LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A Lakeland woman took the law into her own hands by removing weapons from her estranged husband’s apartment, but it ended in her arrest.
Courtney Irby was charged with grand theft of a firearm and armed burglary after she handed in the weapons she stole from her husband’s Lakeland apartment, according to her arrest affidavit.
Her husband, Joseph Irby, told police he wanted to press charges and his wife did not have permission to be in his apartment.
This followed Joseph Irby’s arrest last week after an incident at the courthouse parking lot in Bartow.
“(He) followed behind her in his vehicle and began ramming his vehicle’s front bumper into the back of the victim’s rear bumper. He then began screaming and yelling at her,” the affidavit reads.
Joseph Irby was arrested on a domestic aggravated battery with a deadly weapon charge.
While he was in jail, Courtney Irby broke into his apartment, where she had never visited, and stole the weapons.
When she went to turn them into police, an officer asked, “’So you are telling me you committed armed burglary?”
“Yes I am but he wasn’t going to turn them in so I’m doing it,” she replied, according to the affidavit.
“We have to safeguard every citizen’s rights. When a case is brought to us, we have to look at all sides of the cases and come to the fairest conclusion we can for everyone involved,” said Lakeland Police Chief Ruben Garcia following an outcry on social media over reports of her arrest.
Chief Garcia told 8 On Your Side he didn’t know of any incidents when Lakeland PD officers were called to the Irby home.
However, Courtney Irby told police she had several restraining orders against him in the past, including a temporary injunction at the time of her arrest.
“We’re grateful for the support that she’s gotten. This has been one of the toughest things she’s ever had to do. She’s strong and she has a lot of love. We’re there for her whatever she needs,” Haley Burke, Courtney Irby’s sister told 8 On Your Side.
“It’s such a fine line when you’re in fear of your life,” said Dr. Linda Parker, director of victim services at Peace River Center.
Domestic violence survivor advocates recommend utilizing resources, including the Peace River Center, and communicating with police.
“We do live in an area where you can have a license to carry. We really encourage our survivors to talk to police, talk to authorities to let them know that’s a palpable fear,” said Parker.
A new law in Florida allows police to seize guns from people who are deemed threats to themselves or others via a risk protection order.