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Homeowner Jack Crawford shoots teens who attempted home invasion

11:20 AM, Jan 31, 2011   |    comments
Jack Crawford, 72, was a victim of a home invasion Saturday night.
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UPDATE: Bonds set for teens in botched home invasion

Pensacola, Florida (News Journal) -- Two teenagers were shot Saturday night by a 72-year-old man they allegedly beat with a baseball bat during a home-invasion robbery in Ferry Pass.

About 8:45 p.m., three teenage males knocked on the door of a home in the 3300 block of Raines Street, Pensacola Police Department officials said.

When resident Jack Crawford, 72, answered the door, one of the teens hit him in the head with an aluminum bat and tried to force his way into the home.

"I opened it up, and he hit me right off. ... Wham! Split my head open," Crawford said.

"So I shot him and another guy," Crawford said, chuckling as he told the story to a Pensacola News Journal reporter Sunday evening. "I could have shot the third one, but I would have had to shoot him in the back as he ran away."

The attackers fled the scene on foot, and Crawford's 70-year-old sister, who also lives at the home, called the police, he said.

Earl Benard, 15, Nathaniel Nichols, 17, and Curtis Crenshaw, 18, all of Pensacola, have been charged with home-invasion robbery and aggravated battery in connection with the case, police said.

Crenshaw and Nichols were arrested at a local hospital after being dropped off for treatment with gunshot wounds to their torsos. Benard later was arrested at a nearby rental home.

Nichols remained hospitalized Sunday afternoon, police said. Crenshaw was treated and released and was being held Sunday evening at Escambia County Jail on $300,000 bond.

State Attorney Bill Eddins said he plans to try all three suspects as adults.

Crawford said he grabbed his handgun as a precaution and was holding it at his side when he opened the door Saturday night.

"At 9 o'clock at night, I never take any chances," Crawford said.

The three teens had "hoods on and scarves around their faces," Crawford said, and they hit him with the bat before anyone had a chance to speak.

Crawford stumbled back a step from the blow but didn't fall, and he started shooting as the first attacker was coming through the door, he said.

"I didn't go down, and I think it shocked him," Crawford said.

Following the attack, Crawford was transported by ambulance to West Florida Hospital for treatment of injuries to his head. He said doctors stapled his scalp back together, and he was back at home and feeling fine Sunday evening.

"Yeah I'm fine. I've got a hard head," Crawford said.

Police did not release any information Sunday about possible connections between Crawford and the teens. Crawford said he's lived in the neighborhood about 12 years, and he suspects the attackers were acquaintances with a neighborhood boy who used to do odd jobs around his home.

Crawford said he wasn't too rattled by the attack, and he still felt comfortable staying in the home.

He said he's had a rough-and-tumble past that's left him with a cool head in similar situations.

"I'm not that big of a boy, but I had a reputation," Crawford said.

UPDATE: Bonds set for teens in botched home invasion

Travis Griggs, Pensacola News Journal

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