Florida (The Gaslamp Post) – SWAT officers searching for a suspect busted into the home of an elderly couple and terrorized them for several hours. The heavily armed officers were searching for a suspect whom although was related to the couple, did not live there.
Residents Carl Stark, 71, and his wife Juanita, 73, say that officers forced their way into their home last Tuesday, broke windows, smashed decorations, and ordered them onto the ground. They were reportedly looking for evidence as well as the elderly couple’s grandson who lives in a trailer next door.
They said that they hardly if ever, see their grandson.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, officers believed that the couple’s grandson, Aaron Vineyard, 36, was part of a 12-person crime ring that was responsible for many thefts.
The group had been stealing TVs, jewelry, laptops, a camera and guns from houses in the area since December, a sheriff’s report states. The informant told deputies he sold some of the stolen items, including a 12-gauge shotgun and a .45-caliber handgun, to Vineyard at the grandparents’ home. Deputies already knew Vineyard as the former president of a local Aryan Brotherhood chapter.
After spending hours tearing the elderly couple’s home apart, the SWAT raid turned up nothing. Their tactics which included the use of explosive smoke grenades could have killed Mr. Stark, who must stay attached to an oxygen tank.
The Starks were left terrified after the unexpected raid and say that they no longer feel they live in a secure home.
A broken drawer and crushed lamp shade lay in their tiny, fragile living room. There is a board over their front window that was smashed in. There’s a burn mark in the tile from a flash grenade. Picture frames and glass trinkets crashed to the floor. A clock on the wall is stopped at 9:12, when the batteries fell out from the impact of the door being kicked in.
At a news conference last Friday, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco stated that he fully stands behind the actions of his deputies during the raid on the elderly couple.
Nocco said his men weren’t taking chances when they decided to search the home Tuesday night. The SWAT team got the house they meant to, he said.
“I have no regrets in the operation that was performed,” Nocco said. “The fact that we put safety first, we’re not going to apologize for that.”
The sheriff’s office told the couple that any requests for payment of damages can be sent to their agency’s legal unit.
Sheriff’s spokesman Doug Tobin said SWAT members’ actions “ensured the safety of all of those inside the house and deputies executing the search warrant.
…the reason our SWAT team was there was due to their grandson utilizing their residence to further his burglary ring,” Tobin said.
(h/t: Sipsey Street Irregulars)