A Flagler County homeowner was arrested after allegedly discharging an AR-15 when he asserted that a U.S. Census employee was trespassing on his property.
32-year-old Michael Cooper lives in a home on a piece of land in Bunnell, Florida.
Around 6:00 pm on October 5, Cooper was reportedly returning to his house to clean crabs that he caught.
A man driving a truck pulled up to the property and walked toward the residence.
When Cooper spotted the stranger, he explained that he was the owner of the land. He additionally told the man that he was trespassing and needed to leave.
The man reportedly identified himself as a government employee, but Cooper allegedly continued to assert that he was breaking the law by trespassing on his property.
As the Census worker walked back to his truck, Cooper reportedly retrieved an AR-15 from inside his home and fired the weapon into the air.
After reaching his vehicle and driving away, the Census worker, whose wife was in the truck with him at the time of the incident, notified the authorities to report what had allegedly transpired.
Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies dispatched to Cooper’s residence and spoke with the man about his alleged behavior toward the Census worker.
Cooper, who was recorded on a body-worn camera, can be heard stating that the man did not announce that he worked for the government. He added that he has a “no trespassing” sign posted and that he believed the man was breaking the law.
When discussing the gunfire, Cooper said he waited until the man drove away before shooting into the air, and assured the deputy that he does not keep loaded weapons in the residence.
The Census employee and onlooking neighbors’ accounts of the event reportedly did not match what Cooper told the authorities.
The employee said that the gun was fired while his back was turned and he was walking back to his truck and that Cooper pointed it at him and led him the rest of the way.
The neighbors also reported to the police that they could see the truck was marked, and that the employee was wearing a badge as he walked up to Cooper’s home.
After it was explained to Cooper that a Census worker is not required to obey a trespassing sign, the man was handcuffed and placed under arrest.
Cooper is facing charges for suspicion of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to cause harm, and he was incarcerated on $7,500 bail.
If you or someone you love is suspected of an assault with a deadly weapon offense, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.