“I was thinking, is this some kind of nutjob?” Nope. Just a totally tooled-up federal marshall in SWAT gear pointing a rifle and laser at Louise Goldsberry through her kitchen window. Because that’s always the best way to ascertain if the fugitive you’re looking for is inside. Goldsberry did pretty much what you’d expect her to do. She screamed, dropped to the floor and made a bee-line for her .38 revolver. That’s when the pounding at the front door of her apartment started . . .
Then, to the couple’s horror — and as Goldsberry huddled in the hallway with gun in hand — the front door they had thought was locked pushed open. A man edged around the corner and pointed a gun and a fiercely bright light at them, and yelled even more.
“Drop the f—— gun or I’ll f—— shoot you,” he shouted, then said it again and again, Goldsberry and (her boyfriend Craig) Dorris say.
Long horrifying story short, after a period of handcuffed confinement and gradually lowering adrenaline, it was finally determined that the fugitive who federal marshals and the Sarasota PD – two dozen or more – were looking for wasn’t in Goldsberry’s apartment.
The militarized marshal who lasered her – literally – through the window, and then was the first through her door was US Marshal Matt Wiggins. When asked by reporter Tom Lyons what brought on the home invasion and Ms. Goldsberry’s near-death experience, he said they’d gotten a tip that a child rapist was in the same complex.
The tip was never about Goldsberry’s apartment, specifically, Wiggins acknowledged. It was about the complex.
But when the people in Goldsberry’s apartment didn’t open up, that told Wiggins he had probably found the right door. No one at other units had reacted that way, he said.
Maybe none of them had a gun pointed at them through the kitchen window, I suggested. But Wiggins didn’t think that was much excuse for the woman’s behavior. He said he acted with restraint and didn’t like having that gun aimed at him.
“I went above and beyond,” Wiggins said. “I have to go home at night.”
Because it takes a Lex Luthor-like criminal mind to concoct a plan to knock on a door claiming to be police in order to get an occupant to open up.
Goldsberry was at home, I said. She had a gun pointed at her, too, and she wasn’t wearing body armor and behind a shield. She had no reason to expect police or think police would ever aim into her kitchen and cuss at her through her door to get in. It seemed crazy. She was panicked.
“We were clearly the police,” Wiggins insisted. “She can’t say she didn’t know.”
She does say so, actually.
“I couldn’t see them. They had a big light in my eyes,” Goldsberry said the next day. And that man she saw aiming a gun through her window had nothing visible that said “cop,” in her mind.
There are so many ways this could have gone wrong, there’s no point in detailing them here. We’re just glad Goldsberry wasn’t also a dog owner.
“I feel bad for her,” Wiggins conceded, finally. “But at the same time, I had to reasonably believe the bad guy was in her house based on what they were doing.”
True. Washing dishes in a sink is usually a surefire tip-off that someone’s harboring a sex criminal.
Goldsberry wasn’t arrested or shot despite pointing a gun at a cop, so Wiggins said, “She sure shouldn’t be going to the press.”
Sure hope her tax returns are in good order.