Suspect denied bond after targeting Hernando Detention Center
According to an arrest report released Monday, the man accused of twice targeting the Hernando County Detention Center with a vehicle in the last two weeks admitted he's trying to hurt law enforcement.
Michael Roberts, 31, was booked into jail Sunday evening and charged with three counts of threatening to harm a public servant and two counts of criminal mischief after a crash earlier that day.
"It's obvious he had intent to hurt somebody and he didn't mince words that he was not happy with law enforcement," Sheriff Al Nienhuis told FOX 13. "He was definitely trying to, if not hurt a specific person, at least do some significant damage."
At around 11 a.m., deputies responded to the corner of Spring Hill Drive and Air Commerce Boulevard after a SUV had slammed into a rock barrier and ruptured a two-inch natural gas line.
Hernando County Fire Rescue quickly covered the vehicle with foam to prevent it from catching fire, and the sheriff's office shut down Spring Hill Drive. The Citrus County Bomb Squad was briefly called in for assistance but investigators found nothing dangerous.
Deputies questioned Roberts after he was taken to the hospital, and learned about his arrest on July 27. That's when, according to investigators, Roberts sped across the jail lawn, nearly hitting a patrol car, while taking out a bench, some landscaping and an officers' memorial before smashing into a flag pole. The incident was recorded by a surveillance camera.
After he was taken in to custody Sunday, Roberts detailed some of his motives to deputies.
In the arrest report, detectives wrote that Roberts has "a strong hatred for all law enforcement" that dates back to his previous arrests between 2003 and 2007, during which Roberts told them he feels he was mistreated by jail personnel.
The report also indicates Roberts he feels he's harassed by law enforcement.
The detectives went on to write that Roberts admitted the July 27 crash on the jail lawn was intentional and was "retaliation."
"Every day in law enforcement, just when we think we've seen it all, something new comes along," the sheriff said Monday.
Nienhuis said Roberts' actions Sunday could have killed someone.
"In this case it was really scary," he said. "He hit a natural gas line and it started leaking and it's really by the grace of God that it didn't catch fire and make a situation that was already bad - much, much worse."
Diane Maner, Roberts' aunt, told FOX 13 her nephew shouldn't have been able to post bond after his arrest two weeks ago.
"I think the first time he got arrested they should have kept him there because he does have a mental problem," Maner said. "Any time anyone go to a jailhouse and ride around premises like that, then something is wrong, but they didn't see that."
The sheriff didn't discuss the suspect's possible mental health issues, but did say there's a reason Roberts was able to post bond.
"That's always a concern, and in America, you're innocent until proven guilty. Even if there's video, you're considered innocent," Nienhuis said. "In hindsight, should he have been let out? No, he shouldn't have, now that we know. But unfortunately the judge can't see into the future. Nor can we."
Maner just hopes her nephew gets the help he needs.
"He's a nice person, very quiet person," she said. "I hope he gets better. I'm praying for him."
Roberts was also charged in an unrelated illegal discharge of a firearm warrant from the Brooksville Police Department.
Because of the most recent incidents, bond on his July arrest has been revoked. He will not be able to try to get out of jail for at least two weeks, at which point he will have his next court appearance.