By David Propper
Florida authorities arrested 19 squatters last week after they allegedly destroyed a vacant motel, creating a “really atrocious scene” and causing $15,000 in damages.
The squatters were charged with trespassing at a former Budget Inn in Gainesville where police have responded to dozens of times in the past, WCJB reported.
“This time there were a lot of people there, a lot of damage to the facilities. They had broken into the utilities. There was an enormous amount of drug paraphernalia and alcohol,” county spokesperson Mark Sexton told the Gainesville Sun.
“It was just a really atrocious scene that we found.”
It took three hours for the local sheriff’s department to clear 36 rooms, including some that were barricaded from the inside, the newspaper reported.
A minor was in one room without a legal guardian.
The day before, Lee County Sheriff’s officials arrested another suspected squatter, Emmanuel Pierre, 25, after he allegedly broke into a home, WINK reported.
Pierre allegedly cooked in the kitchen, drove a car in the driveway, and even set up a console to play videogames in a bedroom, authorities said.
The homeowner reportedly came back to the house after he received alerts that the temperature on his smart thermostat had changed.
He called 911 when he saw the house was broken into before finding the alleged squatter behind the wheel of his car, the station reported.
The homeowner blocked Pierre from leaving until the sheriff’s office arrived.
Pierre was charged with burglary and stealing a car.