Two squatters who took over a house in Port Richley in Florida got slightly more than they bargained for when the owner returned from serving overseas.
Army Spc. Michael Sharkey was stationed in Hawaii, which meant leaving his home for two years. Julio Ortiz and Fatima Cardosa took this as a perfect opportunity to break into the building, move themselves and their two dogs into Sharkey’s home, change the locks and refuse to leave.
Sharkey was told that because Ortiz and Cardosa had “taken up residency,” the only way to get the pair to leave and get his home back was to take the matter to civil court.
This story very quickly made its way through the social media grapevine and on to the Facebook page of WFLA who first reported the story. Residents were horrified and the general consensus was that something should be done about it.
The outrage culminated in a planned motorcycle ride organized by supporters to convince the squatters to leave. According to latest reports, the public pressure has worked, as Cardosa and Ortiz — who has spent 12 years in jail for robbery, carjacking and drugs offenses — have made a hasty retreat.
Lauren Price of Veterans Warriors, who helped bring attention to the situation, says that Lowe’s has donated supplies to repair Sharkey’s home and local construction firms have donated their time to clean up the mess left behind.
Speaking to Channel 8 News, an overwhelmed Sharkey expressed his gratitude saying “I’m used to doing things for everyone else; this is the first time someone has done something for me, It’s pretty much like my extended family, wearing the same uniform as me.”