“I thought to myself, ‘I know I closed that about two hours ago,’” he said. “I went over and took a look and here I see this man, his back to the wall like he’s trying to not let me see him… It shocked me that there was actually someone there.”

NAVARRE — An attempted break in to a Navarre Beach home on March 3 led to a retired law enforcement officer chasing the suspect down the street and apprehending him until police arrived. 

 

Edward DeCoste, 64, lives with his wife Kathyrn at Navarre Beach. As they prepared for bed March 10, Edward noticed something wasn’t right. 

Just after 10 p.m., Edward went upstairs and saw the motion-detector lights on the third-floor balcony were on. That’s not too unusual, he said, because sometimes the wind activates them. 

Edward decided to double-check the door but realized the screen was open. 

“I thought to myself, ‘I know I closed that about two hours ago,’” he said. “I went over and took a look and here I see this man, his back to the wall like he’s trying to not let me see him… It shocked me that there was actually someone there.” 

Edward opened the door and confronted the man, who said he was looking for a friend and had the wrong house. 

“I told him that was a bunch of baloney and he was there to rob my house… and he wasn’t going anywhere,” Edward said. “He was going to wait right there with me until the sheriff’s [deputies] got there.” 

That’s when the suspect took off on foot.

“He ran down the stairs and I ran after him for about two houses down from where I live,” Edward said. “I caught up to him and started to give him very loud verbal orders to get on the ground.” 

At first, the suspect obeyed the commands but then got up and punched Edward on the left side of his face. Edward fought back, got him back on the ground and held him down until the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office arrived. 

Deputies booked the suspect, Jerome Edmund Scooler, 57, of Shalimar into the Santa Rosa County jail at 12:31 a.m. on an $11,000 bond with charges of first degree misdemeanor battery and second degree felony burglary, according to the jail’s website. 

Edward was a Deputy U.S. Marshall for 25 years, and ended his career there as a Chief Deputy. He then transferred to the Department of Homeland Security for the last four years of his federal service, he said, as a regional Special Agent in Charge.

“It may just be because I'm a proud daughter," Edward’s daughter, Cassandra, said. "It may just be because they're locals I love but I really think this episode is awesome and will inspire other residents to be proud of their community."