Polk County mobile home park residents angered over neighbor’s death in towing dispute

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Residents in the Stoll Manor mobile home community want to hear from their property managers after one of their own was killed in a towing dispute this week in Mulberry.

“They have to answer for this. They have to,” said Katy Dragon, who has lived inside Stoll Manor for more than two decades.

She is one of several residents who told 8 On Your Side Strapped Transport Towing and Recovery began aggressively towing vehicles in the past week, with little to no notice.

“They towed my car on Sunday after 9 o’clock. That same night they had the police in here with them,” she said. “They were very aggressive when they showed up. Very unprofessional and now someone’s dead as a result. The park manager’s not returning anyone’s phone calls.”

Corey Gilliland’s wife’s vehicle was towed overnight for being parked on the grass, he said.

“[The property management company] knew that they were hostile. They knew that they were getting into fights with people and they still chose to do business with them. And now look what happened – somebody’s dead,” said Gilliland.

Stoll Manor’s Betsy Theriault provided a statement to News Channel 8 Thursday morning.

“The management of Stoll Manor is aware of the tragic incident that occurred on Monday at Strapped Transport Towing and Recovery.  Because this incident occurred outside of our property, and a Polk County Sheriff’s Department investigation continues, Stoll Manor has no comment at this time,” she wrote.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, a resident, Juan Barroso, 36, went to Strapped Towing in Mulberry to pick up his towed vehicle Monday evening.

An argument ensued between Barroso and the owner’s brother, Marshall Denn.

Marshall Denn, deputies say, repeatedly punched Barroso in the head.

Barroso responded by hitting Denn with his vehicle, according to authorities.

Then, the towing company owner, Michael Shane Denn, fatally shot Barroso as he was running away, according to deputies.

Denn was arrested on a second degree murder charge.

“The victim was no longer a threat to anyone at the scene, noting that he was running away from the suspect when he was allegedly shot by the suspect,” said Brian Toreky, a prosecutor with the state’s attorney’s office in virtual court Wednesday.

Michael Shane Denn during Wednesday’s first appearance hearing

At Denn’s first appearance Wednesday, his attorney argued he acted in self-defense.

“There is strong evidence just within the probable cause affidavit for the claiming of justifiable use of force and stand your ground,” said Andrew Draper, an attorney.

A judge ordered Denn to be held on no bond.

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