A father in Florida was hailed as a hero after he bravely thwarted an attempted kidnapping of his 17-year-old daughter, firing shots as four teenage suspects tried to break into his garage.
According to a statement from Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, the teens were armed with a knife, guns and a roll of tape and had planned to kidnap and rob members of the unnamed family from Baker on Wednesday.
Deputies from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office responded to a possible home-invasion robbery in progress at about 10:30 p.m. The 51-year-old father told the police his 17-year-old daughter called him to tell him someone had blocked the road to their house with barrels. She drove around them instead of getting out of her car. The father then heard his dogs barking and saw the motion-activated flood lights on his front lawn come on .
“He also heard what sounded like his car door closing and went to get his gun. After spotting some individuals trying to force their way into his garage, he fired three shots and the intruders fled into the woods. He later learned they had unscrewed some of his security lights,” the police statement added.
A neighbor who saw a 'suspicious car' fleeing from the scene called the police who stopped the 2016 White Jeep Liberty on Highway 4 and made a felony traffic stop. Deputies also found latex gloves, facial masks and dark clothing inside their car.
The four suspects were identified as 19-year-old Keilon Johnson, 17-year-old Austin French, 16-year-old Tyree Johnson, and 15-year-old Kamauri Horn, all of whom were from Crestview.
The police department’s investigation revealed that the teens’ plan was to kidnap the teenage daughter after forcing her out of her car by blocking the road with barrels and garbage cans.
“They then planned to head to her house, confront and subdue her father — who they believed to be wealthy — and rob the home. Instead, all four defendants are now charged with attempted kidnapping and attempted home invasion robbery,” the statement said.
All four suspects were taken into custody and Johnson was booked into the Okaloosa County Jail while the other defendants were transferred to a Department of Juvenile Justice facility.
Many Facebook users praised the unnnamed father for his act of courage.
A similar incident occurred in Utah in 2014 when a father foiled an attempt to kidnap his young daughter from their house. The suspect was in the family’s basement searching through things when he saw the girl sleeping in her bedroom. He then carried her out of bed and carried her upstairs, making noises that woke the parents.
The father went to the front door and saw the man carrying his daughter in the front lawn. He ran outside and wrestled away his daughter.
Salt Lake City Police Sgt Dean Carriger said at the time of the incident: “It obviously was a very scary, traumatic situation. The sanctity of our home is huge and for somebody to enter that and grab your child, it’s got to be one of the worst nightmares a parent could face. ... If those parents were not awakened to go out and investigate, he could have easily left undetected with the girl.”