A Florida sheriff who encouraged homeowners to shoot intruders to "save the taxpayers money" was lambasted by Florida defense attorneys, who are accusing him of offering "wildly irresponsible" advice that could cause needless loss of life and aggravate racial tensions, NPR reports. Santa Rosa Sheriff Bob Johnson discussed the arrest of Brandon Harris, who was wanted on multiple warrants. Harris leapt fences and broke into houses before jumping headfirst out a window, where he was apprehended. Johnson noted that in one of the four houses Harris broke into, a homeowner shot at him and missed. The sheriff had a message for that person: "I guess they think that they did something wrong, which they did not. If somebody's breaking into your house, you're more than welcome to shoot them in Santa Rosa County. We prefer that you do, actually."
"So whoever that was, you're not in trouble," Johnson added. "Come see us. We have a gun safety class we put on every other Saturday. And if you take that, you'll shoot a lot better and hopefully you'll save the taxpayers money." Johnson's advice is legally accurate, said several criminal defense attorneys. Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law lets people use deadly force to prevent a forcible felony, including home invasion. The intruder doesn't need to have a weapon. Some attorneys were aghast at how brazen Johnson was in seeming to delight in a potentially needless death. It's easy to envision a situation where Johnson's advice could lead to disastrous results, said Andrew Metcalf, a criminal defense lawyer. For Johnson to put that notion in people's heads could lead to a parent shooting their daughter as she sneaks home late at night, or a teenager who asks his friend to sneak into the house.