HUDSON, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area mother says she experienced 26 minutes of terror recently. During half of that nightmare, Lauren Richards was forced to hold an alleged intruder at gunpoint.
The incident happened in Rolling Oaks Estates in Hudson in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 25. The accused intruder, 25-year-old Devin Cooke, lives nearby, according to a PCSO incident report.
Surveillance video shows an armed neighbor trying to help before deputies arrived at the scene.
Neighbors say that’s when deputies went back to the house and for the first time, they took official witness statements and pictures of the scene. According to an incident report, that occurred on Wednesday, May 29.
A PCSO spokesperson tells 8 On Your Side Cooke will face a felony burglary charge once he is released from a medical facility. The 25-year-old was taken in for a mental health evaluation, as per a prior court order.
In total, three 911 calls were made to dispatch during the incident.
The first 911 call was made at 12:41 in the morning.
“I tell them somebody just came into my door,” said Richards. “He’s unfamiliar, I don’t recognize him.”
While waiting for help, Richards was staring out towards the garage. She said she noticed Milton, her pet pig, starting to act up.
“His nose immediately goes to the ground, he picks up a scent,” said Richards. “Which means the man has either been in my garage or is in my garage.”
Fearing the man was about to break into her home through the garage, Richards did something risky.
“You’re in the doorway, and he’s standing right there?” asked 8 On Your Side investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi.
“Yes, he is about 8 feet from me approximately,” said Richards.
That’s when Richards says she noticed the garage door that’s always open had been shut. She screamed, opened the garage door and called 911 again for a second time.
The second call was made at 12:54 in the morning.
“I have a gun pointed and I need the police to show up immediately,” said Richards on the 911 call. “I called 10 minutes ago and nobody has shown up.”
The terrifying scene would continue for 13 more minutes before the first PCSO deputy arrived at the scene at 1:07 in the morning.
Richards can be heard asking dispatch about the deputies estimated time of arrival multiple times.
“They just said you’re priority, they’re coming lights and sirens,” said dispatch.
Richards continued to confront the intruder as the stakes got higher.
Another neighbor, Melodie Nieves, also called 911. Richards had contacted her about the intruder as well. Melodie’s husband Hector grabbed his gun to assist Richards.
“I want to make sure the cops know my husband went over there with a gun over there to protect her,” said Nieves to dispatch.
8 On Your Side spoke with Mr. Nieves about the ordeal.
“I’m just like I gotta help, you know,” he said. “She’s got little kids. We held him at gunpoint until the cops showed up.”
8 On Your Side is investigating after the community said PCSO deputies took too long to arrive at the scene. Pasco County oversees 911 communications. They say Richards’ first 911 call was categorized as a suspicious person.
According to the county, the recent average response time for such a call is around 10 minutes and 31 seconds. But in this incident, it was 26 minutes.
Richards had to wait two and a half times longer. Richards’ second call described a burglary in progress.
The recent average response time in this situation is six minutes and nine seconds.
Richards waited 13 minutes for help, twice as long.
“Had she not had a gun and been ready to protect herself or call the neighbors, she might be standing here cause who knows what would happen,” said Mrs. Nieves.
A report from the PCSO identifies the intruder as Devin Cooke. In a report, deputies state Cooke was “under the impression that his grandparents were murdered and distraught.”
Citing an active Ex Parte order, Cooke was transported for a mental health evaluation.
Richards has obtained a temporary order of protection against Cooke.
In the meantime, the community tells 8 On Your Side they want Cooke fully prosecuted, and they want deputies to get there faster next time.
A PCSO spokesperson said their goal is always to respond as fast as possible. They note the county is very diverse and large. They also state that once they got a call about the garage break-in, they switched into emergency mode.
8 On Your Side is closely examining body camera video of the incident. We will continue to dig on this story.