Deputies: Trash-burning Lakeland man threatened firefighters, sheriff

- Deputies in Polk County said they spent yesterday looking for the man who started a bonfire in his yard – despite the county’s burn ban – and then threatened firefighters who arrived on scene and pledged to “put a bullet” in Sheriff Grady Judd's head.

The scene unfolded along Christy Lane in Lakeland yesterday morning. Neighbors called Polk County Fire Rescue about a grass fire at the home just after 6 a.m. When firefighters arrived, they spotted William Anderson tending a bonfire and warned him that he was in violation of the county’s ban on fires.

Initially, they say, Anderson told them he was burning trash and that they could extinguish the flames, but later told them to get off his property and, with a possible weapon in his hand, threatened to shoot all of them.  He also told firefighters he would “put a bullet in Grady’s head” – meaning, firefighters believe, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

"It warms my heart," Judd told FOX 13 jokingly. "I know I'm on their mind whenever they do that."

The firefighters backed off and called deputies, who did not get any answer at the door. After firing tear gas into the home, they broke down the door but did not find anyone inside. 

Neighbors who spoke with FOX 13 did not seem surprised. Tony Bamberg said Anderson is known for his bizarre behavior. He says Anderson was out front with his lawnmower just a few days ago.

"The mower wasn't working. He was making the mower noises with his own voice," Bamberg recalled. "He obviously needs some psychiatric treatment."

Firefighters, meanwhile, were finally able to extinguish the fire. They say Anderson appeared to be burning glass bottles, aerosol cans, and a DVD player.

Deputies caught up with the 58-year-old later in the day.  They say he's facing several charges, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A judge set his bond at $6, 250.

The burn ban has been in place for several days because of the dry weather and low humidity.  Several large brush fires have broken out around the state, threatening homes and closing roads.

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