Shrubs Spat Involves Gun, Machete
By LISA A. DAVIS
The Tampa Tribune
Published: September 11, 2008
HUDSON - After getting home from work Tuesday, Joe Desousa took his 11-year-old pit bull, Troy, out for a walk and moments later he was running for his life, he said.
He kept to his property and the sidewalk behind his house along Library Road and then started back to his home on Muffin Court when he saw his neighbor approaching. Then he saw the machete in one hand and gun in the other as the man neared, he said.
Peter J. Petraglia, 62, screamed to Desousa he was going to kill him, a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report says, and squeezed the trigger, firing the gun but missing him.
Desousa started to run toward his porch with Troy in tow.
"Luckily, I have a pit bull so it intimidated him a bit," he said.
Petraglia kept going and swung the machete toward his neighbor, missing him and taking a chunk out of the door, Desousa said. Desousa, 46, kept ordering him to get off his property and then told Petraglia he was calling authorities. Petraglia raised the gun again at Desousa, but then lowered it and went back home, Desousa said.
Shortly after 6:30 p.m., deputies arrived and arrested Petraglia, who told them Desousa was harassing him so he fired his gun into the ground to warn him, according to the report.
About 7 a.m., according to Desousa, Petraglia had approached him about watering the shrubs behind Desousa's house, which were planted some time ago by the homeowners association as a barrier between the property lines and Library Road.
"I don't care about your shrubs. I'm not going to water them," Desousa said he told Petraglia.
The pair had words and Petraglia, a retiree, walked away unhappy with Desousa's unwillingness to help out the homeowners association, Desousa said.
"Water's expensive," Desousa said Wednesday.
Desousa said he wasn't expecting an evening like the one he experienced after spending a long day working as a driver for a health care company.
"People get upset about shrubs, but to kill someone about shrubs?" he pondered Wednesday.
He said he's nervous about what might happen next.
Deputies found a machete atop a refrigerator in Petraglia's garage and a .32-caliber semiautomatic handgun on the kitchen counter, as well as a black .38-caliber revolver, which they took, the report states. Deputies said Petraglia, who holds a concealed weapon permit, said he thought he was within his rights to use his gun as a warning for Desousa to "back off" from being "verbally abusive."
Petraglia denied pointing the gun at his neighbor.
Petraglia, of 13706 Muffin Court, was being held without bail at the Land O' Lakes Jail on Wednesday on charges of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated assault and discharging a firearm in public.