POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A home burglary suspect is behind bars thanks to some help from a few residents in a Winter Haven neighborhood, police say.
According to police, a homeowner on Palm Lane in Winter Haven was inside his home around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday when 26-year-old Dominique Rashad Rogers stepped onto the porch area of the home and then walked into the living area uninvited. When Rogers got inside the home, officers say he immediately attacked the homeowner, grabbing him by the torso and they started to struggle as they fell to the floor.
Winter Haven police say another person inside the home ran outside to a neighbor, frantically yelling for help, and the neighbor called 911.
“Oh, it was very scary!” said Barb Gurgir, who had just moved into a mobile home at Cypress Shores mobile home park in Winter Haven this week.
Gurgir said she and her friend she calls “Reggie,” the homeowner, were sitting at the kitchen table when they heard a loud noise.
Her friend opened the door and saw a man he didn’t recognize.
“[He] pushed Reggie into the house. It was a home invasion,” Gurgir said.
In the meantime, the homeowner was able to break free from Rogers. After grabbing his personal firearm, he went back to the area where Rogers had been but, at that point, police say Rogers had already escaped and made it outside.
“It was pretty scary. I just knew I had to protect myself and I wanted to protect my friend too, that’s why I went next door,” Gurgir said.
When Rogers ran outside, neighbors were able to grab him and held him down until officers arrived, according to the Winter Haven Police Department.
“I think that’s great. I wouldn’t have wanted him to be on the loose out there,” Gurgir said.
“I’ve been here seven years and never witnessed nothing like this,” said Dean Turner.
Turner said he heard a loud knock on his door while he was taking a nap.
By the time he was fully awake, he came outside to see neighbors had Rogers on the ground.
“That impresses me. I don’t know which ones it was but it really impresses me,” he said.
Winter Haven Police Chief David Brannan said the quick action taken by the neighbors prevented anyone getting hurt from an escalation.
“It could have been another person and it may have been worse if it might have been somebody more elderly who couldn’t’ have defended themselves,” said Chief Brannan.
The homeowner suffered minor injuries and was treated by EMS on the scene. No one else was injured during the incident.
Rogers was taken into custody and booked into the Polk County Jail on charges of burglary with battery and burglary of an occupied structure.
According to Florida Department of Corrections records, Rogers was released from prison in November 2020 after serving two years for drug-related charges.