Elderly couple says SWAT team mistakenly stormed their house - WFLA News Channel 8

Elderly couple says SWAT team mistakenly stormed their New Port Richey house

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NEW PORT RICHEY, FL (WFLA) -

An elderly New Port Richey couple says the Pasco County Sheriff's Office SWAT team had the wrong house when they stormed their home Tuesday night.

"They scared the hell out of me," said Juanita Stark, 72.

A sign on their front door warns no one to smoke since there are oxygen tanks inside. Stark says armed SWAT members broke down the door and threw two smoke bombs into their living room. Carl Stark, 70, who relies on the oxygen to breathe, was in the living room.

"It could have blown up the oxygen tanks," said Danyel Taylor, the Stark's live-in granddaughter.

Pasco Sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin says deputies had a warrant to search their Sholtz St. house for stolen guns and electronics. The couples' grandson, Aaron Vineyard, 36, is suspected of storing them there, according to Tobin. Pasco deputies previously arrested Vineyard for multiple DUI's, child abuse, and possession of a controlled substance.

"We want to make sure we have that element of surprise when we're going in, especially for someone who has a long criminal history," said Tobin.

Juanita Stark says Vineyard doesn't live in their house and they hardly ever see him, even though he lives in the trailer next door and uses their address on his driver's license. Pasco County Sheriff's deputies have responded to Vineyard's trailer 25 times since 1996, according to call records.

"We can certainly look at our procedures to see if there's something we could have done better in this particular instance," said Tobin.

Juanita and Carl Stark question why deputies came to their house Tuesday night, instead of their grandson's.  They claim they overheard SWAT members wondering the same thing.

"I heard two of them say they thought they must have hit the wrong house," said Carl Stark.

Tobin said the Sheriff's Office will pay to repair all the damage at the Stark's house. Juanita Stark said deputies shattered their front window, dented their door, damaged their wooden privacy fence, and broke dozens of items inside the home.  The smoke bombs also left burn and soot marks on their wall and floor.

"They treated us like we were criminals," said Juanita Stark. "I don't so much as have a parking ticket."

Juanita Stark wants deputies to apologize and said she plans to consult with an attorney.

Tobin said deputies are still looking for Vineyard.  He is considered a person of interest in a theft ring. Anyone who knows where he is, is asked to call the Pasco County Sheriff's Office at (727) 844-7711.

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