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Deputies: Man tried to kill family 3 days after release from jail

5:58 PM, Sep 30, 2012   |    comments
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LAND O' LAKES, Florida -- Robert Brooks got out of jail in Pasco County days ago after being charged with trying to strangle his wife. On Sunday morning, deputies say the 40-year-old tried to kill his wife and mother by setting their house on fire after they wouldn't let him inside.

"He got a gas can. It's believed he then broke the window, put the gas can in, and then poured gas throughout the living room and then ignited the living room," said Doug Tobin with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

No one was hurt in the fire, but Brooks escaped. That sparked a search that lasted for about five hours. K9 units were brought out, along with a helicopter from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

After they left, deputies say Brooks thought the search was over, and peeked his head out from a brushy area of a canal in the house's backyard. That's when a deputy spotted him.

It's believed Brooks was drunk at the time. He will be medically cleared before being booked into jail.

"We believe he is mentally unstable in his current condition and based on what he did here, that the public did have a right to be in some type of fear," Tobin said.

And many neighbors did fear, especially in a community filled with children.

"This guy was back in the forest running around, and if the cops couldn't find him with the helicopter and dogs and a foot pursuit, that's pretty concerning," said Joseph Spespi, a next-door neighbor who has a 1-year-old daughter. "So, I'm glad they found him."

Volunteers with the American Red Cross came out to help Brooks' wife and mother. The house is expected to be a total loss. Brooks is facing charges of attempted murder, arson, and violating the terms of his pretrial release.

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