Pembroke Pines eviction attempt leads to blaze, shooting

When a Broward sheriff’s deputy went to evict a homeowner, the man set the townhouse afire and was shot in an altercation with police.

Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald

By Latoya Burgess and Garret Franklyn

Published July 17, 2011

A Pembroke Pines man about to be evicted from his townhouse was hospitalized Friday after law enforcement officers shot him when he threatened to burn down the place.

Police Sgt. John Gazzano said the incident began around 11:15 a.m. when a Broward Sheriff’s deputy showed up and tried to remove a male resident from a townhome in the gated Hampton Isles community in the 700 block of Southwest 107th Avenue.

The man, later identified in local television reports as Allen Gauntlett, 52, a security guard and ex-Jamaican police officer, refused to come out. The deputy called Pembroke Pines for assistance, Gazzano said.

“Our units were en route when the deputy called Pembroke Pines police to say the subject was setting his house on fire,” Gazzano said.

Then, more chaos erupted.

Officers fired multiple shots, leaving Gauntlett with life-threatening wounds, according to officials. He was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood where he underwent surgery later Friday.

Records from the Broward County Clerk of Courts show Gauntlett had fallen behind on monthly condo fees on the townhouse and the Hampton Isles condo board filed suit against him on Jan. 5, 2010. The case was assigned to Broward Circuit Judge Michele Towbin.

Those county records also show Allen G. Gauntlett and Audrey C. Gauntlett paid more than $8,000 in three checks to the condo board on Tuesday, but it was apparently too late in the process to stop Friday’s eviction.

When a homeowner or tenant receives notice of a pending eviction, there is often an angry response, said BSO spokesman Jim Leljedal. But, by moving day, “they know that it’s coming,” he said

Evictions in Broward are generally handled by the sheriff’s office, Leljedal said. Deputies typically work alone, but “if they sense a problem, they can call for backup. That’s what happened in this case.”

Pembroke Pines police provided few details on what forced officers to shoot. Gauntlett has a concealed weapons permit, but it was unknown whether he had a weapon at the time of the shooting.

As firefighters and paramedics arrived at the complex, south of Pines Boulevard and east of Hiatus Road, they saw flames and smoke coming from the townhouse. They quickly put out the fire, which was contained to the two-bedroom unit. Firefighters quickly searched for other occupants, but found none

The damage was described as “significant,” and estimated to be in excess $70,000, according to Tom Gallagher, spokesman for the Pembroke Pines Fire Department.

“The windows are broken and all black,” Gazzano said.

The city’s fire prevention bureau and the state fire marshal will continue to investigate the blaze

Neighbor Manuel Reyes said he saw Gauntlett push an officer and the officer opened fire.

Other residents in the subdivision were stunned to find out about the shooting. Those coming in were told to park across the street and walk into the community.