MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A local builder was simply protecting his property from vandals, but did he go too far with his vigilante style approach?
Witnesses said he looked like a modern day Rambo – dressed in camouflage, a rifle strapped over his shoulder and wearing night-vision goggles.
Two women were startled when they saw the armed man appear from a tree line, and had a few harsh words for whoever vandalized and were shooting fireworks at new homes he currently has under construction.
Carolyn Carlisle and Aneida Cruzodo were outside their Rutherford Woodlands Apartments talking late Sunday night when they heard a strange noise coming from the tree line.
“We kept hearing something rustling in the woods,” Carlisle said.
And then a man appeared.
“When he approached us, he had an assault rifle,” Carlisle said. “He was in Army fatigues.”
The man told the women he believes the children from the apartment complex had been vandalizing his property and he was tired of it.
“It startled me, you know, because of all the stuff going on today, you know, the shooting in Orlando, yes, it scared me,” Carlisle said. “It scared me because there were a million children outside on the playground.”
Cruzodo said she never felt threatened.
“When he first came out, he had his arms up, he had his hands up the whole time and he told us, ‘I’m not a bad person, do ya’ll know who has been vandalizing his homes,’”
Witnesses said there were a lot of kids and even adults out shooting fireworks even though it was 11 p.m.
Carlisle relayed the message from the man to stay away from his property or else.
“He said we need to tell everybody that lives over here that if they cross the line to his property, he was going to shoot to kill,” Carlisle said.
Police said the man does have a valid gun carry permit – and since he never took the rifle off his shoulder or made any direct threats, he was not arrested.
Police did tell him vigilante justice or taking the law into his own hands isn’t the right approach.
“He was informed by a shift supervisor that the use of deadly force, about the use of force in general, and that it’s always best to call law enforcement and let us investigate and apprehend any criminals that may be in the area,” police Sgt. Kyle Evans said. “Now that we are aware of juveniles vandalizing the homes we’ll have an extra residential patrol for that area.”
The builder has installed cameras and put up warning signs – hoping the vandalism and the fireworks will stop.
“He was highly upset; I guess he was at his breaking point,” Cruzodo said.
News 2 did reach out to the builder to get his side of the story, he contacted us and said, ‘today was very busy,’ and asked us to email him questions and he would reply.
We have yet to receive his response.