PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies discovered a huge arsenal of weapons inside an Palm Harbor man’s upscale home on Sunday, including at least 15 weapons and more than 1,300 rounds of ammunition.
It began around 3 a.m. Sunday when 51-year-old Stephen Jonas admitted to Pinellas County sheriff’s investigators that he took out a rifle and shot at least 15 rounds trying to hit fruit rats inside his yard.
One of those rounds actually hit a neighbor’s house, though no one was injured.
“We heard the gunshots and they were so loud and we were like, ‘this is coming from our neighborhood,’” neighbor Mike Morrow told News Channel 8, remembering how he, his wife and three daughters woke up to gunshots on Sunday.
“It’s really just very interesting that he’s shooting at rats. That’s pretty bizarre behavior.”
Morrow’s wife and several other people called 911 and within minutes, deputies arrived on the scene at the gated community on Canopy Oaks Boulevard.
That led to an eight hour standoff. With deputies out on the street, along with their light tactical vehicle, and using their public address system to coax Jonas out, they never heard anything from them.
“We believe that he was impaired and sleeping inside,” Deputy Jessica Mackesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office told us, going on to say that in addition to the weapons and ammunition, they also found marijuana and Xanax that wasn’t prescribed to him inside the house.
News Channel 8 was the only news crew on scene when Jonas came out of the house with his hands up.
Investigators say he’s fully cooperating. He let them search his house without a warrant and that’s how deputies found the weapons.
“We were able to recover more than 15 firearms from the home to include rifles, handguns and one shot gun and over 1,300 rounds of ammunition,” Deputy Mackesy said.
The weapons and drugs are now under lock and key at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office as evidence, but still, neighbors like Morrow are very concerned and the sheriff’s office realizes that.
“We understand that there is a concern from safety,” Deputy Mackesy said. “He does not have any more firearms in the home at this time.”
Jonas faces three charges, including two felonies. If he is convicted of one or both of those felonies, he could lose all his weapons.
We reached out to Jonas repeatedly and went to his house several times and weren’t able to speak with him.