Zephyrhills police officer’s home, cruiser shot up, 2 suspects on the loose

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla.  (WFLA) – A Zephyrhills police officer and his family woke up to gunfire and not just outside their house but inside, too.

The investigation, now headed up by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the Zephyrhills Police Department, centers around two suspects who fired several rounds into the officer’s patrol cruiser parked in his driveway as well as his house in the area of 9th Street and 14th Avenue.

The big question now is whether the officer and his family were targeted or if it was a random crime.

The good news?  No one was hit.

Neighbors told News Channel 8 the two suspects started shooting around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday and then took off empty-handed.

For most of the day, detectives along with a forensics team searched the area with a fine tooth comb.  From far off in the distance, you could see at least a dozen evidence markers and a bullet hole in the cruiser right above the trunk lock, while crime scene tape cordoned off the scene for a several block radius.

“An attack on any law enforcement officer is an attack on every law enforcement officer, not only in the county, but in America,” said Captain Tait Sanborn of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office as he discussed the case with reporters.

Neighbors in the area are concerned, including Ashley Newson, who lives just a few houses down and says she is a friend of the officer’s wife and their young daughter.

Newson, like so many other neighbors, woke up this morning to see her neighborhood turned into a crime scene.

Her sense of security knowing a cop lives down the street has been violated.

“It being ricochet range from my house just makes it a little harder to swallow,” Newson told News Channel 8.  “You don’t wish this on anyone and the fact that you don’t feel safe in your own home when you’re sleeping, that’s scary.”

Newson was still in shock that the suspects could be bold enough to shoot at a first responder’s home, not only putting his life in danger but his family’s as well.

“I have so many friends that are police officers and first responders and it is heart-wrenching that anyone would go out of their way to hurt somebody that wants to protect them,” Newson said.

Investigators are not releasing the identity of the officer for his own safety, but say the suspects should come forward.

“If they don’t now, who knows how this will end,” said Capt. Sanborn.  “We feel that every citizen has the right to be safe in their own home and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t apply that same center to law enforcement.”

Investigators told News Channel 8 the two could face attempted murder charges.

Sheriff Chris Nocco takes any threat to law enforcement in Pasco County very seriously.

“For this reason, and in collaboration with the Zephyrhills Police Department, our agency has assumed the investigation into the shooting this morning of a ZPD officer’s home and vehicle,” he said.

Nocco is asking anyone in the area of 9th Street and 14th Avenue in Zephyrhills who may have seen something suspicious between 3:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., or who may have security cameras in this area, to please contact 1-800-706-2488.

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