Knife-wielding intruder arrested after hospital release

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – A man was arrested Tuesday for a burglary committed last week where he was shot by the homeowner.

Detectives following up on this case caught up with 25-year-old Steven Craycraft at his girlfriend’s home in High Springs after he was released from the hospital.  He was subsequently arrested for armed burglary and violation of probation.

Craycraft was booked into the Columbia County Detention Facility on the charges with no bond.

The knife-wielding intruder was shot in the leg Thursday night by a Columbia County homeowner, deputies said.

Authorities said it appears Craycraft broke-into the home to rob the homeowner, for whom he had previously done work.

The sheriff’s office said Craycraft has a lengthy criminal history, with mugshots from five different arrests dating back to May of 2012. His arrests were for various offenses including burglary, trespassing, larceny, and vehicle theft.

Alberto Casola, 63, told deputies with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) he heard someone forcing their way into his home on Southeast August Glen around 8 p.m. Thursday night and he armed himself with a pistol and fired.

Casola told deputies he saw a figure in his darkened living room and fired one shot at the intruder. He said he didn’t know if the intruder was armed and hid in the bathroom…he then heard the intruder drop something and fall to the floor. Investigators later found the object the man dropped was a knife.

When Casola speeked out to check the intruder's condition, he said the man got up and ran out, leaving a blood trail. Casola immediately called 911.

Deputies scouring the area found Craycraft, suffering from gunshot wound to his leg, in a yard on Southeast October Road.

Deputies alerted Fire Rescue and began first aid. Craycraft was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Casola owns a pecan business and has done work with Craycraft before. He believes Craycraft was trying to steal money used for the business. Casola said he lives alone, so he always stays protected.

“You have every right to protect yourself in your own home and that’s a personal decision,” said Murray Smith, public information officer, CCSO. “I would tell everyone if they want to take that kind of action, we’d prefer that you would call law enforcement, but let’s face it, we are not everywhere all the time, so in this case the individual felt he needed to protect himself, so that’s what he did.”

The sheriff’s office is still investigating this because the two were acquaintances and the nature of the situation. At this point, no charges have been filed.