My home state of Florida takes the cake for odd, whacked-out and sometimes downright crazy situations. Here in the “Sunshine State,” we have a bit of everything. So it wasn’t completely out of the norm when an unusual incident occurred a couple of months ago. And it’s still on my mind as I try to think of the best solution.

What do you do when a neighbor is in trouble, perhaps being abused or attacked? Do you call 911? Do you grab your firearm and rush to help? Do you pretend you don’t notice?

Save the Children

Someone had to make that decision in Pasco County, just south of my home. A little before 7:00 p.m., mid-week, a resident was out mowing his lawn. He heard a woman screaming in the house next door. (Now, unless this good Samaritan has an electric mower — which runs very silently — the woman must have some powerful lungs.)

As many of us would, he ran toward the sound, hoping to assist her. The lady may have splashed herself with hot grease or been alarmed when a child fell. It wasn’t immediately obvious that the woman was being beaten. But when the neighbor rushed to the rescue, he encountered a dangerous scene.

What he saw was the “neighbor lady” trying to lower children out of the home’s second-floor window! News reports said he “first [helped] remove the children to ensure their safety and then attempted to de-escalate the situation.”

A stone monument to victims of domestic violence stands on Courthouse Square in Quincy, Florida.

Monument to victims of domestic violence on Courthouse Square in Quincy, Florida. (Photo from Wikimedia by Michael Rivera)

Now, as any experienced cop will tell you, one of the most dangerous places in the modern world is a home where domestic violence occurs. The suspect in the encounter (the abuser) tried to shoot the good Samaritan and the woman but missed. The assailant was instead shot and killed by the neighbor.

The Unnamed Hero

The (thus far unnamed) hero just happened to be mowing his lawn with his pistol on his hip. It’s Florida. It’s 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity. Who does that? Thankfully, our hero did!

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said that as the victim was crying for help, she started moving a group of young “elementary school children” to the home’s second-story window. The neighbor helped her get the children to safety. The neighbor “was able to defend himself” and shot the suspect, killing him on scene, Sheriff Nocco said. The sheriff described the good Samaritan neighbor as “a hero.”

In a press conference, Nocco said deputies found blood in the house, and the home was “in disarray.” Officials did not specify the severity of the domestic violence victim’s injuries or if she was indeed hurt. (Florida’s Marsy’s Law, intended to ensure crime victims and their families are treated fairly, prevented the release of the abuse victim’s name and circumstances.) “Protecting somebody’s life is a priority,” Sheriff Nocco remarked.

About Rick Sapp

Richard “Rick” Sapp was a U.S. Army infantry platoon leader until recruited to the 66th Military Intelligence Group. There, he worked with the West German KRIPO (Criminal Police) at Czechoslovakian border stations during the Soviet invasion of 1968.

Returning to the U.S., he earned a Ph.D. in social anthropology after studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Catholic University of America and the University of Florida, following which he moved to Paris, France, for a year.

After four years with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, he turned to journalism and freelance writing, specializing in outdoor features. His journalism experience includes newspapers and magazines. He has authored more than 50 books for a variety of international publishers.

Rick is married and lives in Florida.