TAMPA — No charges will be filed against a Hillsborough County sheriff’s detention deputy, a local firefighter or several of their friends who were taking target practice when a Lithia woman’s home was damaged by bullets.
Among the firearms being shot was an AK 47, according to authorities. No one was injured in the Jan. 24 incident, but damage to Dawn Bryan’s Porter Road home amounted to $6,000, she said, and included holes in the walls, trim, a pool cage and a shot-out window above a crib in a child’s room.
The State Attorney’s Office said no one is being charged because investigators can’t determine who shot the bullets that damaged Bryan’s home. Bryan says investigators didn’t try very hard and that law enforcement is protecting its own.
When deputies arrived, only two of the people taking target practice in the neighbor’s yard stayed around, she said. She also said no one from the State Attorney’s Office contacted her during the investigation.
“I guess this is how to get away with a crime in Florida,’’ Bryan says. “Confuse the ... officers with 10 different shooters. They are all a joke.”
The neighbor, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue firefighter Scott Radford, and his friends, which included Hillsborough County sheriff’s detention deputy Paul Adee, admitted to responding deputies that they were shooting guns but said they weren’t aware some of the the rounds had struck Bryan’s home. With deputies present, Radford told Bryan that he would pay for the damage.
The sheriff’s office investigated the matter, took evidence and statements and turned the results over to the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office, which made public its decision Tuesday.
“The investigation and evidence did not identify any particular individual that fired rounds that struck the subject residence,” said a letter sent from Assistant State Attorney Christopher Moody to sheriff’s Maj. Robert Ura. “Therefore, the evidence is insufficient to sustain a criminal charge.”
Bryan said she was shocked to hear the conclusion and that she never was contacted by prosecutors or investigators with their office.
She said she can’t afford to fix the holes in her home or her smashed windows. She said her children are afraid to sleep in the back bedroom. She’s a single mother with 13 children, 10 adopted.
“My kids won’t even go back there,” she said. “They sleep on the floor. They’re afraid to go to that end of the house.
“I think that what I’m the most mad about is the fact that my kids are scared,” she said. Many of her adopted children have come from traumatic and abusive places, she said.
“I made promises to each and every child in my home that I would always keep them safe,” she said, “and for some reason I feel like I failed and it’s killing me.”
Bryan called 911 after she heard shots fired from next door and the bullets hitting her house. Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office spokesman Mark Cox said prosecutors weren’t able to tell who fired the bullets that hit Bryan’s house.
“It was a situation where multiple individuals were on the scene,” he said, “and there were multiple guns being shot and we were unable to determine who fired the shots in question.”
He said prosecutors couldn’t charge everyone.
“You can’t do that under the law,” he said. “We have to be specific in our approach in a situation like this. We can’t charge everyone just because they were there.”
Radford and Adee could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Carter said that because the state filed no charges, there would be no departmental review of Adee.
“No laws were broken,” she said. “So there was no action taken.”