The serene tranquility of Saturday morning was quickly disrupted for one Marco Island family just before 5 AM on June 16.
The Halaschak household at Caxambas Towers was startled awake by the sounds of an intruder in the parking area attempting to steal a kayak from the roof of a vehicle. The vehicle was parked on the condominium association property, located at the south end of the island.
At 4:50 AM, when the family heard the noise, Bernard (known as “Barney”) Halaschak shouted down from the balcony telling the subject to leave the property. When the subject failed to heed the request, Michael Halaschak ran down from his father Barney’s condominium to intercept the subject. Immediately after, armed with a shotgun, Barney followed his son Michael, as his wife called 911.
There the father and son confronted Jacob Johannesen, a 25-year-old male with no known local address, but with an address of Willow Road in Elmhurst, Illinois.
Johannesen wrestled the shotgun from Barney Halaschak and broke it against the building’s wall. He subsequently beat both Michael and Barney with the broken weapon. Michael engaged the subject and attempted to pull him away from his father, while Johannesen continued to kick Barney and beat on Michael. Both father and son were later transported to Physicians Regional Hospital for medical treatment.
The Marco Island Police Department received the call at 4:54 AM and responded. Arriving first at the scene was Marco Island Police Officer Jeffrey Strafford, who first checked on the victims and then proceeded to do a preliminary search. The subject had fled the scene prior to Strafford’s arrival. Second due officer, Sergeant Matt Goetz, called in for assistance from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) to have a K-9 unit sweep the area.
Other Marco Island police officers were directed by Sergeant Goetz to establish a perimeter in the area, as a search for the offender began with the dog. It was shortly after the search was initiated that the K-9 alerted its handler of Johannesen’s presence in the bushes. Officer Strafford engaged with Johannesen and attempted to subdue and handcuff him. Strafford cuffed one of Johannesen’s hands, but in the struggle, Strafford sustained an injury to his hand.
Due to the irrational and violent behavior of the subject, it was believed that he might have been under the influence of drugs. A second officer from Collier County also joined with Strafford in trying to physically subdue Johannesen before he had to be restrained through the use of a Taser device. This followed numerous, unheeded warnings to adhere to both officers’ commands.
Johannesen ripped out the prongs from Officer Strafford’s Taser, which required the CCSO deputy to utilize his own device to bring Johannesen into compliance.
The subject continued his uncooperative behavior during his transport to the jail. After medical clearance at NCH downtown, he was admitted into the Collier County Jail where he was charged with the following:
- Battery on a person over 65 years old
- Grand Theft ($300)
- Criminal Mischief ($200-$1,000)
- Resisting an Officer with Violence
On June 18, both Sergeant Goetz and Chief Albert Schettino commented on the events, saying they were relieved that it didn’t result in a loss of life or more serious injuries.
“Our officers demonstrated the professionalism and proficiency that you would expect of them while operating under extreme circumstances. This community can be proud of them and our sister agency, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office for that same level of expertise and proven effectiveness,” said Chief Schettino.
Sergeant Goetz reminded residents that the first line of defense regarding incidents such as this lies with them. “We rely on citizens as our eyes and ears out there. Please pick up the phone and dial 911. Don’t attempt to intercede by yourselves, for the results could be devastating to you and your family. We also ask you all to lock your vehicles, secure your valuables out of sight; don’t leave firearms in cars and don’t leave your keys there, you are just asking for trouble,” said Sergeant Goetz.
Both Schettino and Goetz once again urged residents to be aware of what is going on around them and to not be shy or hesitant to report suspicious activities. “After Hurricane Irma our officers have been especially vigilant regarding all the transient workers coming to the island to find work. Most are just fine, but others may be looking at taking advantage of a situation,” said Schettino.