More details released in Spring Hill standoff

SPRING HILL James Michael Soard, 39, didn’t have much of a paper trail before early Monday morning.

According to a chronology of events released by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday evening, a call came in just after 2 a.m. Monday that shots had been fired at 8169 Berkeley Manor Blvd., where Soard lived with his mother and adult sister.

Once deputies arrived on scene in the Spring Hill subdivision, Soard began firing “numerous rounds” at them, according to the sheriff’s office. One of the bullets from Soard’s gun hit a neighbor’s house across the street. After 12 hours of negotiations, Soard was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to the sheriff’s office, the Monday events unfolded the following way:

After being fired at, deputies called for backup, and Soard fired off rounds both inside the home and outside toward law enforcement. Soard was on the phone with dispatchers, and said he was planning to take his own life.

Soard’s mother, Yuko, and sister, Elizabeth, were inside the house when SWAT and crisis teams arrived on scene. Soard’s sister ran to safety; Yuko decided to remain in her home with her son, and was not hurt by the gunfire.

Immediate neighbors were evacuated from their homes, and traffic – including school buses – into the Berkeley Manor subdivision were re-routed.

Reverse 911 notifications were sent out as the sun was coming up, and by mid-morning a Pasco County SWAT team arrived to assist.

During the 12-hour standoff, Soard continually fired shots in the house. Law enforcement approved warrants to arrest Soard on three counts of attempted murder on a law enforcement officer with a firearm and one count of attempted murder with a firearm.

After believing Soard took his own life, the teams fired tear gas and flash bangs into the home, and assisted Yuko Soard out of the house.

Soard was found dead at 3:16 p.m.

The incident continues to be investigated by Hernando County Sheriff detectives.

On Feb. 8, the Spring Hill man was arrested on charges of trespassing in an occupied structure and resisting an officer without violence in Orlando, according to an Orange County arrest affidavit.

Soard was found by deputies drunk and wandering a parking garage at Orlando Citywalk, 6000 Universal Studios Plaza. Employees who saw Soard said he was “stumbling” and “talking to himself.”

When officers tried to help Soard get a cab, he “walked about 20 feet, lay on the ground, and stated ‘F— you guys, I’m not leaving.’”

After officers helped Soard up, he dropped his body weight and, back on the ground, wouldn’t move. Soard continued swearing at the officers, and was arrested on charges of trespassing and resisting an officer without violence – both misdemeanor charges.

Later, while being booked, Soard “began slamming his head against the wall, causing a dent in it,” according to the affidavit.

Soard was released on Feb. 10 on $600 bond, according to Christina Grover, assistant public information officer for Orange County Corrections.

During a phone interview Wednesday, Sheriff Al Nienhuis said his office was aware of “some issues” in the 8169 Berkeley Manor Blvd. household, but “not sure exactly what is rumor.”

Hernando Court documents show both James and Yuko Soard filed a domestic violence petition against a man living in the residence on Dec. 17, and granted a week later by Judge Tatti.

The no contact orders were against Andrew Devere, 47, Yuko Soard’s son-in-law, who was involved in a physical fight with James Soard. Both wrote in the petitions that they feared for their lives with Devere in the house.

Yuko Soard, 65, said she was injured from a car accident 15 years ago, and has a hard time standing and walking, and Devere pushed her on the floor when she tried to stop the fight between the two men.

A Florida prison search shows Devere is on parole for life for a first degree murder charge out of Hawaii. Devere, sentenced in 1987, was released from prison in 2012.

Court record show Elizabeth Soard, 41, had two charges of battery on a law enforcement officer files against her in 2011, but avoided being charged by a pre-trial diversion program.


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More details released in Spring Hill standoff
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