DOVER, Fla. (WFLA) – Travas Strickland says he never thought this would happen. He claims he was simply trying to protect his property and his family.
Strickland is accused of impersonating a deputy and pointing a gun at people near his Dover home on Monday. The 30-year-old says it’s a crime he didn’t commit. The arrest, he maintains, has ruined his life.
The former security guard wanted to set the record straight, so he shared his story with 8 on your Side Tuesday afternoon near his home in rural Hillsborough County.
He told us he’s still in shock.
“It’s not right, it’s not innocent until proven guilty,” Strickland said. “They just arrest you, now I’ve got to prove everything.”
The husband and father told us he doesn’t understand how things got so bad, so fast. “I lost everything, this is not fair at all,” he remarked with a sigh.
At his home in Dover, Strickland opened up about what took place and how distraught he was on Monday, taken away in handcuffs, his wife in tears. He explained that his goal in life to is do one thing each and every day – protect his property in rural Hillsborough County, ensuring the safety of his wife and kids.
In his career life, Strickland said things were going well. He he loved his job working as a security guard at Port Tampa Bay, a job he no longer has after his arrest.
“As of right now, I just lost my job, my concealed carry, all my security licenses, I am very unhappy,” he said.
This father-of-six says he had the concealed carry permit for safety purposes, especially at his Dover home. He claims his neighbors were dumping debris illegally and trespassing on his property.
Including Monday, he told us.
He says he told the neighbors, a father and son, to stop. He also said that he never claimed to be a cop and that he never pointed a gun at anyone.
“As I’m unloading my car, they started yelling, who do you think you are,” Strickland recalled. “I had my concealed carry, I had that on me, but as well, I had a shotgun I was taking out of the trunk of the car. I never put my hand on my gun, never went to pull. As soon as I said back up, they started backing up.”
As all this was taking place, a nearby homeowner called 911 and deputies arrived moments later. They immediately began interviewing everyone, including the neighbors, who told detectives Travas Strickland informed them that he was a Hillsborough deputy, working undercover in narcotics.
“I never said that,” said Strickland. “I never told them I was working for the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office. I work for the Port. I never told them I was a deputy, and I never pointed my gun at anyone.”
Peter Bishop is the neighbor who was fighting with Strickland. Bishop, who is also a father, lives just down the street and admits he and his son were terrified when they say Strickland pulled out a gun. “He went and got a shotgun out of his car and came back and told me to get off his property,” said Bishop.
“This man came out of nowhere and said, get out of here,” said Bishop. “That’s all I can say without legal counsel. I just knew I had to get out of there.”
Travas Strickland is facing a number of felony charges. He says he is going to hire an attorney and fight those charges in court.