Louise Goldsberry was home making dinner after a nursing shift when she was a man outside her window pointing a gun at her. At the same time, a police SWAT team suddenly appeared at the door with guns drawn.
Fearing a home invasion, Goldsberry retreated to her room and pulled the.38-caliber revolver she keeps for protection, leading to a tense standoff inside the Sarasota apartment.
The police had been searching for a child rape suspect in the apartment complex, but decided to focus in on Goldsberry's apartment because she didn't open the door when they asked. The officers assumed this meant they had the right place.
The case is getting attention on the internet in what is seen as an instance of police overstepping their bounds. Goldsberry had never been in trouble with the law and had never met the suspect. But still, she came within seconds of firing at a police officer she was convinced was an intruder.
On the link-sharing website Reddit, a newspaper account of the story garnered thousands of user votes, with commenters expressing anger at what seemed to be the latest in a string of incidents involving overzealous police.
Louise Goldsberry said when she first saw a man with a hunting vest and gun pointed at her, she assumed it was a home invasion. The person at her door claimed to be a police officer, but the man she saw looked more like an "armed thug" as he screamed at her to open the door, and she could think of no reason why the police would be storming her apartment.
"We're the f------ police; open the f------ door," the officer said.
Luckily for Goldsberry, her boyfriend Craig Dorris had a cooler head and experience working with police through his job for a security company. He noticed they had tactical shields and thought they might actually be officers, so he offered to come out and talk.
As soon as Dorris got past the door he was handcuffed. But in the apartment hallway he could see badges identifying the men as federal marshals, so he told Goldsberry it was safe to come out. After a few more tense minutes, she put down the gun and went into the hallway, where she was also handcuffed.
Officers say there was no reason for Goldsberry to pull a gun.
"We were clearly the police," said Matt Wiggins, an officer with the U.S. Marshal's fugitive division and the one she argued with at the door. "She can't say she didn't know."
But Goldsberry says officers were shining a bright light in her eyes, leaving her unable to tell exactly who it was threatening to shoot her.
For the next hour the apartment was searched and police showed the couple a picture of the suspect, Kyle Riley. Afterward police took off the handcuffs and let the couple go free.
"I feel bad for her," Wiggins said. "But at the same time, I had to reasonably believe the bad guy was in her house based on what they were doing."
It turned out there was no reason at all for police to invade the home of Louise Goldsberry without a warrant. She had never met Kyle Riley before, and the suspect was nowhere near the apartment complex, either. He was later arrested in a different part of Sarasota.