Pasco SO investigate 'potential terrorist'; find no terrorism ties

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After saying his office was investigating the suspect from an incident at a New Port Richey home as a "potential terrorist," Pasco County sheriff Chris Nocco says - so far - investigators have found no terrorist ties.

The FBI, ATF, and Homeland Security were at the home Wednesday investigating what Nocco called a "potential terrorist" after deputies were called to the home of a concerned mother. But so far in the investigation, they have found no links to terrorism. 

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco gave details of the incident that began when 21-year-old Sherif Elganainy's father had to be taken to the hospital for a medical concern Wednesday morning from the Summertree subdivision in New Port Richey. 

In an update to the press on Thursday Sheriff Nocco said they had found no evidence that Elganainy has ties to terrorism. However, Nocco stressed that Elganainy is "a very dangerous person."

Nocco said Elgainany's mother has expressed concerns to us that when he gets upset he says he is a terrorist or part of ISIS

Elganainy's mother later told Pasco County deputies Sherif became violent with his parents after being questioned about a strange smell and items they found around the apartment shared by the three. 

After Sherif accompanied his father to the hospital, his mother called a relative to say she was afraid to be alone with Sherif. That relative called law enforcement that went to the home. Sherif's mother told deputies about the domestic incident with her son, and her concern about things she found in the home. 

That's when Sherif returned home from the hospital. Nocco said Sherif "violently" attacked deputies and tried to get their guns away from them. They managed to take him into custody, but one deputy came out with a broken hand and another suffered a head injury. They were both taken to the hospital. 

"They were basically in a fight for [their] lives," Sheriff Nocco explained during a news conference Wednesday evening. "Don't put your hands on a Pasco deputy. Bad things will happen."

Sherif Elganainy was taken to the hospital.

Afterward deputies said they found the same smell the mother reported, and were working on a search warrant. The Hillsborough County Bomb Squad, Pasco Fire Rescue and Pasco Emergency Management were on the scene to help conduct the search.

"There are materials in there that give us concern," Nocco said. "His actions, statements that he's made, previous things that have occurred in this house, that have now been reported today to us, give us a lot of concern."

Nocco thanked the community and multiple agencies who were helping on the scene. 

He faces two counts of domestic violence, one count of battery on a law enforcement officer and two counts of resistance with violence. He also has been arrested in the past in Osceola County for domestic battery - strangulation, as well as having a "lengthy" juvenile history, Nocco said. 

"We are doing everything we can to protect you. All the citizens are safe right now," Nocco said. 

When asked about terrorist threats, the sheriff said he couldn't say specifically, but said, "This guy could have been a potential terrorist." However the next day, the sheriff announced that no ties to terrorism had been found during the investigation. 

But that doesn't mean the investigation is over. Nocco says "we are looking at it from every angle." 

Nocco said, "You look around the world, you see what happened in Germany, you see what happens across this country, across the world. You know, the information we have, we're not just going to look at the other way. We're going to keep digging. We're gonna keep finding, if there's anybody else involved, who might have known him, we're going to keep working this investigation. But we have citizens' lives at risk. We have people who are nervous, and I can tell you, don't be nervous. We have the situation under control. There are people that make statements, that take actions, that want to do harm. We're going to do everything we can to stop them."