‘Lawful but awful’: Florida homeowner fired 30 shots at pool cleaner he mistook for an intruder

Homeowner is protected by Stand Your Ground laws, says Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Thursday 29 June 2023 20:42 BST

Florida man fires 30 gunshots at pool cleaner he mistook for an intruder

A Florida homeowner fired 30 shots at his pool cleaner after apparently mistaking him for an intruder – but will not face any charges.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that the pool cleaner had been working at the home for more than six months when he was shot at by a former Army officer with an AR-15.

The victim, Karl Polek, 33, had arrived at the Dunedin house at 9pm to clean the pool after not being able to make his earlier appointment. Investigators say that he had not notified the homeowners that he would be there so late.

When Jana Hocevar, 43, spotted a man in their garden she locked the door and told her husband there was an intruder, officials say.

Her husband, Bradley Hocevar, a former lieutenant colonel in the Army, took his AR-15 assault rifle from a closet and fired two shots at the victim through a sliding glass door, wounding him with broken glass.

Not realising the pool cleaner had fled, the homeowner then proceeded to fire 30 shots in 90 seconds. Mr Polek was transported to the hospital with minor injuries, the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office said that the homeowner had “acted within the law” and no crime had been committed.

“It was lawful but awful,” the sheriff told reporters.

“In hindsight, he should have probably let them know he was coming at 9 o’clock at night, yet he made no effort to contact them at all.”

The homeowner’s actions were protected by Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws.

“A person who is in a dwelling or residence in which the person has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use or threaten to use: non-deadly force against another [...] [and] deadly force if they reasonably believe that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm,” states the Florida statute.

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