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HCSO canine teams catch would-be home invaders

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Three would-be home invaders are in the custody of law enforcement authorities after they were tracked down and apprehended by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) K-9 unit and their handlers. The suspects’ accused get-away-car driver was caught by deputies during a traffic stop.

Around 10 p.m. on June 14, HCSO personnel responded to a call about an attempted home invasion on Moondance Circle in Spring Hill.

Prior to deputies’ arrival, the 911 caller said that via her video surveillance system, she observed three masked suspects walking around the perimeter of her home. One was armed with what appeared to be an AR-15-style rifle, and the other was armed with what appeared to be a handgun. she said. She also told the 911 dispatcher that she saw the trio run to an adjacent home which they attempted to enter through a garage door.

The three fled the area on foot once responding deputies arrived.

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The HSCO Aviation Unit located the suspects walking in the area of Clear Springs Road. They ran to the back of a residence on Eastwood Trail where the K-9 unit was staged to assist in the search.

K-9 Chase and his handler Deputy J. Andrews subsequently located and chased down suspect Jonathan Greenwood, 17. K-9 Chase subdued him with a bite on the hand. Greenwood was taken into custody without incident.

Just seconds later, K-9 Justice and his handler Cpl. S. Miller caught up with the second suspect, 16-year-old Wesley Bailey Jr. K-9 Justice subdued him with a bite to the thigh.

Meanwhile, K-9 Argo and his handler Deputy G. Locke located the third suspect, Eli Pruitt, 16. Pruitt surrendered.

Deputies also recovered an airsoft gun and a clear paintball gun. No actual firearms were located, HCSO said in a written statement.

The fourth suspect Colin Leonard, 19 was caught during a traffic stop on Barclay Avenue. Arresting deputies discovered 22 amphetamine pills inside his vehicle. During the investigation witnesses reported seeing the driver of Leonard’s vehicle circling the area at the time of the attempted break in.

Further investigation revealed that Leonard drove the three juveniles to the Moondance Circle residence for the purpose of stealing drugs and money from the victim. Leonard was waiting for a call from the suspects once they were ready to leave.

At first the three would-be home invaders targeted the wrong house, but realized it only after they had already broken a garage window.

Greenwood, Bailey and Pruitt were transported to the Hernando County Detention Center and charged with Burglary of an Occupied Dwelling, Attempted Home Invasion, and Resisting without Violence.

They were later taken to the Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Ocala.

Leonard was booked into the Hernando County Detention Center on charges of Burglary of an Occupied Dwelling, Attempted Home Invasion, and Possession of a Controlled Substance without a Prescription.

His bond was set at $12,000.


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