Spring Hill Man Accused of Beating 71-Year Old Man
Neighbors and surveillance tapes confirmed the man was beaten with a stick, according to Hernando sheriff’s deputies.
SPRING HILL – A Spring Hill man was arrested in connection with the beating of a 71-year-old Asian man, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said.
Lee Michael Petit, 21, of Spring Hill, was charged with one count each of strong arm robbery and battery on a person 65 or older.
The man who was beaten was taken to a hospital for treatment of his injuries.
Just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 1), Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies said they were dispatched to the area of 6917 Treehaven Drive in Spring Hill after dispatchers received calls regarding a large group of people beating an elderly man. The elderly man was reportedly bleeding from his face.
Upon arrival, deputies contacted the person who called 9-1-1. The caller told them that she saw a large crowd of people standing around an elderly Asian man in the roadway. She then saw two men striking and pushing the victim while two women pushed the man’s bicycle.
The caller said she feared for the elderly man’s life, so she pulled to the side of the road and contacted 9-1-1. After being notified that “law enforcement was on the way,” all suspects fled the area.
Deputies said they thoroughly searched the area and were able to find the individuals who battered the elderly man.
Deputies interviewed two women who were near the scene. Both women told deputies that the elderly man approached them and asked them to “call the cops.”
Deputies then spoke with a neighbor, Joshua Rhoades, who told them hatt while they were leaving his residence, they saw “a random guy digging through the neighbor’s trash.” Rhoades went on to say that he and his buddy, Lee Petit, asked the elderly man what he was doing. According to Rhoades, the elderly male then “came at them” and began yelling at them in an unknown language, eventually throwing trash in Rhoades’ yard.
Rhoades told deputies that the man went toward the front of the residence and “began messing with our stuff.” Rhoades said he told the elderly male to leave the property at least four times. When the elderly man did not leave, deputies said Rhoades told them he took the man’s bicycle and started to walk it off the property.
Rhoades told deputies that while removing the bicycle from the property, the elderly male “flattened my mailbox” and “whipped out a stick,” all the while attacking Petit. Rhoades said that Petit defended himself, but would not elaborate.
Rhoades said that he did not strike, nor had he been struck by the elderly man and that all he and Petit wanted was for the man to leave the property – but the man began attacking them.
Deputies said they then spoke with Petit who said he and Rhoades watched the man digging through his trash cans, which were located next to the house, near the front door. Petit told deputies that, after the man refused to leave the property he forcefully removed him by walking the bicycle down the driveway towards the road. Petit said the man then produced a “metal stick” and began striking Petit with it. Petit said he found another stick and defended himself.
Petit told deputies the man bashed the mailbox down with the metal stick. When deputies confronted Petit about the tire tracks across the actual mailbox and on the ground around the base of the mailbox, Petit recanted his story. Deputies said Rhoades also recanted his version of the story regarding how the mailbox got knocked down.
Petit then told deputies he stuck the elderly male with a stick, only after being struck by the elderly male first. He went on to say that he used the mailbox stand to “create distance” and to strike the elderly man.
Petit said the incident occurred in his yard and also in the street in front of his home. When asked why witnesses reported the incident as having happened down the street, Petit said, “They don’t know what they saw.”
Deputies said they then tried to speak with the man, but he spoke little English. Deputies noted that he had a large cut across his right eyelid, and blood running down his face. Several abrasions were noted on his face, hands, and the inside of his right leg. The man was take to a local hospital by Hernando County Fire Rescue.
After several failed attempts at using a language interpreter to communicate with him, deputies were able to find a family member who came to the hospital and translated Mandarin to English.
The man told deputies that he was on his bicycle in the area of Pinehurst Drive when he was attacked by strangers for no apparent reason. He said he was looking at a piece of carpet that was on the side of the road when he was approached by two strangers in a vehicle. When the strangers began yelling at him, he tried to walk away. The strangers got out of their car and ran toward him.
One of the strangers had a stick, so the man pulled out a small metal pipe to defend himself. Petit started striking the man with the stick, then threw a large plant pot at him.
At this time, the man became separated from his bicycle.
The man said he tried several times to get on his bicycle and leave but the strangers would not allow it. During the incident, the man was punched several times and had several items thrown at him. One of the two strangers took his bicycle and threw it down the road. Deputies said the man told them he was calling for help the entire time, but it appeared that no one heard him.
Deputies said the man confirmed that Petit was the only one who struck him and the only one who deprived him of his bicycle.
Neighbors in the area corroborated the elderly man’s version of the story and provided video surveillance footage to the deputies. The surveillance video also confirmed the man’s version of the events, deputies said.
After speaking with witnesses and reviewing video surveillance, deputies arrested Petit.
Hernando Sheriff | Crime | Arrests | Tampabay News
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