Brinson homeowner reflects on the moment he exchanged gunfire with armed suspect in Decatur County

Published: Feb. 28, 2021 at 8:35 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - An ordinary Saturday turned into one of the craziest days of Jesse Whitley’s life. The Brinson homeowner had just returned from a birthday vacation when he noticed something strange appear on his at-home security cameras.

Whitley says a white truck drove into his residence, and two men got out of the vehicle with automatic rifles in their hands.

According to his account, the men shot at his front door lock trying to break into the home. But before they could, Whitley grabbed his pistol, shooting through his window. Whitley and his family were not injured.

“And he said we’re friendly let us in and continue to shooting and I said no, I don’t think so and that’s when I shot 5 or 6 times towards their direction,” explained Whitley.

According to the GBI, the men fled the residential area, shooting a deputy pursuing them in the process. The two eventually crashed in a wooded area and fled on foot.

One suspect, Brad Phillips, was arrested that night. The other, Troy Phillips, wasn’t found until Sunday afternoon.

Brad and Troy Phillips were arrested in connection with a deputy-involved shooting Saturday in...
Brad and Troy Phillips were arrested in connection with a deputy-involved shooting Saturday in Decatur County.(WCTV)

Whitley’s warning shots scared the suspects away forcing them to drive off, which led to their eventual capture in the woods near resident Dwayne Nalls’ home. Nalls says he didn’t realize how scary the moment was until it was all over.

“After then I was all right but then I started thinking about it later like what could’ve happened last night. I didn’t realize, I mean that’s 200 yards from my house,” shared Nalls.

Nalls had nothing but praise for law enforcement as several different counties teamed up for the manhunt.

“I saw different plates, license plates from four or five different counties and for all of them to come together like that, that’s special,” said Nalls.

Whitley tells WCTV that he hopes this can be a learning experience for the community moving forward.

“I just hope that do you know if it happens, anything like this happens to anybody else that they can protect themselves and not become a victim,” exclaimed Whitley.

His actions likely pointed law enforcement in the right direction. But he said he isn’t looking for praise.

“I don’t really feel like I’m a hero. I just feel like I’m just a husband, a father that was just protecting his family, that’s it,” he said.

Whitley along with other Brinson residents say they are glad the two men are now in custody and their prayers go out to deputies who were injured.

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