‘Lawful but awful’: Man fires 30 rounds at his pool cleaner after mistaking him for thief

Man was servicing pools late into the evening because company was behind, sheriff says

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – A Florida man is avoiding charges thanks to the castle doctrine after firing 30 shots from his rifle at the family’s pool cleaner.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said Bradley Hocevar, 57, was home with his wife, Jana Hocevar, 43, when they heard noises and saw a man on their pool deck around 9:15 p.m. on June 15.

It turns out the man was 33-year-old pool technician Karl Polek who had come to service their pool but he hadn’t notified the family that he would be coming by so late and they mistook him for an intruder.

Jana and Bradley told the man to go away several times but Polek continued servicing the pool, seemingly unaware anyone was yelling at him.

That’s when Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says Jana called 911 and Bradley grabbed his Colt M-4 carbine rifle from the couple’s bedroom.

Gualtieri said Bradley took position behind the couch with the rifle, which had a fully loaded 30-round magazine.

“All they know is that she [Jana] clearly saw a guy out there, heard noise, saw the guy coming toward the window, the blinds are shut, he had yelled at the guy to go away but the person was clearly still there,” said Gualtieri. “At that point, he saw a flashlight coming toward the doors as if the person with the flashlight was coming into the house.”

That’s when Gualtieri says Bradley fired his rifle twice.

Polek was transported to the hospital with minor injuries after being struck by shrapnel from the glass of the door but Gualtieri said during a press conference that Polek wasn’t shot directly.

Gualtieri says surveillance video of the pool area, which can be seen in the media player above, shows Polek run away as glass shards fly from the window. Jana’s 911 call can also be heard in the video.

He then says Bradley believed he could still hear noises out back and fired his rifle two more times, emptying the magazine, despite Polek having already run off.

“In total Bradley Hocevar fired 30 rounds from the rifle in about 90 seconds,” Gualtieri said.

The sheriff said Polek had been in the area servicing pools late into the evening because the company was behind but added that the pool technician didn’t knock on the door or notify anyone that he would be servicing the pool so late.

Based on the investigation, Gualtieri stated Bradley was acting within the law when he fired his weapon, calling the incident an “unfortunate set of circumstances.”

“In hindsight, he should have probably let them know he was coming at 9 o’clock at night, yet he made no effort to contact them at all,” Gualtieri said.

He referred to the shooting as “lawful but awful. It’s lawful but it’s just an awful set of circumstances.”

Gualtieri said the couple realized the person was their pool cleaner when they went out front to meet police following Jana’s 911 call and saw the pool truck.

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