CRESTVIEW, Fla. (WKRG) — A 65-year-old man in Crestview is still not able to go back inside his home nearly a week after the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office fired tear gas through his windows leaving everything contaminated.
Gary Johnson and the News 5 crew had to wear protective masks to go inside his home on CB Drive right off of Old Bethel Road because the residue left behind can cause burning and itching in your nose and throat.
“Everything in here is contaminated,” Johnson said.
Johnson showed the holes in the walls and windows. The tear gas residue caused him to leave after just a couple minutes. The sheriff’s office originally told Johnson he would be able to return to his house after 48 hours.
“I’m going back outside..because I can’t hardly breathe,” he said.
The sheriff’s office said they had “solid information” that Johnson’s grandson, Tony Byrd, was inside on July 16 but he was never found. Johnson said Byrd was never there and that he doesn’t stay in contact with his grandson. Byrd is a person of interest in a murder in Crestview July 8. He also has warrants from the sheriff’s office for trafficking methamphetamine.
“I’m upset,” Johnson said. “I’m hurt. I’m disgusted and I’m angry because i think there could’ve been a better way to do that.”
Melissa Cartwright and Johnson go to dialysis together three times a week and have become good friends. She and her husband James are helping him the best they can.
“He does all kinds of things for the community,” Melissa said. “In fact, for Thanksgiving, he fed over 500 people from Eglin AFB who could not take off and could not go home.”
Many News 5 viewers have reached out offering help to Johnson. Any calls to help can be made to Johnson directly at (850) 826-5908.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has defended its actions issuing the following statement to News 5: “It’s unfortunate but was unavoidable based on the solid information we had that Byrd was there and apparently he just barely managed to get out minutes before our arrival. Due to the nature of our warrants and the Crestview PDs murder investigation, we obtained a search warrant and were compelled to do all we could to get this dangerous man off the streets.”
Read the initial story here.