FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida prosecutor has ordered an investigation after a homeowner fired shots into a couple’s car when they mistakenly turned onto his property while making a late-night Instacart delivery. Police closed the case without consulting the state attorney's office.
No one was injured by the gunfire in an upscale Fort Lauderdale suburb, but it is the latest in a spate of similar shootings across the U.S. where people have mistakenly turned onto the wrong property or gotten in the wrong car. One person has been killed and others seriously wounded. In this case, the shooter told police the car was being driven erratically, struck his leg, and made him fear for himself and his son.
Broward County State Attorney Harold Pryor issued a statement saying police investigators never contacted his office about the April 15 shooting in Southwest Ranches that put at least two bullets into the car driven by 19-year-old Waldes Thomas Jr., who was with his 18-year-old girlfriend, Diamond Darville.
Pryor said his staff members were unaware of the shooting until they were contacted Friday by a reporter from WTVJ-TV, who interviewed the couple. The Davie Police Department has a contract with Southwest Ranches to provide service.
“I contacted the Davie Police Department to request a full investigation,” Pryor said Friday, adding that his prosecutors will decide whether charges should be filed.
Davie police declined to comment Sunday but released the lead detective's report. He wrote that without any video, he couldn't determine whether either the shooter or couple committed a crime.
“Each party appeared justified in their actions based on the circumstances they perceived,” the report concluded.
The shooting happened on an unlit street in a semi-rural neighborhood at a home sitting on two acres.
According to the police report, Thomas and Darville got lost while delivering groceries for Instacart shortly before 10 p.m. They were on the phone with their customer when Thomas turned their 2014 Honda Civic into an area where the shooter stores equipment for his excavation business. The address they were looking for is across the street.
The shooter and the couple gave investigators conflicting reports about what happened next.
The homeowner told officers he asked his 12-year-old son to tell the driver to leave but soon heard the boy yelling for help. The father said he saw the car driving erratically, banging into logs and boulders, and so he told his son to run.
He said the car then drove toward him and ran over his foot. Saying he feared for his life and his son's, the man drew his handgun and fired at the car's tires, but it sped away. He called police.
An officer found Thomas and Darville parked nearby. When he asked what happened, they replied, “We just got shot at.” He said that Darville was crying and that Thomas appeared “extremely nervous and scared.” The officer said that there were two bullet holes in the car's bumper and that one tire was flat.
The couple told police they thought that they were at the right house and tried to leave after the boy told them they weren't. Thomas said he put the car into reverse and hit a boulder, which was when the shooter approached “aggressively." That's when Thomas said he heard shots and drove away. Darville said she saw the shooter pull his gun and fire.
“I said, ‘We got to go, we got to go,’” Darville told WTVJ. “I was scared, I’m not going to lie.” She didn't respond to a phone call or emails from The Associated Press.
The AP isn't naming the property resident because he hasn't been charged with a crime. His phone rang unanswered, and he did not return a text message Sunday seeking comment.
Police say they returned the shooter's gun after closing the case. __
An earlier version incorrectly said the statement was issued Sunday, not Friday.
Terry Spencer, The Associated Press