By Marcelle Dibrell
Better think twice about entering a customer’s backyard after dark — especially in Florida. Luckily, Karl Polek’s customer was not a good shot on the evening in question. Although the customer managed to pump 30 rounds from his AR-15, he didn’t hit much other than his own property. Nevertheless, the pool tech did sustain minor injuries as the bullets whizzed by.
It all happened on the evening of June 15. Polek, a 33-year-old pool service technician who was running late on his service rounds, entered the backyard of Bradley and Jana Hocevar.
Security footage from the Hocevars’ home shows the man preparing to clean their pool: He sets out his equipment, makes a few trips to his truck, and appears to be inspecting the pool with his cellphone flashlight. At one point he even appears to wave toward the inside of the house.
At approximately 9 p.m., the husband and wife were watching a movie when Jana heard noises emerging from the pool lanai. Jana, 43, spotted a man she didn’t recognize on the pool deck. She locked the door and told her husband there was an intruder and then called 911.
Bradley Hocevar, who is a former lieutenant colonel in the Army, removed his AR-15 assault rifle from the bedroom and shouted at the man to leave, but the man continued to approach the door with a flashlight, so Hocevar fired 2 shots at the man through his sliding glass door. Hocevar then opened fire on the man, identified as Karl Polek, through the door, firing a total of 30 rounds in 90 seconds as the man fled the scene.
Hocevar can be heard on the 911 call concerned he might have hurt someone.
“I shot up the whole f—— pool deck,” he shouted. “My God, did I hurt somebody?”
According to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Hocevar won’t face criminal charges after opening fire on his pool service technician.
Gualtieri said that the homeowner had a right to fire on someone whom he believed to be an intruder under a Florida self-defense law referred to as “stand your ground.”
In a June 26 press conference, Gualtieri said that the Hocevars acted withing the law.
“This is a classic example of what’s called the castle doctrine, or Florida’s stand-your-ground law,” Gualtieri said to reporters. “Bradley Hocevar was in his home; he was in fear someone was breaking in. I would call [it] lawful but awful. I mean it’s lawful, but it’s an awful set of circumstances.”
Polek, who works for Bay Area Pool Techs, had been servicing the couple’s pool for more than six months; the Hocevar’s have used Bay Area Pool Techs for years.
Officials said Polek normally services the Hocevars’ pool on Thursday or Friday afternoons, but was running late on his appointments.
“ It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances,” Gualtieri said. “We talked to [the] pool guy. In hindsight, he should have probably let them know he was coming at 9 o’clock at night, yet he made no effort to contact them at all.”
Polek was transported to the hospital with minor injuries from glass and shrapnel, the sheriff’s office said.