Across the street from Kuhn lives Mickey Fox and his wife, Brigetti. They are residing in a cramped 200-square-foot storage shed on the aptly named street — just yards from where Hurricane Michael destroyed the very little the couple claimed as their own.
A carload of thieves took notice of the ruin a few days after the storm, approaching the debris with their headlights off after the city’s official curfew.
“I was scared,” Fox said, crying into his T-shirt. “I just sit out here and don’t bother nobody.”
Fox’s neighbor, Carl Kuhn, was outside grilling dinner with his wife when he saw the vehicle pull up in front of the remains of Fox’s trailer.
“I started hollering, ‘Who are you? You don’t belong here!’ ” Kuhn said.
To punctuate his warning, he fired a rifle twice into the ground.
He scared the guy off, he said, but soon after police showed up and arrested him for discharging a firearm in a residential area. He spent the next four days in jail, before his dad found a bail bondsman in Wewahitchka to bail him out.
“That’s the first time I ever broke the law,” he said.
You hometown has been ravaged by a hurricane, it is nighttime, there is a curfew, an unknown car with the lights out, drives by and stops in front of your neighbor’s, you give them a warning accentuated with two non-aimed shots.
You go to jail.
Mr. Kuhn was probably arrested for violating Florida Statute 790.15 – Discharging firearm in public or on residential property. If found guilty, it would be a misdemeanor of the first degree that carries jail time up to a year and $1,000 fine.
There is a looter problem in Bay County, it is on the record.
Sheriff’s Maj. Jimmy Stanford told The Associated Press that about 10 looters have been arrested each night since the hurricane slammed into Bay County.
And not only you have a looting situation, you are not able to take care of all the calls you get:
One of his neighbors, Steven Strassberger, said Carl gave him a .22 rifle.
Strassberger’s partner was in Pensacola so he weathered the storm in his modular home alone — along with his two parrots, Dino and Baby, Lucy the cockatiel and five dogs.
A couple of days later, he spotted flashlights bouncing off the wrecked home across the street. Looters, he thought, and called the police.
“They basically told me I was on my own because they were stretched so thin,” he said.
Since then, he’s been barricading the door every night “like an old lady.”
So, the Bay County Sheriff’s office arrests Mr. Kuhn for taking two non-lethal shots that interrupted the possible evil intention of somebody driving at night, without lights in a neighborhood he did not belong to and violating curfew. Does that even make sense? In times like this, the ability of Floridians to take care of themselves cannot be curtailed with te threat of arrest just because an overwhelmed Sheriff’s department feels it is the only one that can stop criminals so it allows for citizens to be victimized by the bad guys and the Law.
Strassberger and Kuhn hung around Fox’s shed on Saturday afternoon, smoking cigarettes and playing with Chopper.
Fox would wander over to his ruined home, let out a few heavy sobs, and meander back toward his neighbors.
Kuhn wrapped his arm around Fox and kissed him hard on the cheek.
He’s due in court Nov. 26, and his neighbors have promised to show up and defend their friend, whom they call “the hero of Fox Avenue.”
Good, the more people show up, the better. And I hope that the judge not only throws away the charges but has selected words for the arresting officers about the right of People to defend themselves.