‘Target practice' turns scary for neighbors
Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 8:57 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 8:57 a.m.
The young couple were relaxing in the living room of their home on Southwest 69th Way watching a movie. At around 3 a.m., they heard a pop.
"Sounds like a flashbang," the startled woman said to her boyfriend, referring to a grenade used to stun, not kill.
"Sounds like sniper fire," said her boyfriend, who recognized the sound from the video games he likes to play.
He went to close their sliding glass door, and as he returned to the couch, there was another pop. This time, a sharp crack followed as a bullet crashed through the glass door and lodged in a wall.
They ran outside their Tower Oaks home and joined several neighbors in dialing 911. The couple, who declined to give their names as they described their ordeal, were not injured.
A short while later, Alachua County sheriff's deputies nabbed the man they say shot up the neighborhood in a pre-dawn bout of target shooting. He's a convicted felon named Pedro Peace III.
No one was injured in the half-dozen rounds that investigators say Peace fired in the fenced-in area of his house at 1901 SW 69th Drive using an DPMS semi-automatic rifle — a weapon similar to the military's M4.
His bullets cut a swath in the neighborhood of modest homes near the intersection of Tower Road and Southwest 24th Avenue. One hit a pickup about 75 feet away, flattening two tires and puncturing the gas tank, spewing fuel on the driveway.
Another went through a metal mailbox about 100 yards away from the truck.
And one went through the couple's glass door, about 200 yards from where Peace allegedly was standing.
The first call came in at 3:04, according to sheriff's spokesman Lt. Todd Kelly. Another one at 3:06, and intermittently after that.
Kelly said Sgt. Kathy Zedalis was nearby, and responded to the shooting at 3:15 a.m. She entered the couple's apartment and saw a bullet hole through the fence. Meantime, deputies set up a perimeter and evacuated neighbors.
Zedalis followed the bullet's trajectory to a mailbox, and then to the house from which Peace allegedly fired the gun. Using the P.A. system in their cars, deputies asked the people in the house to come out. Window blinds moved, but no one inside answered, so a SWAT team was called in, and there was a stand-off.
At around 7:30 a.m., three people surrendered, Kelly said — Peace III, his father, Pedro Peace Jr., and his father's girlfriend, Barbara Cuadrado.
Deputies detained the three and swept the house for additional people. They found a rifle in the attic and numerous shell casings in the backyard, Kelly said, but had to get a search warrant to re-enter the premises after the sweep.
Peace Jr. told deputies that his son was target practicing. Peace III told deputies, according to an arrest report, that his friends brought over a rifle. Peace III is a convicted felon for aggravated stalking in 2006 and in 2010 for being a habitual traffic offender.
During further investigation, deputies said they linked the rifle to a July burglary through matching serial numbers. The victim of the burglary, Kelly said, was Cuadrado's estranged husband.
Peace III was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, but Kelly said more charges are likely. Peace Jr. and Cuadrado were released. Peace III was being held without bail on Wednesday in the Alachua County jail, pending his first appearance before a judge.
The weapon used, an AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle, was the same type of gun used in the Aurora theater shooting in Colorado that left 12 people dead. At the M&C Army Surplus Store on U.S. 441, such a rifle sells for more than $1,000, and ammo is sold in packs as little as 20 for around $12. A sales associate at the store said the weapon is good for hunting small game, and the store doesn't sell many of them. He said the gun can fire seven rounds in about three seconds.
The boyfriend at the residence with the busted glass door said he wasn't angry at Peace III, but he was mad at the situation.
"My dogs sleep right there," he said as he pointed to the bullet's point of entry. "If he was sleeping there, he would've died. Then I would really be mad."