By Team

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) – A sheriff in the Florida panhandle had some surprising advice for a homeowner who shot at a would-be robber.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson invited the homeowner to join a gun safety course to “learn to shoot a lot better” and “save the taxpayers money.”

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Johnson made the comments last Thursday in announcing the arrest of a 32-year-old man who had been breaking into houses in Pace, which is near Pensacola.

Multiple residents called 911 last Wednesday to report the break-ins and deputies quickly set up a perimeter, Johnson said. The suspect was jumping over fences and breaking into homes as deputies tried to catch him.

“We don’t know which homeowner shot at him. I guess they think that they did something wrong, which they did not,” Johnson said. “If someone is breaking into your house you’re more than welcome to shoot at them in Santa Rosa County. We’d prefer that you do actually.”

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He added that the sheriff’s office conducts a gun safety course every other Saturday.

“If you take that, you’ll shoot a lot better and hopefully you’ll save the taxpayers money,” he added.

After the man was shot at, deputies eventually caught up to him, already inside another home. As they broke through a door he was trying to block, the man went head-first through a window to escape, cutting himself on the glass.

The man has a record stretching back to when he was 13, Johnson said. He had spent more than six years in prison and had active felony warrants for his arrest at the time of his capture. He is being held on a $157,500 bond, and faces multiple charges, records show.

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(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.) Team