Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Carmel on the Case: Process Server Scare
From the mass murder of children to fatal fights over minor disagreements, there's plenty of fuel for the debate over gun control. But one South Florida worker wishes a man with a gun had more control over himself. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- There was only one thing Willie Wiggins says he was thinking as a 9 mm gun was pointed at his face, inches from his forehead.
Willie Wiggins: "All I thought about was my family. Oh my God, I mean, right now, I get emotional thinking about it. The last words that they ever heard from me was, 'Hey, have a good day in school, I love you,' and that hurts, really hurts."
Wiggins is a process server, delivering legal documents like lawsuits and divorce documents. Wiggins tried to serve papers in Margate that involved business loans.
Willie Wiggins: "As the door opened, I was greeted with a weapon in my face, and the statement was made, 'What part of I don't want to be disturbed don't you understand?'"
Wiggins, who was not armed, says he backed away, and the door closed. The homeowner, 59-year-old Jeffrey Reininger, told police the person knocking was harassing him.
According to the police report, he agreed to let officers search his home, where he showed them a variety of different guns, including a 9 mm pistol. It was fully loaded, with a bullet in the chamber.
Reininger was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill. Wiggins says he isn't so sure.
Willie Wiggins: "I realistically felt fear for my life, because with everything going on with guns, and people with guns, you just never know what's going to happen. I mean, I could have been a statistic."
Delivering bad news for a living is not for the faint of heart.
Deputy Ken Kerrigan: "I've personally experienced individuals opening up their door and letting their dogs out at me."
Deputy Ken Kerrigan is with the Broward Sheriff's Office Civil Division. It serves court orders like evictions and restraining orders, and it can make for a volatile situation.
Deputy Ken Kerrigan: "Now, when you knock on their door to serve them a paper, or to enforce an eviction or such, you've increased that risk by engaging these people at perhaps the worst time in their life."
An online search reveals cases across the country of process servers being attacked, or even killed. Back in 1978, BSO Deputy Robert Milligan was shot and killed serving an eviction notice. Wiggins is grateful to be alive.
Willie Wiggins: "To know that my life could have been gone right there, because I don't know who this guy is, I don't know what his intentions were."
Now it's a concern Wiggins no doubt will have every time he knocks on a door.
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