PALM HARBOR — A Palm Harbor man claims he was standing his ground against rats in his backyard after police responded to reports of gunshots.
At 3 a.m. Sunday, police officers arrived at 1520 Canopy Oaks Boulevard after neighbors reported hearing several gunshots in the area. One of the bullets had made its way into a neighbor’s home. They set up a perimeter and attempted to contact the owner of the home where the shots were suspected of coming from.
After an eight-hour stand-off, Floriduh man Stephen Jonas, 51, strolled out of his home and confessed to being the shooter, stating he had been attempting to kills rats in his backyard. At 3 a.m.
According to the police report, “Deputies entered the home for safety, to determine if there was anyone inside the home with Jonas. Deputies were able to confirm there were no other subjects in the home and there were no injuries. Deputies observed a .223 rifle inside the residence, along with many other weapons. Drugs were also observed in the home.
“During the investigation, deputies determined there was one residence, located to the south of 1520 Canopy Oaks Boulevard that was struck with one of the rounds. There were no injuries to anyone residing in that home.”
Jonas, who was arrested at 11:22 a.m., was charged with one count of shooting into an occupied dwelling, possession of marijuana and possession of Alprazolam, aka Xanax. After being booked into the Pinellas County Jail, he was released on a $27,000 bond.
Jonas’ claim, though, might not be far-fetched.
According to Critter Control in Tampa, “Living near the coast, inclement weather isn’t new to residents of Palm Harbor. Something with a little less exposure, however, are rat infestations. When the sea brings in severe weather, rats will seek shelter in the closest place they can find warmth and shelter; Palm Harbor homes. The key to keeping your home and family safe from damages is to remove the rats before the infestation can grow.”
Realtor.com estimates the value of Jonas’ house at $618,200. No word on how the rat invasion will affect his property value.