Sarasota deputies search for home invasion suspect

8:01 PM, Dec 24, 2013   |    comments
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Sarasota, Florida -- Sarasota Sheriff's deputies are looking for a suspect in a home invasion this Christmas Eve. It's the second home invasion in the Hidden Oaks Subdivision in more than a year.

In July 2012, a grandmother living alone shot and injured an intruder as he broke into her home.

Hidden Oaks is an upscale neighborhood known for being a quiet and safe place to live, but today that sense of security in homeowners is shaken after Sarasota Sheriff's deputies say an intruder preyed on an elderly man during a random home invasion.

"It's shameful. This time of year, one should be treating each other kindly, taking care of each other, but times are desperate," said Tim Loy, a father of four young children. He lives two doors down from 89-year-old Robert Beeler.

"He kept to himself. Seen him out only a few times," said Loy.

Beeler, a retired doctor, told deputies he was awoken around 6:30 a.m. by an intruder wearing a ski mask. By then, Beeler told deputies, the suspect had started filling a pillow case with items.

"[Beeler] tried to escape, but [the suspect] forced him back inside the house and put him in his closet," said Lt. John Kost with the Sarasota Sheriff's Office.

Deputies say when Beeler could not remember the combination to his safe, the intruder fired back using the victim's own revolver.

"The intruder took the hand gun, fired one shot into the closet where the victim was at, didn't strike him. After he did that, he left the scene," said Kost.

Beeler called 911 and told the dispatcher his 60 inch TV and his revolver were among the things stolen.

Kost described Beeler as scared but calm. He said, "He was shaken up of course, he had been shot at, but he was deliberate and clearly said what had happened."

Loy said, "Even in neighborhoods like this stuff happens. Protect yourself the best way you can."

According to the Sarasota Sheriff's Office, deputies have responded 17 times to the Hidden Oaks neighborhood since 1996 mostly for traffic accidents and noise disturbance calls. In 2010, deputies investigated a burglary. Then there is the intruder who was shot and injured by a homeowner in July 2012 and this morning's home invasion.

The intruder is described as a man in his mid-20s, medium build, and he was driving a light colored car.

Sarasota police found the stolen television in a dumpster about two miles away, but Beeler's hand gun remains missing.

No arrests have been made and the investigation continues.

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