Neighbor of home at center of deadly manhunt seeks compensation
SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- The man who lived next door to the suspected marijuana grow house at the center of the manhunt that claimed two lives and rattled a South Florida community, is waiting to hear whether he will receive compensation for the extensive damage done to his home.
"It's devastating, I started my family here," said Daniel Sosa. The homeowner's residence became a hideout to Brian Howell, one of the three men authorities were chasing after they exchanged gunfire with police Tuesday night.
Officials were able to apprehend Howell in Sosa's home, but the house sustained interior damage for which he believes he should not be responsible. "Come on, I want to show you ground zero," Sosa said as he led the way to show the area that was most affected. Ceilings have been cut, and there's a hole in a wall.
"This is my first home, I had my first child here," Sosa said, "I have beautiful memories here, and it's quite sad." According to Sosa, Miami-Dade police officers who came in searching for Howell are the ones responsible for the damage.
Detectives said they eventually found Howell, 29, hiding above the cupboards in Sosa's laundry room. Police said the suspect hid in Sosa's home after he shot at officers and set a suspected grow house on fire. "This individual is obviously a very dangerous man," said Det. Javier Baez. "Our goal is to apprehend at whatever cost necessary," he added.
Sosa insists he's not mad at police. "They did their job, and I'm glad they're protecting us," he said. Nevertheless, he would like someone to pay for what they did to his home. Sosa revealed his insurance won't cover the damage.
Baez said Sosa needs to call the county's Risk Management Department. Representatives of the department told 7News if a citizen like Sosa claims a county employee damaged his property, it will send an investigator to survey. That person will determine if the county needs to pay Sosa for repairs. The law stipulates that if an officer damages property and is effectively doing his or her job, then the local government is not responsible for the damage.
Howell bonded out of jail Friday night. He was being held on a drug trafficking charge.
When asked what happened at the house once it caught on fire, Howell responded, "I have no idea, I wasn't at the house at the time." When asked how he got bruises on his face, he said, "I'd rather not say at this time."
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