Tall tale or an excuse to pull off a home invasion to pay back smugglers for sneaking a man over the border into the U.S.?
Police in a small Florida town that bills itself as "Friendly City" aren't sure what to believe yet. All Mascotte police in Lake County, a part of the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area of Florida, know at this time is that a man who calls himself "Samuel Hernandez" broke into a woman's home in Mascotte.
Once inside, he tried to stab her with a large knife when she screamed. The woman's husband and brother-in-law grabbed him and held him down Saturday night, according to a Fox News report.
Eric Pedersen, Mascotte's chief of police, told Fox that he was informed by Border Patrol that the name "Samuel Hernandez" was likely false and that the man could be facing more than just the charges of attempted murder, home-invasion robbery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery using a deadly weapon and possession of burglary tools he already faces.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
The man was arrested just after midnight Sunday and remained at Lake County Jail Tuesday night with a bail set at $330,000. He is 32 and his address is listed as "transient, Mascotte," according to the Mascotte Police Department's booking report.
"Hernandez" told investigators he was following orders from smugglers who sneaked him into the U.S. from Mexico, while blindfolded, after he traveled from Guatemala to "pursue a better life," according to the Daily Commercial.
But the man told police he met some men while in Mexico who said they would smuggle him, along with 15 other men, over the border for 10,000 Mexican pesos ($522) apiece. According to "Hernandez," he said they told him he could repay the debt he could not afford by doing some "work" for them.
That "work" included pulling off a robbery, WIRK reported.
“He was given a task to enter a home and to take anything of value. The traffickers dropped him off at this address where he would carry out this task. The traffickers armed him with two knives and told him that if things did not go as planned, he was to either run out of the house or take someone’s life to ensure he carries out the mission,” Pedersen told the Daily Commercial.
According to police, the suspect cut a screen on the side of the house and entered through a patio, which startled the woman, who screamed and fought off her attacker before her husband and brother-in-law subdued and held "Hernandez."
She suffered wounds to her hands.
"Her husband and the other occupant in the house took care of business," Pedersen told Fox News. "There's no telling what this guy would have done. ... It’s a very interesting story. Especially in this political climate."
"Hernandez" has a court date set for Aug. 8.