to his home before. And if it was a bad guy, the light may have chased him off. If it didn't, you still have an AR rifle if he tries to break in.

Yelling out through the window or door is another option if you don't have exterior lighting, or even if you do. Yelling something like, “who are you? I'm on the phone with the police and I am armed with a rifle” should get someone's attention. If they are there for legit reasons, they are going to let you know. And if they are there for nefarious reasons, their response will let you know that too.

Screen Grab: Inside Edition

And please, make sure you don't shoot in the general area of someone and that every shot you fire has an appropriate sight picture attached to it. It may be a gross sight picture at an extremely close distance, or a more refined sight picture, but you need to aim the gun for each shot.

Again, the homeowner was so lucky that none of the rounds left his property and injured anyone. However, if they had, and wound up killing someone, how would he feel? How would you feel if it were you who fired the rounds? How about if you were a neighbor whose child was stuck and killed by one of the 30 rounds fired without aiming?

If you're a maintenance worker, please contact the homeowner before proceeding further onto the persons's property. I see this often with county or city workers that have to read meters or do something similar. A utility easement might give you access, for safety, contact the homeowner. Wearing a brightly colored vest is not enough to distinguish you from a bad guy.

In this incident, an apartment maintenance worker got shot and killed while working on a water heater outside the apartment.

S8E1 of the Concealed Carry Podcast

In Conclusion—

I don't know the homeowner, and this post isn't about his character or meant to disparage him as a person. But we need to make better decisions. One way is to learn from what people do well and what they do wrong. Then replicate things that work and stay away from the bad stuff.

Important Resources—

This incident illustrates why it is so important that we have a home defense strategy. If you don't have one, the Complete Home Defense online course can help you come up with one. Even if you don't take the course, you can search our written content for principles and strategies to keep your family safe at home.

Here are just some of the many articles we've written on security and home defense strategies.

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.

8 Comments

  1. Kevin on July 2, 2023 at 5:09 pm

    The decision to shoot through a door when no one touched the door is bad. Also, the additional 28 rounds spent was also very bad. You dont shoot at someone fleeing, especially given no property or person had been harmed.

    Idiots with guns is how we end up getting out rights taken away. You should have to pass safety questions and classes to own an AR. I mean, I am a serious 2a guy, but i would welcome a safety test with scensrio based, situational awareness questions.

    Question 1 You can see who is on the other side of the door, but you think it could be a bad guy, what do you do?

    A) A just start shooting and ask questions later
    B) Call the police and wait in a safe place with your family and firearm on safe. Only defend yourself of the prowler tries to break in.

    Answer B

    I mean, imagine if that just happened to be a family member out there. What, you just open fire through a door at a flashlight. Sheesh!

  2. Angelo Pabon on July 2, 2023 at 9:16 pm

    I am 200% in favor of minimizing and eliminating obstacles to our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Having said that, based on the information presented, I would have charged this moron. Firing 30 rounds from any weapon “in the general direction” of a supposed “threat”, when there is NO indication that you are in imminent danger is reckless and irresponsible. The potential threat that this kind of idiotic action represents merits charging this person. He is identified as a “retired lieutenant colonel. Maybe a pencil-pusher someplace? Even then, he should have known better.

    I think the sheriff made a mistake in letting him off. Had he fired only the two rounds (although that, in and of itself, was a stupid course of action), I might have understood the sheriff’s position. But 30 rounds? And in the “general direction” of someone who was already fleeing (let alone being just an innocent worker)? Sorry. Even under “Stand Your Ground” that doesn’t cut it. There was never ANY indication of a threat in the videos.

    The shooter needed a lesson in elementary gun safety which he didn’t learn. He violated at least two, if not three, of the 5 basic legal requirements of any self-defense shooting (innocence, imminence, proportionality, avoidance, reasonableness). He also violated fundamental gun safety principles. Perhaps the expense of having to defend himself in court would have helped him to learn the lesson.

    It is stupid actions like this which lead to the infringement of 2nd Amendment rights. Anti-2nd Amendment activists will point to these idiotic actions and use them to justify the taking away of weapons from responsible, law abiding citizens. It angers me when I see people needlessly creating situations in which gun rights can be attacked. I would urge the sheriff to rethink the decision not to charge in the light of the violation of at least two of the criteria for legal self-defense: imminence and proportionality. The videos show NO imminent threat and there is no way that 30 shots can be considered proportional to the non-existent threat.

  3. Clem Dog on July 2, 2023 at 11:02 pm

    Take this guy’s rifle away and give him a box of rocks!

  4. Louis Roylo on July 3, 2023 at 4:20 am

    That home owner epitomizes the term “trigger happy”. Please do a follow up article so we can understand the kind of gun owner he is.

    • Ed on July 3, 2023 at 10:36 pm

      He is a retired LTC.

  5. Pat Brister on July 3, 2023 at 3:34 pm

    That’s nuts! Arming yourself is appropriate, as is calling 911. But, he should have minimized his exposure while observing the “suspect”. The 911 operator should have had communication with the homeowner regarding the homeowner’s observations and actions. Unless the “suspect” attempted to enter the home, no shots should have been fired at all. I understand the wife made the call, but she should have been relaying information between the 911 operator and her husband or handing the phone to her husband. I’m sure the adrenalin rush played a big part in what happened here, but discharging a weapon without probable cause could have serious consequences. He risked the lives of his friends and neighbors. The homeowner should have been charged with reckless endangerment, fined, and required to participate in some sort of firearms safety course.

  6. frankjbonazza3 on July 17, 2023 at 10:49 am

    “Should have to pass safety questions to own an AR”? Seriously? You are a serious 2A guy? Wow, you sound more like a Moms Demand Action kinda guy to me. Anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to allow government to decide who gets to own an AR isn’t a 2A person at all, or you are a government/ Leo person who believes in rights for me, but not for thee. The man who fired 30 rounds at the pool cleaner is a fool, and should be disciplined accordingly. I’m not in favor of placing arbitrary testing in place for everyone because of the actions of ONE. Shall Not Be Infringed, not if you can answer questions to my satisfaction…

  7. Brandywine8753 on August 1, 2023 at 11:10 am

    I have also been with USCCA for several years and this is another great way to train and be educated in Home and Self Defense. But one thing that cannot be promised is the training has to
    be practiced, like Situational Awareness, you can take all the training courses, but it takes a lifelong process and commitment every day of living to follow what you have learned,

    Florida, it has 2 Laws: Stand your ground and No Duty to Retreat. (Short version, there is much more.) In Self and Home Defense, as a homeowner, I cannot just shoot anyone that has the wrong address, walking their dog through your yard, a door-to-door salesman, or looking through your garbage can. I must have a reason or reasons to have a firearm aimed at anyone and to
    shoot an intruder of you person or your home, you must be in intimate fear of being killed or being severally injured.

    Florida is now Constitutional Carry, without the Open Carry part; that is illegal to do. You do not
    need a license or permit to carry or be trained. Yes, Florida is a permit less carry state.

    We all need all this training that we have available, if not things can get very bad, and many people have firearms attached on them. Please continue to work hard and thank you for the opportunity to train and for everyone’s hard work to provide the trainings available.

Leave a Comment